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Delinquent Behavior Theories Essay

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Updated: Jul 22nd, 2021

The majority of the existing theories that aim to explain delinquent behavior focus on negative aspects such as poverty, a low social and economic status, poor parenting, and so on. According to the developmental theory, a particular sequence of events leads to criminal activity, starting from ineffective parenting and inappropriate contextual variables (Ronel & Segev, 2015). The idea of reinventing the very approach to understanding and preventing crime from a positive perspective seems to be thought-provoking. The review of the recent literature shows that there are few studies that explore Hirschi’s revised self-control theory (Ronel & Segev, 2015). In one of them, Schaefer, Vito, Marcum, Higgins, and Ricketts (2014) state that the low self-control of adolescents who were prone to using cocaine affected their behavior. This is largely associated with the decreased ability of such individuals to anticipate the long-term impact of their actions, such as drug addiction and criminal activity in this case.

Based on the prospects of the revised self-control theory, it seems appropriate to suggest that parental guidance and peer association are the two most important areas to improve with regard to crime and recidivism prevention (Johnson, Lee, Pagano, & Post, 2016). Consistent with the benefits of the social support theory mentioned in the post, one should agree that positive reinforcement is a feasible approach to be adopted by parents and criminologists. For example, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program was offered to juveniles to verify Hirschi’s theory, and the results were supportive of it (Ronel & Segev, 2014). In particular, this program provided education on cocaine use and its consequences, which allowed decreasing substance abuse. However, it should also be identified that reward was applied by the above researchers, which impacted the study outcomes.

The content of people’s minds is regarded as capable of creating reality, which can be utilized as the basis for positive criminology. On a larger scale, not only offenders with good behavior should be given a reward, but also others should be given the opportunity to be viewed from the point of increasing good. Ronel and Segev (2015) consider that the sense of social inclusion is the paramount result of a positive approach towards crime elimination. The integration of the factors that ensure positivism fosters resistance and self-efficacy – the issues that potential offenders often lack. The emphasis on the future may be promoted as a way to demonstrate to adolescents and their parents the necessity of the long-term consideration of one’s behavior (Ronel & Segev, 2015). As a result, it is possible to expect constructive changes through the creation of positive emotions, mechanisms, and attitudes, thus contributing to the social inclusion of potential victims and offenders.

While discussing the need to introduce an innovative theory that would be largely aimed to prevent crime and promote positive behavior, it is critical to conduct additional research. The current evidence is insufficient to design special programs since such aspects as the link between the behavior and reward as well as its impact on adolescents needs to be understood (Lee, Moak, & Walker, 2016). More to the point, more studies are required in the field of social bond establishment and the emergence of criminogenic settings. The capability of social support to impact the latter is another area that should be researched in detail. Thus, reinforcing positive behavior has a great potential to address high crime rates in the US, and the next step to implementing it is thorough theoretical work based on practical experiments.


Johnson, B. R., Lee, M. T., Pagano, M. E., & Post, S. G. (2016). Positive criminology and rethinking the response to adolescent addiction: Evidence on the role of social support, religiosity, and service to others. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 5, 172-181.

Lee, C. H., Moak, S., & Walker, J. T. (2016). Effects of self-control, social control, and social learning on sexting behavior among South Korean youths. Youth & Society, 48(2), 242-264.

Ronel, N., & Segev, D. (2014). Positive criminology in practice. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 58(11), 1389-1407.

Ronel, N., & Segev, D. (2015). Positive criminology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Schaefer, B. P., Vito, A. G., Marcum, C. D., Higgins, G. E., & Ricketts, M. L. (2015). Examining adolescent cocaine use with social learning and self-control theories. Deviant Behavior, 36(10), 823-833.

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