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Environmental Relations to the Prevalence of Crime in a Community, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1146

Research Paper

Research question

What is crime? What drives an individual to commit a crime? What possible elements are available to introduce an individual to commit a crime? What environmental factors drive a person to commit a crime given that psychologists believe that the environment affects the behavior of a person?

Background

Crime is the breaking of laws or rules. Crimes can lead to prescribed convictions, rehabilitation, cautions or be unenforced. Every crime violates the law but not every violation of the law is counted as crime. Law is the legal and social institutions in our society. There are different ways to define antisocial behavior. The first one is equating genetic influences with delinquency and criminality (Jones, 2005). Second, personality disorders especially antisocial personality disorder can be associated with increased risk in criminal activity.

Physical environment features have been noted as to influence the chances of crime occurring. This is because they affect the potential lawbreaker’s perception about a possible site of crime, their evaluations of the possible site and visibility as well as availability of one or more natural guards at or near the site (Taylor& Harrel, 1996). The decision of whether or not the location of crime is suitable will depend on how easy it will be to enter the are, how attractive, visible and vulnerable the targets are, the chances of being seen, availability of a route out of the site and if the people in that the site will do something if they are seen.

An individual’s genetic makeup not only determines the physical features but may also influence the behavior and personality of the person. Most children inherit the personality traits of their parents. If your mother or father was an outgoing, thrill seeking and adventure seeker person, then, chances are that the children will also have the same character traits (Jones, 2005). Nurturing that occurs during the early years may determine the behavior and personality children. Researchers have also identified evidence that support the thought that the surroundings in which we reside play an important role in crime. Criminal behavior has been noted to be as a result of inherited characteristics. The surrounding environment can also modify an individual’s personality and characteristics (Jones, 2005). The arguments between the environment and genetics having a role in crime continue.

Research has established that genetics influence antisocial or criminal behavior. The agreement by researchers is usually on the point that genes influence disorders and personality traits. The family environment is usually critical to the upbringing of children. If there are problems, then children are likely to suffer the consequences. Some researchers have argued that family environments influence the hyperactivity of children. The risks often emanate from education, family structure, poverty and parenting practices (Jones, 2005). Families with weak family bonds and poor communication have a correlation with the way the child develops. Abuse or neglect of children in their early years is also an indicator of possible future criminal or antisocial behavior. Adults have the ability to choose the environment to live and the result of their choice will reinforce their personality traits either negatively or positively. Adolescents and children are, however, limited especially when choosing their environments, which greatly accounts for the influence of environmental factors in their childhood behaviors. Peer groups are also a significant factor in the development or bad or antisocial behavior. The main reason for such behavior is because of aggressive behavior in young children.

Physical features influence reactions to potential offenders through altering of opportunities to detect them. Efforts have been created to make locations more resistant to crime-related problems or crime. Housing designs or block layout has made it difficult to commit crime (Taylor& Harrel, 1996). This is made possible by increasing physical obstacles to committing crime, dipping the ease of use of crime targets, and removing barriers that prevention detection of offense in progress or potential offenders. Crime can also be reduced through the creation of safer use of neighborhood space. This can be done through reducing routine exposure of offenders to crime sites. The strategy will put careful attention to paths, walkways, streets, location and traffic patterns. This will reduce the possibility of crimes occurring in neighborhoods (Evans, Fyfe & Herbert, 2002).

Changes in physical features of the environment can prevent or reduce crimes. It can also reduce problems that are thought to be crime related such as resident’s concern about their neighborhood or fear of crime. Physical deterioration of the surroundings is a key causative factor in the prevalence of crime (Taylor& Harrel, 1996). It provides the potential offenders with ideas on how to benefit from the gaps in physical features. Theories concerning environmental and genetic influences exist, and they seem to suggest that the interaction between the two is the arousal theory of criminality. A psychologist created a model that is based on Psychoticism, extraversion and neuroticism. Psychoticism is associated with such traits as impersonal, antisocial, aggressive, cold and un-empathetic behaviors. Extraversion is related to traits of active, sociable, dominant, assertive and carefree behaviors (Jones, 2005). Neuroticism is associated with depressed, anxious, moody, emotional, low self-esteem and irrational behaviors. The three factors have been found to be heritable.

Conclusion

There is no adequate evidence to put a conclusion that genetics play a role in the conduct of an individual. However, there are environmental factors that have been proven to influence criminal or antisocial behavior of a person. Living in urban places, having poor social skills or having a low socioeconomic status can lead to a person being unsuccessful in reaching desirable goals, which can turn into criminal or antisocial behavior. A person can inherit genes. When the inherited genes are combined with right environmental factors, it can result to an individual engaging in criminal or antisocial behavior.

There is a need to identify those children who are vulnerable to certain personality traits or disorders that can later lead to criminal, delinquent or antisocial behavior. The society should try to focus their attention on rehabilitation and treatment of such individuals. Some environment and educational enrichment programs have been known to have lasting effects on children.  More of such programs should be developed, in the society, to be able to prevent future criminal or antisocial behaviors of children. It is therefore, appropriate to conclude that a person’s criminal or antisocial behavior can be as a result of both their environment, and genetic background in which they were raised. This is despite the continued debate concerning the two issues in an effort to separate nurture and nature.

References

Evans, D., Fyfe, N., & Herbert, D. (Eds.). (2002). Crime, policing and place: Essays in environmental criminology. Routledge

Jones, C. M. (2005). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Criminal Behavior. British Medical Journal

Sampson, R. J. (2011). The community. Crime and public policy, 210-236.

Taylor, R. B. & Harrel A.V. (1996, January). Physical Environment and Crime. A Final

Summary Report Presented to the National Institute of Justice. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from < https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/physenv.pdf>

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