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The Socialization Process and Its Role in Criminal Behavior, Essay Example

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Socialization is the process by which a person learns how to live according to the norms and guidelines of society. The socialization process is informed by a wide variety of different influential individuals and groups, including family, peers, educational programs, religious organizations, and other factors. Some theorists believe that criminal behavior may be influenced by “inadequate or incomplete socialization” (Vito, Maahs; 172). Various theories, such as Social Process Theory, attempt to explain how the socialization process works, and how poor socialization can explain the propensity towards criminal behavior (Siegel, Welsh; 134).

According to Social Process Theory, the family is the most significant social construct in terms of socialization (Siegel, Welsh; 135). Poor or inadequate parenting can interrupt or hamper the maturation process. Inadequate parenting can manifest in numerous ways. When parents spend little time with their children, and leave them to fend for themselves, their children may have a difficult time adhering to social norms. Parenting that involves strict discipline, and that offers little emotional support, may result in children who exhibit antisocial behavior (Siegel, Welsh; 135). School performance may also signal the possibility of criminal behavior; students who are unable to adhere to the patterns of acceptable behavior in schools may continue to exhibit such difficulties as adults, which may lead to criminal behavior. Peer relationships are also linked to criminal behavior; children who are poorly socialized may become involved with peer networks that reinforce antisocial behavior (Vito, Maahs; 172).

The process of socialization involves a complex set of factors, and the manner in which it influences the possibility of criminal behavior is equally complex. Theorists have developed an array of explanations for how the propensity for criminal behavior arises, and there is no one set of easy answers. What is clear, however, is that when the process of socialization is interrupted, the possibility of criminal behavior becomes greater. This conclusion does not offer and quick solutions to the problem, but it does offer a vantage point for further research.

Bibliography

Vito, Gennaro; Maahs, Jeffrey. Criminology: theory, research, and policy. Jones & Bartlett Publishing. Sudbury, MA. 2012

Siegel, Larry J.; Welsh, Brandon. Juvenile delinquency: theory, practice, and law. Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont, CA. 2006; 2009.

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