Good Family Crime AND Violence Research Paper Example
One of the greatest social problems that ails the modern society is marital violence. Cases of marital violence are prevalent not only in the United States but across the entire world. Because of the high prevalence of this social evil in the society, it has been subjected to intensive research by scholars and social scientists across the world who want to understand some of its core elements. Consequently, there is a lot of literature available on this particular subject. Much the research has concentrated on the reasons behind marital violence and the factors that promote or motivate it.
According to Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, there are several primary explanations for this form of violence. The three explanations are categorized as; patriarchy and male dominance, childhood exposure to family violence and finally the criminal perspective. Each of these theories has its own set of concepts and arguments regarding the occurrence of marital violence.
The “patriarchy and male dominance” perspective argues that patriarchal institutions and cultural commitment to patriarchal institutions are primarily responsible for the proliferation of spousal abuse in the society. According to Simons, Simons and Wallace, (2004), the assaulting of women by men is a representation of a cultural prescription that is hugely cherished in the Western society as it displays male dominance, aggressiveness and female subordination. By assaulting women, men are simply using physical force as a way of enforcing their dominance over women and are thus living up to the standards expected of them. Therefore, the assault of women by men does not necessarily indicate psychopathology in men or even a troubled childhood. Alternatively this behavior emanates from a cultural perception or assumption that men are essentially the heads of households and to enforce their power and authority, they are allowed to use violence
Childhood exposure to family violence is one of the most widely accepted explanations of marital violence (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004). This theory argues that marital violence represents a behavioral pattern that is learned during one’s childhood. According to Simons, Simons and Wallace (2004), exposure to violence during one’s childhood increases the chances of an individual engaging in marital violence in future. The social learning concept is used to link the experiences in childhood to adult behavior and in this, it is argued that children who are exposed or who witness violence and aggression in parental interactions progressively learn that it is part of normal marital interaction and, therefore, when they get older, they are likely to engage in marital violence themselves.
The third and final explanation to intimate partner violence is the criminal perspective. This theory views intimate partner violence as an expression of a larger antisocial behavior pattern (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004). The theory argues that individuals who persistently engage in aggression towards their partners have a history of being involved in a variety of other antisocial behaviors (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004). These antisocial behaviors or traits could have been learned from parents.
Out of these, the theory that seems to hold more ground is the one linking childhood exposure to family violence to future intimate partner violence. Children who are growing up tend to observe and assimilate the behavior of their parents and internalize various beliefs about these behaviors. In many occasions, these children espouse these beliefs for the rest of their lives, and there is very little that can be done to change them. Therefore, a child who grows up seeing his father abuse the mother is likely to internalize the belief that this is a normal part of marital interaction and when they get married, they will have no reservations about inflicting the same kind of violence on their partners. Exposure to violence in childhood also involves the children being abused themselves and therefore learning that violence is acceptable.
This aspect was in fact proven by a study conducted by Sunday et al., (2011). The study examined a group of adults aged between 23 and 31 and who had been documented as recipients of physical abuse in their adolescence. The study found that these young adults who had been exposed to household violence had a higher likelihood of abusing their marital partners both physically and verbally.
The criminal perspective explanation is quite deficient because research has increasingly shown that many of the individuals who engage in marital violence do not actually engage in other types of antisocial behavior. In regard to patriarchy and male violence, this theory may not hold much ground as there is an increased emphasis on equality in many societies currently, and beliefs of patriarchy are increasingly diminishing.
Antisocial behavior among individuals in a society is exhibited in various forms. Some individuals engage in crime while other are aggressive and violent. These are just some of the ways through which antisocial behavior is expressed among members of the society. Researchers have often sought to understand the nature of various antisocial behaviors and their underlying motivations. Unfortunately, some researchers often go about it in the wrong way. It is important to take a life course perspective in antisocial behavior in order to understand this vice better. In simple words, the best way to understand the antisocial behavior of a person and to establish the underlying motivations for this kind of behavior is to examine the entire life of this individual.
One of the forms or models of life course perspective is the one proposed by Terrie E. Moffit, and that is commonly referred to as the Moffit’s Dual Taxonomy. The main argument of this theory is that delinquency essentially consists of specific categories of individuals who have unique natural histories, as well as etiologies (Moffit, 1993). The first category is made of delinquents who only engage in antisocial behavior of one form or another at every stage of life. The other category which is larger in size consists of individuals who only engage in antisocial behavior during their adolescence. These two categories can be explained through several theoretical concepts.
