Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Crime, Social Issues, Age, Criminal Justice, Curve, Theory, Victimology, Adulthood

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/15

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“The age crime curve consists of crimes that take place and which are the most common during the mid to late adolescent years of life. The urgency of crime increases with age until individuals reach about 16 to 20 years old. However, the urge to commit a crime decreases with age when entering adulthood for various reasons such as maturing of the brain, forming a relationship with the opposite gender, entering college or the workforce, among other reasons. The curve applies to adolescents in all demographic and socioeconomic categories as well as for all types of criminal offenses. “For example, the peak age of conviction for some crime types, such as burglary, was discovered to be far lower than others at around 16 years of age or less. Motor and drug offenses peaked between the ages of 21-25 before waning; whereas convictions for crimes such as fraud and forgery also peaked between 21-25, but remained high until 30 years of age. The peaks all occurred, however within young adulthood, while the patterns and trends were very different” (McVie, 2010, p. 3). The acts of crime, in some cases will reach its peak depending upon a variety of characteristics and conditions” (Everything Psychology, 2014). As previously mentioned, the peak will be reached when the brain matures, so therefore fewer crimes will be committed. Research has suggested that “criminal behavior is a result of or a response to feelings of tension, such as anxiety, or anger due to stressful events such as the death of a family member or parents divorcing. When individuals experience these forms of stress, they most likely will engage in impulsive and egocentric behavior to overcome these feelings (Everything Psychology, 2014). The general conclusion of this theory is that these adolescents are only experiencing a “rebellion phase”.
Nonetheless, throughout the remainder of this discussion, we will review the correlation between the age crime curve, the criminal career debate, how the age curve made contributions to the developmental criminology, and Sampson and Laub’s age-graded theory of social control.

Criminal Career Debate

“The decline in the age crime curve can also be the termination of criminal careers, and whether if it increased with age for those offenders who remained active after the peak. The age crime curve that happens in the early adulthood years reflects both a lower offending contribution and rate after the peak. Many early studies on criminal careers have become classic in criminology and reinvigorated the study of criminal careers and generated much debate. It is essential to carry out longitudinal research in order to understand critical questions about criminal career patterns, including the important distinction between the participation (prevalence) of offending and the frequency (incidence) of crime”(Petras, 2007). The author further points out that, “participation refers to the proportion of a population who is active offenders at any given time, while the frequency refers to the average annual rate of active offenders commits crimes. Frequency characterizes the rate of crimes of individual offenders. The difference between participation and frequency is significant when studying the age-crime relationship. The aggregate age crime curve could come from both age-graded differences in participation (more adolescents than adults actively involved in crime) and from age- graded differences in rates. Theories of crime may require various explanations for the two magnitudes because the reasons stimulating individuals to become involved in crime overall may vary from the factors affecting the frequency with which consistent offenders commit crimes” (Petras, 2007).

Developmental Criminology

“From the criminal career perspective, the idea arises that chronic offenders are a distinct population of individuals that do not desist from crime. Research implies that these criminals will continue offending at a high rate, such as chronic offenders, as they age and become older. The longitudinal research has tried efforts to decide the age-crime and “offender group” question, but it suffers from three major limitations: 1) criminal careers are studied over limited portions of their life period, 2) trajectories of crimes committed are identified as retrospectively, based on the outcome, rather than prospectively, based on the causal reasons alleged to differentiate populations of offenders, and 3) prison and death are typically not accounted for in guessing such a desistance”(Laub, 2003).

Sampson and Laub’s Age-Graded Theory of Social Control

This theory suggests that “individuals who have more social capital, satisfying marital bonds, stable employment and career goals in adulthood are more likely to desist from committing more crime. It includes stages of onset to 18 years of age (structural factors- low income families, per se), 18-25 years of age (cumulative continuity-juvenile crimes carried over to adulthood), and 25-45 years of age (career criminals- not able to reestablish bonds to society, in and out of prison). However, this theory was only an addition of Gottfredson and Hirschi social bonding theory. The counter argument is that adolescents with weak ties to society will be less likely to have quality social bonds in adulthood, unless there is a positive turning point in their lives such as marriage, job stability, or military service”(Devers, 2011, p. 6). Furthermore, Sampson and Laub utilized the Glueck sample data to create their theory. This data system consisted of 1000 children altogether, 500 at risk males and 500 non delinquent males all between the ages of 15-17 years of age. The most interesting factor about this study however is that it is the longest study ever conducted on criminals consisting of death records, recorded tape and visual interviews, and criminal records.


Devers, L. (2011). Desistance and Developmental Life Course Theories. Retrieved from BJA: https://www.bja.gov/Publications/DesistanceResearchSummary.pdf
Laub, J. (2003). LIFE-COURSE DESISTERS? TRAJECTORIES OF CRIME AMONG DELINQUENT BOYSFOLLOWED TO AGE 70. Retrieved from http://scholar.harvard.edu/sampson/files/2003_crim_laub.pdf.
McVie, S. (2010). PATTERNS OF DEVIANCE UNDERLYING THE AGE-CRIME CURVE: THE LONG TERM EVIDENCE. British Society of Criminology, 7. Retrieved from http://www.britsoccrim.org/volume7/007.pdf
Petras, H. (2007). PARTICIPATION AND FREQUENCY DURING CRIMINAL CAREERS OVER THE LIFE SPAN. Stat Model, 35. Retrieved from http://www.statmodel.com/download/Lambda2008.pdf
The Age Crime Curve. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.psych-it.com.au/Psychlopedia/article.asp?id=445

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