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A Boy and Theories, Essay Example

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By definition, labeling is when “people become stabilized in criminal roles when they are labeled as criminals, are stigmatized, develop criminal identities, are sent to prison, and are excluded from conventional roles” (Cullen and Agnew, 2012).  This theory does not allow a person to live a decent life after they have committed any sort of crime. They are always going to be labeled the drug dealer, the murderer, the abuser. This does not allow them to continue their lives without being attached to a stigma. Control theory assumes that criminal motivation is widespread. Many researchers believe that if a person’s social bonds and self-control are intact, they will be less likely to commit a crime. Therefore, they are able to control their behavior and not commit crimes. Finally, differential association is based on the assumption that crime is “learned through associations with criminal definitions” (Cullen and Agnew, 2012). This theory actually focuses on how people learn to become criminals. This shows us that if people learn about crime from criminals already, they are more likely to commit their crime of choice. They learn how to do these crimes by surrounding themselves with individuals who already do it themselves (Cullen and Agnew, 2012).

In reference to the crime for this paper, the 16 year old boy who decides to start selling drugs to fellow students in his high school may have many reasons for doing so. This boy may already be labeled as a deviant child, may have a bad reputation with teachers and other students, and may already have been accused of committing the crime. Therefore, he is continuously going to be labeled a drug dealer. When a person is labeled, they are more likely to commit the crime they are being labeled for due to the fact that people already think he or she is doing it.

This boy also may not have specific positive social bonds with family, friends, co-workers, or others in his direct path. When a person does not have positive social bonds with others, these individuals tend to act out to find a way in which to create social bonds with others. This boy may have wanted to develop friendships with others and this may have been the only way in which he knew how to do it. If he had access to the drugs, he would be cool to others and many would look to him for help. He may just be looking for a friend or someone that cares enough to help him be someone other than a drug dealer.

Finally, “differential association is a theory developed by Edwin Sutherland proposing that through interaction with others, individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behavior” (Wikipedia). If this kid was already interacting with other drug dealers (which he had to have been in order to get the drugs), he is more likely to become a criminal. He is learning the values, attitudes, techniques and motives of a criminal so that he can be one of them. Differential association theory claims that, through learning, anyone can be a criminal. This is where control theory and the labeling theory come in. If this kid does not want to be labeled a criminal for the rest of his life, he must learn self-control and forget about selling drugs to other high schoolers.

In conclusion, using the definitions of these theories, this 16 year old kid who decides to start selling drugs to his fellow high school students may have underlying problems that others do not see. His social bonds may not be of the best quality, he may be having problems at home, he may be part of a family that is already involved in criminal activity and he learns this from them, and he may not have any self control. At this point, he learns how to be a criminal, decides that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing it, including friends, money, and a reputation, and then, after being caught (and even while selling the drugs before getting caught) he is labeled a drug dealer or a criminal for the rest of his life. This will go on his permanent record at school and if the worst happens and he goes to jail, he will now be labeled a criminal his entire life just because he sold those drugs during that period of his life. The question is: Is it really worth it?

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