Essay Sample on Theories of Juvenile Crime

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  955 Words
Date:  2021-04-05

Social control theory states that people engage in criminal activities after their bond to the community weakens. According to the theory, individuals are naturally argumentative, shy, and aggressive creatures and always in search of glory even if it means the use of violence to control their fellow human beings. On the other hand, labeling theory is where criminals forms those habits have they have been negatively labeled by others, and the consequence of this is developing their identity depending on their actions. According to the theory, deviance and conformity do not result from what a folk does but emerges due to how others respond to those actions. It means that criminal or deviant behavior is socially constructed. Social control theory was formulated to help individuals to know how they can come up with strategies that will assist them in curbing criminal behaviors in the society. Laws are formulated to ensure people abide it, or they have to adhere to fundamental beliefs of the society such as morals, values, commitments and relationships. Additionally, the theory examines how the community or society influences the criminal activities. It states that when the peoples are involved or are in touch with the community, chances of committing crime reduces. According to labeling theory, deviant behavior emerges and progresses to be dominant as the society continues to label their fellow human beings as deviant. This means that when people define a situation as real the consequence is that it becomes real (Bernburg, 2017).

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According to Ortiz (2011), social control theory consists of four elements. One, internalization of conscience, and superego depends on the persons attachment to others. Second, individuals obey policies because they fear the repercussions of breaking them. Third, an individuals personal involvement in community activities deters them from crimes. People who are heavily involved in conventional business do not have time to engage in crime activities or deviant behavior. Lastly, beliefs of culture play a significant role in determining the value system of a community. Beliefs of the society determine whether individuals will engage in criminal activities in two ways. The first one is that a person may completely disregard values that he/she has been taught. Also, individuals may be involved in criminal activities even though they know it is wrong (Ortiz, 2011). This means that odds of these types of criminals are very minimal since they can easily be curbed by engaging individuals in conventional activities. The white collar crime is the only crime which is tough to curb by use of this theory since these people are offered by the society all that it can afford, but they still engage in deviant behavior knowingly.

The two theories; social control theory and labeling have some similarities which make them co-exist. Firstly, persons who participate in criminal activities as result of being alienated from conventional activities, the society might turn to them and starts labeling them as criminals, and in the long run, these individuals will turn to real criminals. Secondly, when people disobey the social values and commit a crime knowingly such as that of white collar, they may react by alienating themselves from their groups such as workmate. In the process, they may be labeled names such as corrupt and at the end may be involved in the key crimes in future. Individuals who do not obey rules set by the society according to social control theory may be label as deviant, and as a result of this, they may be involved in the chief crimes and eventually be sent to the prison where their behavior may be given an opportunity to thrive.

Labeling theory distinguishes deviance into two categories which are primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviances are the little reactions that one gets from others and have little impact on an individuals self-concept. According to Bernburg (2017), Secondary deviance is when individuals push a deviant folk out of their social group, and the person is forced to look for a company of folks who can tolerate such behavior. Secondary deviance leads to a stigma that is a powerful negative social label that eventually changes a persons self-concept as well as his/her social identity. The criminal activities have consequences in our society such has been sent to prison after engaging in criminal activity. According to this theory, being forwarded to the penitentiary is a way of labeling such an individual as criminal and his/her behavior may be given a platform to thrive further while being detained in prison. It means that the odds of this behavior thriving are very high as the individual who commits a crime is always criticized in the society. Social institutions such as the law, the media, the police, as well as the media assist in shaping or magnifying criminal behavior (Bernburg, 2017).

Labeling theory plays a great role in influencing the criminal behavior as well as the attention made when crime happens. The theory criticizes criminal justices and other agencies for the role they play in making crime dominant in the society instead of curbing them. Labeling theory can be used by the authority to understand the emergence of gang culture and other criminal behaviors as result of criminalizing the juvenile offenders instead of addressing the issues that might be leading such anti-social behaviors. Social control theory should be applied to explain why the individuals who are economically challenged are highly involved in criminal activities. Hence to curb such activities, all people should be involved in the societys economic activities and avoid segregations based on the economic advantages that one has in the society.


Bernburg, J. (2017). Labeling Theory. Retrieved from

Ortiz, M. (2011). The Social Control Theory. Retrieved from

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