Society Creates Criminals: The Broken Windows and Other Theories That Explain Crimes

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Society Creates Criminals: The Broken Windows and Other Theories That Explain Crimes essay
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The nature vs nurture argument is one of the biggest theories as to why people commit a crime. The nature argument is that criminals are born and biological explanations tell us that criminal activity is a form of illness and it’s the idea that criminals cannot help but commit crime due to their 'genetic makeup'. Our genetic makeup determines some of the traits we have but mostly it determines our physical traits such as eye color, hair color, etc.

Lombroso was an Italian criminologist who promoted the theory that people are born criminals and you can identify a criminal by physical defects which were: Large chins, Forward projected jaw, Low sloping foreheads, Long arms, Small skulls, Fleshy lips, Bald or scanty beard. His theory has been supported by James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein. They argued that Lombroso was on the right track as they believed that criminals are born with ' constitutional factors that predispose crime', such as small skull measurement indicating that criminals have small undeveloped brains. Also, Wilson and Herrnstein came to the conclusion that criminals are often ' young males who are muscular rather than thin and are impulsive with lower than average IQ's' these factors do not cause crimes but evidence leaves no doubt that constitutional traits tie in with criminal behavior.

Whereas the Nurture theory argues that its environmental factors that are responsible for the crime, and even though genetic influence over certain abstract traits may exist, it is the environment you grow up in that has a definitive influence on your behavior in life and is the trigger for some of the genetic traits. This theory is supported by Philip Zimbardo a criminologist who created the Broken Window Theory. He did a broken window in a car experiment from which he found out that if something isn't cared for then people don’t believe that it should be fixed and damage it further. The theory means that if a building with broken windows is not fixed soon then immediately other windows will end up being broken by vandals too. The message here is that if something is abandoned or damaged then nobody cares about it, this sums up that basically if a person is broken, feels neglected, or in a bad place in life then nobody actually cares enough to help them making them go into a further spiral and creating bigger evil within themselves. This theory proves that it is nurture that causes criminal behavior, not nature as it is the surrounding of a person and people in the society around them that causes people to become mentally unstable.

Within this I am going to focus on 3 aims: Chapter 1: Critically examine the view 'nurture' is the main reason for crime in the UK. Chapter 2: To investigate the link between living in a poorer area and committing a crime. Chapter 3: 'Men are more likely to commit crime than women'.

Discussion

Aim 1: Critically examine the view 'nurture' is the main reason for crime in the UK. The environment you brought up in has a huge effect on your life as a whole and the relationships you develop from a very young age have a great effect on your mental health and life as well. Sigmund Freud a psychologist claimed that much deviance resulted from an excessive sense of guilt as a result of an overdeveloped superego. An overdeveloped superego creates a sense of guilt for no reason and some people see crime as the only way to relieve themselves as this Is the punishment for them. According to Freud's view, crime is not the result of a criminal personality but of a poorly integrated psyche. The Superego is the 'moral regulator of behavior' and is the parents of the psyche. A superego develops in the first 5 years in a child's life and begins to punish the ego with anxiety and guilt when contemplating immoral acts. Within this there are three types of the superego: The weak superego is developed as a result of abnormal relationships within a family as the superego has not been fully formed. This may result in individuals who feel neglected and struggle to fit in with society. Deviant superego is when a child may develop a 'normal' superego but accepted behaviors in the family for e.g. being raised normally in a family with a criminal father may develop superego that does not react to criminal acts as the father engaged in them. A strong superego would imply that an individual would shy away from crime due to intense feelings of anxiety. However, an individual may commit a crime so they are caught, punished and the feelings of guilt and anxiety therefore subside. This shows that somebody's mental health has a great effect on their behavior and decision making in life, however, a person's mental health is stimulated by external factors in early-onset and throughout life. Also, Taylor et al (2000) tested about 140 twin males and identified that genes are involved in the early onset of delinquency. From the adoption study carried out by Cloninger et al, it was detected that if the adoptee twins had criminal biological parents then their chance of offending was 12%, if they had criminal adoptive parents then it was 7% and 40% for both. This shows that we must consider both genetic and surrounding factors as a reason for committing a crime, but studies show that low serotonin activity has repeatedly been associated with criminality, for e.g conduct disorder, anti-social, disorder, and young adult offending.

