How people first become deviant is a question that many people, including scholars and policymakers, have often asked. Generally, those who are labeled to have deviant behavior are those who, in one way or the other has failed to conform to socio-cultural reinforced norms.
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According to Becker’s Interactionist Theory of Labeling, people often commit acts which do not conform to cultural norms without getting involved in a protracted pattern of deviant activity (Orcutt, 1983). However, initially, they do not get caught while performing their nonconformity acts, and therefore this behavior remains secret. Those who are around the person do not even suspect the individual of such deviant activities.
Finally, when the person is caught, he or she is labeled as a deviant by the members of the society. Consequently, people’s reactions towards this individual now only focus on this identity that had been identified. This causes the person to continue rebelling against the cultural norms or to withdraw from participating in generally accepted societal activities or interacting with other members of the society, and as a result, continue developing the deviant acts by disobeying societal norms and rules as part of his or her personality.
As a result, such people begin to develop a deviant career. That is, they are likely to be cut off from participating in more conventional groups. Other members of society get an excuse to deny the individual the opportunity to participate in conventional activities and to interact with them (Douglas & Waksler, 1982). Thus, the person drifts into unconventional, as well as marginal activities or occupations which best match his or her behaviors or aspirations, which are the deviant activities.
Consequently, the person increasingly involves him/herself with others who have the same deviant behaviors or in organized deviant groups (gangs). Since the members of these groups share similar deviant subculture, the persons form a self-identity, and this gives him or her the justification and rationalization to advance his/her deviant activities (Clinard & Meier, 1968).
While in the early to mid periods of my adolescence, I had seriously disrespected adults and even my peers. Those who were mostly on the receiving end were my teachers, as I constantly disobeyed them in almost every way. Even some of my peers had stopped associating with me as I sometimes used abusive language on them or fought against them. However, it took the intervention of two teachers and my parents to help me overcome that deviant behavior. I had to be counseled together with my parents, and slowly I started to develop a close relationship with my parents, teachers, and a few peers, and that is what changed me. Being close to these people really helped me understand the sense of respecting others.
People first become deviant when they are not properly socialized and given the right guidance by their parents and those around them. Again, the social environments to which people are exposed can determine an individual’s abnormal behavior development. The social environment and social group that one interacts with influences their opinions, views, and reactions towards the cultural norms (Jensen, 2007). They, therefore, internalize what they think is best for them as they develop their personality since they are not guided. Some of what they internalize could be wrong in themselves. I believe that proper monitoring of a child, especially who he or she hangs up with, counseling and guidance as well as the provision of positive reinforcement to bad behavior identified, could effectively help prevent going down these paths.
Parents have to be careful about the kinds of videos their children watch so as to ensure that they do not get access to videos that expose them to deviant activities. They also have to advise their children on the type of personalities to hang out with. This could have prevented Slim Iceberg from involving with pimps. Education provided by the teachers should also aim at understanding the social and emotional problems which learners face and help them overcome such problems and development stages. Advertising campaigns also need to portray positive behavior and achievements and not those who exhibit bad behavior as part of their advertisement campaigns. Finally, social movements need to provide programs and activities which enable people to interact and develop positive behavior. They should organize activities that encourage people to come together, share their problems, and find possible solutions to challenges that affect all those who attend their programs.
Clinard, M. B., & Meier, R. F. (1968). Sociology of deviant behavior. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.
Douglas, J. D., & Waksler, F. C. (1982). The sociology of deviance: An introduction. Boston: Little, Brown.
Jensen, G. F. (2007). The path of the devil: early modern witch hunts. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Orcutt, J. D. (1983). Analyzing deviance. Chicago: Dorsey Press.