Social learning theory argues that people usually model their behavior according to how others behave within a social context. Therefore, observation plays a very crucial role in behavior modeling.
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Initially, the theory relied highly on behaviorism and explained behavior as a result of environmental impacts on an individual. In recent years, the theory has embraced the fact that cognitive factors as well as information processing is crucial in modeling behavior of a person. Therefore, the theory has seen the importance of reward and punishment in behavior modeling.
On the other hand, social control theory explains that people need to be socialized to internalize various societal norms so that they can individually regulate their behaviors. The most initial form of the theory looked at delinquency as an individual failure of a person to control their behaviors.
Later on, some sociologists modified the theory by explaining that though every person is likely to commit crimes, those who have much to lose refrain from breaking the law. In recent years, social control theorists argue that by using a third party to act as an example, it is possible to make people refrain from committing crime.
The two theories are somehow different in the way they explain antisocial behavior like delinquency. According to social learning theory, people who associate with criminals or children whose parents are criminals are more likely to engage in criminal activities. This is because people modify their behavior by learning from others in the society, especially those close to them.
On the other hand, social control theory argues that delinquency results when people are not trained to limit their tendencies to engage in crime. The theory argues that people should be given limited behavior characters to choose from to avoid delinquency.
Labeling theory seeks to explain the effect that negative labeling can have on behavior of people. Initially, the theory was based on the idea that difference in treatment after one has committed a crime affects self image of people. Lately, the theory has differentiated deviance into primary and secondary deviance.
Therefore, modifications to the theory illustrate that people’s interaction as well as reaction to labeling are crucial in explanation of deviancy. The theory is different from others because it concentrates on the effect that negative labeling has on behavior of people. In essence, it focuses on the reasons why people repeat criminal behaviors. The theory can be used to rehabilitate people who have committed crimes to ensure that chances of people repeating crimes are reduced.
Conflict theories on the other hand use class conflict to explain crime. According to these theories, economic conditions have the ability of influencing people’s behavior. Consequently, socio-economic inequality precipitates criminal activities. The theories include race-conflict theory, critical theory and feminist theory among others.
The theories argue that there are two types of crime in society; those committed by the ruling class to maintain there status quo and those committed by the lower class to fight the ruling class. The theories explain that reduction in inequality of power distribution will greatly reduce crime rates.
Family being the basic unit of society has a very crucial role to play regarding behavior control. Most people grow up in family settings and the family can impart desired behavior while people are growing up. The family should train their children on the right behavior through rewarding the good behaviors and punishing the bad ones.
This will ensure that people grow up with good moral characters. On the same note, if people are given the required social, psychological and economical support by their family, they are less likely to get involved in delinquent behavior.
However, the family today is not as it was anciently. Many couples nowadays are working, both the husband and the wife. This has reduced time that parents spend together with their children. Consequently, parents are not able to know early when their children are developing deviant behaviors. This has led to increased cases of juvenile delinquency. Moreover, family ties are increasingly getting loose and these will increase criminal activities.
Both men and women are likely to commit crimes since there is nothing biological that deters the probability of either gender to commit crime. On the same note, boys and girls usually stand the same chance of being involved in delinquency. However, theories show that girls have strong emotional attachments to their families than boys. On the same note, in almost every family girls are very strictly monitored compared to boys. This explains why statistics show that many boys break the law compared to girls.
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Schools bring pupils from various backgrounds together. Some of these children have delinquent tendencies or have once been involved in delinquent activities. As a result, chances of other children developing delinquent behaviors are high given the influence they are likely to receive. On the other hand, schools have rules and regulations which must be followed by students. In this regard, schools help to reduce delinquency to a given extent.
In schools, rewards are issued to those students who exhibit desired behavior. This ensures that students are encouraged to conform to the correct behavior. Similarly, punishments are administered for incorrect behavior as explained by social learning theory. In this way, students are made to refrain from behaviors that will make them get punished. Furthermore, as social control theory suggests, students modify their behavior depending on what they see happening to their fellow students when they exhibit various behaviors.
However, schools have not been able to effectively control delinquency due to various reasons. Firstly, nowadays parents have become very busy and do not have time for their children. As a result, they delegate the duty of behavior modification entirely to teachers. Unfortunately, teachers cannot monitor children after school hours.
Consequently, children can exercise delinquent behaviors after school. Secondly, peer pressure has significant influence on children which increases juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, given the large numbers of students that teachers have to attend to, it is difficult for them to discover when every child is deviating from expected behavior. As a result, delinquency still takes place in schools.
The failure of schools and family to guide people is well depicted in the Columbine massacre. Erick Harris and Dylan Klebold who carried out the crime had very many problems. Firstly, their school failed to recognize when they were being bullied and rectify the same. Secondly, the boys were isolated from other students due to the treatment they received a fact that led to depression.
However, both their parents and their teachers did not notice this. It should be known that labeling theory explains behavior of people under such circumstances. On the same note, the boys were not properly supervised and this was the reason why their ill motives were not discovered upfront. Furthermore, their parents knew that they belonged to a certain informal group but did nothing to correct them. Additionally, when the boys were developing a sub culture, neither the teachers nor the parents were close to notice that.