However, Taylor et al mentioned that ' the genes you inherit do put you at more or less risk of anti-social and criminal behavior but their impact depends on the environment you grow up in.'. This statement is supported by Dr. Clarke in the http://www.sundaycircle.com/2012/02/criminal-minds/ article written by Katryna Storace in which she explains her view that criminal nature does not exist and that it is our role in society that decides on our behavior and that we are all responsible for our actions. Inherited criminality is also rejected by Dr. Azzopardi who claims that there is no criminal gene and says that “We are born with our own baggage, circumstances, and conditions – these can make us prone to becoming a criminal. We are ultimately the product of our upbringing and background.”. This shows that ultimately it is life factors such as family and upbringing that cause crime. Another example of why nurture is the main cause of crime is the famous vicious cycle of deprivation.

Poor environment when growing up leads to poorer education, to making poor lifestyle choices for yourself to being pushed to commit crime as you see no other way out. Your geographic location has an effect on your education, as for example all the high level of education schools tend to be in Renfrewshire which is a more expensive area as an average house there is the same price as a fancy house in Glasgow, this means that people receive poorer education based on the are they live in. Poor education often leads to unemployment and making poor lifestyle choices for yourself as poor people by contrast have less control over their lives and the stress is much more damaging which leads to drug use, alcohol misuse, and smoking as a way out. When this cycle of deprivation repeats and repeats itself as society isn't structured well enough to give everyone equal opportunities, then people end up seeing no other option but to commit criminal offenses such as burglary, drug deal, and theft as a call for help. This shows that the environment you are brought up in is ultimately the main reason for the crime.

Aim 2: To investigate the link between living in a poorer area and committing a crime. Over the years, statistics have shown a link between poverty and committing a crime. In the year 2015-2016 Police reported over 200,000 cases of crime in Scotland. In that year Edinburgh experienced a decrease in crime by 11% and Glasgow by9%. However, despite the decrease in overall crime, Glasgow still had the highest crime rates per 10,000 with 715 cases of crime. Within this, the Shetland Islands were the area that experienced the greatest increase in crime of 39% from which 89% of it was due to drugs and crimes against public justice. These statistics seem to be highest in areas that are most deprived, 2 as for example in 2015 34.1% of children in Glasgow were in poverty and 3 47.3% of the residents lived in the 20% most deprived areas of Scotland. This shows that there is a clear link between living in a more deprived geographical location and committing a crime.

The Broken Window theory is highly known for criminologist view that explains crime. The theory was created by Philip Zimbardo and his broken window in a car experiment. This took place in 1969 and consisted of leaving a car in the Bronx, which at the time was a poor, dangerous, controversial, and full of crime area. Zimbardo left the vehicle there, with torn registration plates and open doors to just observe what would happen. Just after ten minutes, the car started to be robbed. After three days there was nothing of value in the car and from then on the car was just wrecked totally. However, there was a second part to the experiment which involved leaving another identical vehicle, but this time leaving it in a very rich and quiet area: Palo Alto, California. After week results were complete opposite as the vehicle was untouched. Therefore, Zimbardo decided to intervene, so he took a hammer and broke one of the windows, from then on the car was destroyed just like it was previously. From this experiment, he found out that if something isn't cared for then people don’t believe that it should be fixed and damage it further. The theory means that if a building with a broken window is not fixed soon then immediately other windows will end up being broken by vandals too.

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The message here is that if something is abandoned or damaged then nobody cares about it, this sums up that basically if a person is broken, feels neglected, or in a bad place in life then nobody actually cares enough to help them making them go into a further spiral and creating bigger evil within themselves. This theory proves that it is nurture that causes criminal behavior and not natural as well as proves that crime is higher in more deprived areas, even though it's still present in rich areas too. 5The link between living in deprived areas and committing a crime has also been shown through the 2011 London riots. According to the Guardian ' 58% of those appearing in a court identified their residential location as being within the 20% most deprived areas in England – which matches what the Home Office found and for 60% of those addresses appearing in the sample, these areas had not changed; however, 14% had got worse '. This shows that there must be factors affecting people living in these poor areas that have pushed them to commit these offenses. The London riots further relate to the Strain theory by Robert Merton. This theory believes that your expectations and ideas of what is 'normal', reasonable, or expected create a strain on someone's life. We have been socialized to believe that we could expect to enjoy a decent standard of living, such as a well-paid job, good healthcare, decent education, a nice home, etc.

