Different Factors Affecting Criminal Tendencies

Wrongful acts that the State distinguishes to be out of control of a normal situation and deserve to be punished for the good of the society define what crime is. The state immediately perform some actions that would lead to the correction and stoppage of the crime, like prosecution of the alleged perpetrators to guarantee the safety of the public and to cater the need to satisfy the rule of law that instils respect to the constitution of a democratic society. Criminals are alleged for the good of the humankind, and it must be noted that the victim is not responsible to allege the criminal (Alexandrowicz, 2004, p. 231).

What is underneath the commitment of a crime? What are the factors that lead criminals to do such unlawful acts? Research has suggested that children exposed to the following factors become susceptible to delinquency and later on become criminals:Reception of little love, affection, or warmth, and are rejected or abandoned by their  parents physically or emotionally;Inadequate supervision of parents who in turn fail to translate to them the right from wrong. Failure to supervise the whereabouts, friends or activities, and the right disciplinary procedures might lead to rebellion and improper thinking of children;Growing up in an environment that is of considerable conflict, discord in the marital relationship of parents, and violence. This all boil down to poor parenting skills that might eventually affect the social behavior of children (Alexandrowicz, 2004, p. 241).

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These are mere psychological factors that may induce criminal behavior on a person. In a 1990 article, the concept of latent traits had been proposed explaining the flow of crime over the life cycle. The model’s assumption is that there are a certain number of people in the population having a personal attribute or characteristic that governs preference to committing crimes. This kind of situation or disposition, or the latent trait, may be created and manifested at birth or early in life that can remain long-standing over time. Defective intelligence, damaged or impulsive personality, genetic impairment, brain’s physiology, external brain influences such as drugs, injuries and drugs are some of the suspected latent traits. It is theorized that when a suspected latent trait remain in a person’s possession until a certain age, regardless of the gender or environment, there is a risk to criminal tendencies, compared to those who do not possess any latent trait (Siegel, 2005, p. 307).

The propensity of committing a crime is stable, but as the social life of a person reaches adulthood, or the stage wherein maturity and development comes in, fewer possibilities of committing a crime is achieved and there is a higher tendency to become an upright person. Opportunities to marry, having a good family, entering a stable job would be some of the factors that might contribute to maturity. Former delinquencies are converted into being responsible, and the time to spend with friends who are socially negative in influence (Siegel, 2005, p. 307).Latent trait theorists in the name of James Q.

Wilson and Richard Herrnstein published the Crime and Human Nature in the year 1985, discussing the human nature theory that argues that personal traits such as the genetic make-up, intelligence and body build, may be indications or predictors of the tendency of a person to become a criminal. According to their published article, criminality is verified by its perceived consequences. When an individual chooses criminal behavior over the conventional one (non-crime) after pondering on the potential benefits and failure/losses, a criminal incident occurs.

When there is a larger ratio of gain from committing the crime, compared to the rewards of not committing it, then there is a greater tendency for the crime to be performed (Siegel, 2005, p. 307).The model presented by Wilson and Herrnstein presumes that both biological and psychological traits manipulate the choice for committing crime or not.

Social, or more specifically biosocial factors including low intelligence, mesomorphic body type, genetic influences or parental criminality, and the possession of an autonomic nervous system that would respond quickly to stimuli. Impulsive or extroverted personality, also termed as generalized hostility determines the potential crime execution. The two theorists focused on the association between the constitutional, psychological factors, and crime. The existence of the indefinable latent trait as suggested by the two predisposes people to perpetrate on a criminal situation, and this inspired other criminologists to recognize the elusive latent trait that results to criminal behavior (Siegel, 2005, p. 307).

One of the most commonly known criminal of all times was Ted Bundy, born on November 24, 1946, in the name of Theodore Robert Cowell. For his family history, Ted’s mother was unmarried, with his father Lloyd Marshall not wanting anything to do with him. For this reason, his grandparents raised him and made him believe that his mother is his older sister because of the fear of criticisms that the child is a bastard. Ted had a stepfather whom never formed any bond with him, and grew up with bullies around him, making him a shy child. The adolescent years of Ted were even described by Stephen G. Michaud, in his book, The Only Living Witness, as an unhappy one. He had a girlfriend named Stephanie Brooks, whom he had his first sexual experience, but the sad part was that their relationship ended because Stephanie thought of Ted as with no direction or future goals in life. This caused him a lot of frustrations, living in a messed up life that made him a college dropout.

He had a child with Meg Anders, although with continuous contact with the former girlfriend (Lohr, 2008).These events in the life of Ted Bundy according to the theories presented in this paper may be the factors that contributed to his criminality. First, he came from a dysfunctional family, where he had not been treated as a child should be treated upon, and because of this, he did not grow up living in an environment of love. What happened to him and his girlfriends were devastating, that made him inclined into criminal activities like murdering girls most especially those who resemble his girlfriend. All the hurtful experiences in his childhood being bullied by other children, and being deprived of true love apparently were the underlying reasons that led Ted Bundy to what he was until the day of his execution in the electric chair (Lohr, 2008).

Committing a crime has so many factors to consider tracing the roots of the criminal behavior. Understanding oneself and others is the best way to conquer the probability of inclination to criminal tendencies. Shifting attention and keeping oneself busy with other responsibilities can somehow minimize, or even eliminate the criminal tendency.

Author: Essie Norman


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