Is Crime a Biological or Learned Behavior?

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There has always been a fascination with trying to determine what causes an individual to become a criminal? Of course a large part of that fascination has to do with the want to reduce crime, and to determine if there is a way to detect and prevent individuals from committing crime. Determining what causes criminality is still not perfectly clear and likewise, there is still debate as to whether crime is caused biologically, environmentally, or socially. Furthermore, the debate is directly correlated to the notion of 'nurture vs nature'. Over time many researchers have presented various theories pertaining to what causes criminal behavior. There are many theories that either support or oppose the concept of crime being biological rather than a learned behavior. Earlier theories attempted to find a link between human physical characteristics and criminal behavior. In fact, this concept has been tested and modified over time. One theory, suggested by Franz Joseph Gall, is "that mental faculties and traits of character, such as acquisitiveness, benevolence, destructiveness, spirituality, combativeness, and imitativeness, are manifested in separate portions of the brain" (Thompson and Bynum, 2010, PP. 87-88). This system was called Phrenology; it was a popular belief in which practitioners' claimed that by measuring shape, irregularities and protuberances of the skull would allow them to find the mental and behavioral characteristics (Thompson and Bynum, 2010, P. 88). This theory has since been disproved. Another theorist, Cesare Lombroso, referred to as the "father of criminology," used a similar approach to Gall. He "measured the jaw bones, skulls, hands, and other physical traits of a group of prisoners and proposed that crimin... ... middle of paper ... ... an individual’s behavior. The debate of nurture vs nature may in fact be, as the text suggests, more like a nurture and nature scenario. Ultimately, determining the causes of criminal behavior is a very complex process that will continue to evolve over time. References: Hickey, T.J. (2010) Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Crime and Criminology, 9th Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Holder, Eric H. Jr., Robinson, Laurie O., Rose, Kristina. (2009). The Code of the Street and African-American Adolescent Violence. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/223509.pdf Meadows, R.J. (2010) Understanding Violence and Victimization, 5th Edition, Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc. Thompson, W. E. and Bynum J. E. (2010). Juvenile Delinquency: A sociological Approach Eighth Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
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