Unfortunately, in today's society for many reasons these norms and goals aren't achievable. Therefore, it creates strain and causes people to become disillusioned with the system and frustrated that these expectations put on them by society aren't met. This makes people disenfranchised and underrepresented in society for e.g Immigrants, unemployed, and disabled. Merton based this theory on the US idea of the American Dream which gives an illusion that anyone who works hard can achieve this life. However, when people can't achieve ambitions declared by the society they decide to turn to crime to achieve them. This can either be by committing crimes such as theft and burglary or violent crimes as you are acting out in frustration since your straining for a life you don't have because you've not been fortunate enough to be born into this norm set by society. Also, according to the Sun newspaper 6 which showed that West Yorkshire saw crimes of 88.6 per 1000 people living there and London saw 75.6 and Greater Manchester 78.4. This may be because of a higher percentage of deprivation in these locations as according to the Office for national statistics Manchester is the most deprived city in England. Studies show that 28% of people in London live in poverty and in 2016 London over fourteen thousand motorbikes were stolen from which only nine thousand were recovered. 9 In recent years, crime knife has also gone up in London from about 700 knife crime cases in October 2015 to 1300 in July 2017, this is an increase of 185% and shows how much of a problem crime is in poorer areas of the UK. The example is with 42% of those living in deprived areas encountering vandalism compared to the 14% in the rest of Scotland as well as knowing groups of people taking drugs with 45 percent being in the 15% of poorest areas and 18 percent in the rest of Scotland. Also, this report showed that only 42% of those in the most deprived 15% of Scotland felt safe walking in their neighborhood after dark compared to the remaining 63% in the rest of Scotland.

Therefore, crime seems to be the highest in the most deprived geographical locations of the UK and 11not only as Detroit is one of the most deprived areas in the USA with a poverty rate of 39.8% and crime rate of 1759.6 per 100 000 people, this shows that the problem is widespread. A lack of education in many deprived areas participates hugely as to why crime rates are so high in most deprived areas and is ultimately a reason for the statement ' society creates criminals'. With a lack of education comes a lack of employment opportunities, as many employers need at least basic levels of English and Maths in their employees.

A study of young people in police custody found that 86% had been excluded from school. This can lead these young delinquents to be labeled NEDs (Non-Educated Delinquents) which in turn labels them within society and makes it even harder for them to gain lawful employment — and so the cycle continues. This links in with the vicious cycle of deprivation. Poor environment when growing up leads to poorer education, to making poor lifestyle choices for yourself to being pushed to commit crime as you see no other way out. Your geographic location has an effect on your education, as for example all the high level of education schools tend to be in Renfrewshire which is a more expensive area as an average house there is the same price as a fancy house in Glasgow, this means that people receive poorer education based on the are they live in. Poor education often leads to unemployment and making poor lifestyle choices for yourself as poor people by contrast have less control over their lives and the stress is much more damaging which leads to drug use, alcohol misuse, and smoking as a way out. When this cycle of deprivation repeats and repeats itself as society isn't structured well enough to give everyone equal opportunities, then people end up seeing no other option but to commit criminal offenses such as burglary, drug deal, and theft as a call for help. Also, deprived areas face higher average crime rates and fewer amenities, and businesses aren't attracted to such areas which creates more unemployment and fewer opportunities for the growing up populations.

The British Crime Survey, (BCS) highlights the fact that the highest volume of crimes is committed in marginalized neighborhoods, with the poorest people as victims. This shows that the environment you are brought up in is ultimately the main reason for the crime. To conclude, there is a clear link between living in poorer areas and committing a crime. However, living in poorer areas isn't the main cause of committing a crime since the real underlying factor of this is poverty and failure to achieve norms set out by today's society due to the still existing inequalities between the rich and the poor.

Aim 3: 'Men are more likely to commit crime than women' Discuss. Inequalities between men and women have been around for centuries, with one of the biggest ones being a crime. One of the biggest indicators of whether men are more likely to commit crime than women is the prison statistics. According to a report by the Telegraph, women make up less than 5% of the UK prison population which suggests that crime is mostly committed by men. This is backed up by prison statistics that show that there are 84,731 people in prison in Britain in 2016 with 80,915 of them being men. This is not to say that men are more criminal only because they make up most of the prison populations but neither is it to deny the very real effect that other “risk factors” such as age, education, and background have on offenders.

It can be argued that biological factors are a reason why men seem to commit more crime since researchers have found that men tend to be more violent in general and very strong hence why they're more capable of committing different types of crimes. According to the Independent key gender differences noted by researchers and criminologists included that women were most likely to kill their victim using an implement such as a knife if they were an adult. Earlier research has indicated that women may be more likely to use a weapon in violent crime, because of perceived lower body strength than men which suggests that women commit less crime due to physical weaknesses. Heinsohn (a sociologist) points out that we can not pin down the reason why men are more violent to physical differences since most crimes are not violent in nature as the most common crime in the UK is motoring. According to many studies men seem to take more risks in life, however, this may be a cause of norms set out by society. A norm is a standard that everyone should have, and certain norms set out by society over the last century may be a huge participant to the difference in gender crime and crime as a whole.

