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Public Shaming and Justice Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2021


Crime is considered one of the most significant evils of modern society, and the people who commit criminal offenses tend to be severely criticized. The degree of criticism usually depends on the seriousness of the offense. Nevertheless, almost any crime is subject to analysis. Therefore, a corresponding theory was developed to assess the level of criticism and its possible consequences.

Shaming as One of the Aspects of Justice

As a possible theory of how to reduce crime and build a more law-abiding society, Siegel (2010a) offers the concept of shaming, arguing that it is an efficient method for influencing people who violate the law. Also, the author gives a unique division of shaming into two types (Siegel, 2010a).

In the first case, shaming is about so-called stigmatization. This concept implies gradual degradation, and criminals are considered a class of society that must be subjected to universal shame (Siegel, 2010a). Perhaps this approach is partly justified. Nevertheless, according to the author, humiliation can hardly be considered a useful measure to combat crime, especially when it comes to young offenders (Siegel, 2010a).

The author calls the second variant of the concept reintegrative shaming and considers this type more promising and well-founded from a social point of view (Siegel, 2010a). The basic principle of this strategy is that shaming is designed not just to condemn a guilty person but also to take specific measures to correct the current situation and prevent crimes in the future. According to Oswald, Hupfeld, Klug, and Gabriel (2002), a need for punishment arises when society brings charges against criminals and hopes for just retribution. Nevertheless, if the justice system is guided solely by such motives, the fight against crime is unlikely to be successful. Therefore, it is necessary not only to blame but also to think through possible solutions to current problems.

Social Factors That Influence Deviance

As is well known, a person’s character is formed in childhood. Siegel (2010b) notes that the family is the primary determinant of behavioral formation; therefore, family relationships directly affect what features are inherent in a child. Constant humiliation, quarrels, and family conflicts are the causes of juvenile delinquency. Moreover, according to Siegel (2010b), children who grow with a single parent are also at a higher risk of becoming criminals.

Because of the lack of control, such adolescents spend a lot of time on the streets and among peers, often seeking support in dangerous company. Therefore, family values and the relationships of trust and support are fundamental factors in the formation of a child’s morally stable personality.

In addition to communication with parents, public life plays an essential role in the process of human development. As practice shows, children who frequently experienced humiliation and bullying at school often tend to exhibit deviant behavior (Siegel, 2010b). Also, a person’s self-perception plays a significant role. People with low self-esteem and complexes are sometimes inclined to display inappropriate behavior caused by uncertainty (Siegel, 2010b). Public norms and procedures are too strict for some individuals, and some people violate the law when trying to prove their uniqueness and originality. According to Oswald et al. (2002), people are not inclined to manifest criminal deviance without cause. That is why paying attention to people beginning in childhood is essential.


The theory of shaming divides crimes into two types and provides two different approaches to solving specific problems. Relationships among family members and social environment play a significant role in the process of personal formation and the emergence of deviant inclinations. People’s self-perceptions also affect their behavior and way of life.


Siegel, L. G. (2010a). Choice theory: Because they want to. In Criminology: The core (4th ed.) (pp. 83-106). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Siegel, L. G. (2010b). Social process theories. In Criminology: The core (4th ed.) (pp. 150-173). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Oswald, M. E., Hupfeld, J., Klug, S. C., & Gabriel, U. (2002). Lay-perspectives on criminal deviance, goals of punishment, and punitivity. Social Justice Research, 15(2), 85-98.

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