It has been said that women have fewer opportunities than men in life which is a hugely negative thing as it is the reason why in today's society we still have the pay gap. For example lack of opportunities due to gender, inequalities mean that women are less likely to get a senior position in financial companies where they would have an opportunity to commit organized crimes such as embezzlement which is a very male-dominated crime to commit. Whereas women are traditionally expected to have a domestic or caregiving role. This lack of opportunity is improving nowadays but still means that women struggle to pursue their careers because of stereotypical norms which often leave them committing crimes such as theft as they are often primary house careers in low paid jobs. Despite the fact that opportunistic differences are not a relevant explanation for all types of crime, gender norms do matter as they create different social and psychological constraints on a person's behavior. For example, men are told that they should be strong, that they cannot cry, and that they should have power over everyone which may push them to act out violently when this stereotypical opinion of how a man should be is not met.

With the fact that prison populations are made up of mostly men it is fair to say that men are committing more crimes than females. This difference in criminal offenses between men and women could be due to the gender role socialization which creates expectations for men to show tough and dominant behavior and this could be a cause as to why men do commit more serious and violent offenses. Also, with the stereotypical norm of society previously mentioned its always been women who have had the maternal instinct and stayed at home cooking and looking after children, which has possibly created fewer opportunities for women to be out there committing offenses and gave men the opportunity and independence to be out there since they are less restricted to responsibilities by demands of housework and childcare. However, the Chivalry thesis argues against this as it believes that police and the justice system is sexist and regard female offenders as a less serious threat to society than men, especially for minor offenses.

According to the Home Office, it has been reported that women are treated more leniently by the law due to their maternal instincts with women who are first offenders being half less likely to be sentenced to imprisonment than their male counterparts. This shows that women may make up such a small proportion of the prison population due to the law being more lenient on them as primary child career's which could suggest that men do not commit more crime but are just sentenced more severely. Nevertheless, the Chivalry thesis doesn’t explain that in general crimes committed by women are mostly minor offenses and in cases of violent crimes women are most likely to be treated and sentenced more harshly than men. For example, if a woman committed a violent offense involving children then she would get a harsher sentence than men as she would be violating the socially acceptable pattern of female behavior. Also, 'women are twice as likely as men to be denied bail when charged with drug offenses and almost three times as likely for offenses involving dishonesty' this shows that women sent to prison are treated as harshly or sometimes even more severely as men which disprove the Chivalry thesis. Most women in prison have children under the age of 16 and the crimes committed by women are mostly minor crimes committed due to desperation since women are over twice as likely to be imprisoned for theft, this means that many women are being sent to prison for being poor.

To conclude, this means that women receive harsher sentences than males for minor crimes due to the norms set out by society which means that women only making up 5% of the prison population shows that despite their harsher prison sentences, men still commit more crime. 5 In 2016/17 69% of property crimes were committed by men compared to 14% by women and 77% of violent crimes were committed by men compared to only 16% by women. These statistics show that it is undeniable that men commit more crimes than women which are caused by many factors such as age, education, and family background. This also proves that it is nurture which is the main cause of crime.

This essay is graded:
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The essay provides an overview of the nature vs nurture debate in relation to crime. The author discusses key theories, including Lombroso's biological explanations and Zimbardo's Broken Window Theory. The three stated aims are addressed, but the analysis lacks depth and coherence. While the content covers relevant aspects, the writing style could be more organized and concise. The essay would benefit from stronger critical analysis, clearer structuring, and better integration of sources. Additionally, the conclusion could be more concise and focused on summarizing the main findings.
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Structuring and Coherence: Organize the essay into clear sections for introduction, each aim, and conclusion. Ensure each section logically flows to the next. Depth of Analysis: Provide more in-depth exploration and critical analysis of theories, studies, and statistics. Integration of Sources: Integrate sources more seamlessly into the discussion to support arguments and claims effectively. Conciseness: Streamline the content to focus on key points, avoiding unnecessary repetition. Clarity and Grammar: Review sentence structure and grammar for improved clarity and readability. Cohesive Conclusion: Summarize the main findings succinctly in the conclusion, linking back to the aims and arguments presented in the essay.
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Society Creates Criminals: The Broken Windows and Other Theories That Explain Crimes. (2020, October 20). WritingBros. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/society-creates-criminals-the-broken-windows-and-other-theories-that-explain-crimes/
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Society Creates Criminals: The Broken Windows and Other Theories That Explain Crimes [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Oct 20 [cited 2024 Jul 14]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/society-creates-criminals-the-broken-windows-and-other-theories-that-explain-crimes/
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