According to Moffit (1993), the stability of antisocial behavior has marked individual differences. Although some people behave in an antisocial manner, their antisocial behavior may be situational and temporary. On the other hand, the antisocial behavior of some individuals tends to be very stable as well as persistent. Situational or temporary behavior tends to be more common in the population (Moffit, 1993). This is especially among adolescents. The stable and persistence antisocial behavior can be found in a relatively small number of men who also exhibit some extreme forms of behavioral problems.
People who belong to the first category as mentioned express antisocial behavior for the entire duration of their lives. There is persistence and continuity of antisocial behavior in these individuals, for example, these people start hitting and biting at the tender age of 4, truancy and shoplifting by the time they are 10 years old, stealing cars and selling drugs when they are 16, rape and robbery at 22 years, child abuse and fraud at age 30 and so on (Moffit, 1993).
According to the Benson (2012), individuals of this nature stand out from the rest of their counterparts when they are young children. They are extremely aggressive as well as difficult to manage not only in the opinion of parents but also that of teachers. These individuals gain the attention of law enforcement in their pre-teens, and once they attain teenage hood, they engage in more violent and serious offenses than those committed by other normal teenagers. One they become adults, the individuals in this category lead extremely troubled lives. As their peers settle down, get jobs and even have children, these life course persistent offenders continue exhibiting and indeed following various patterns of delinquency and antisocial behavior (Benson, 2012).
The causes of this life course persistent behavior have their roots in early life. The first explanation relates to a juxtaposition of vulnerable as well as difficult infants with adverse parental context. Hereby, the challenge of coping that is presented by a difficult child lead to the conjuring of a chain of failed child-parent encounters. Simply put, parents may sometimes lack the physical and psychological resources that are needed to cope with a difficult child. The difficult temperaments of the child flow from neuropsychological deficits that ultimately have an effect on antisocial outcomes. These can, for example, include verbal deficits like reading and listening problems, problem-solving as well as problems in memory, writing and expressive speech. They can also be in the form of executive deficits that range from inattention, aggression, impulsivity, poor judgment among many others.
According to Moffit, these deficits are hugely related to antisocial behavior that commence in childhood and that persist for lengthy periods in the life of an individual (Benson, 2012). These behaviors persist even after the adolescence stage. There is contemporary continuity whereby the underlying traits that were causing childhood troubles continue. These include traits such as irritability, high activity level, low cognitive ability and poor self-control. In addition, there is an accumulation of consequences whereby individual differences prompt a set of cumulative problems in the person that then increases the probability of more antisocial behavior including criminal offending.
The second category of offenders according to Moffit consists of individuals who only commit offenses for short durations of time during their teenage hood. These people primarily start offending around the age of 14 or 15 and the types of offenses that they mostly engage in are minor in nature. The people in this category commit offenses for about two or three years before finally stopping or desisting completely. According to Moffit, before these individuals enter teen hood, they do not have any notable antisocial behavior history and in addition, they have little future for this kind of behavior in their adulthood (Benson, 2012).
The causal factors for engagement of delinquency in teenage hood usually begin operating when the people in this category become teenagers. These causal factors include biological age variability, increased importance and emphasis on peer relationships as well as changes in teenagers’ attitudes, aspirations, and values. These teenagers crave for recognition as adults although the society does afford them the opportunity to assume or engage in productive adult roles. A conflict emerges in that the society wants these individuals to behave like adults but this society does not give them the opportunity to embark on adult roles and does not also give them the freedom and autonomy that comes with an adult status (Benson, 2012). This then prompts the onset of social mimicry where the adolescent-limited delinquents mimic the behavior of life course persistence delinquents who appear to have more freedom and autonomy and who thus engage in activities such as drinking, smoking, having sex and skipping school (Benson, 2012). For them, this is a way of cutting ties with childhood and thus staking a claim on the adult status that they so much crave for (Benson, 2012). One these individuals reach the age of 20, the society now places adult expectations on them and gives them the opportunity to exercise their adult status. Because of this, they stop viewing delinquency as the only way to establish an adult status and consequently, they abandon delinquency completely.
In both cases, as seen, one thing that is clear is that family members play a great role in antisocial behavior. In life course persistent delinquents, this sort of problem can be traced to parents who do not have the physical and psychological resources to cope with difficult children. Therefore, the ability or incapability of family members plays a role in the proliferation of life course persistent delinquency in that if the family members are unable to cope and manage difficult children, there is high a likelihood of these children becoming delinquents for the entire duration of their lives.
The same applies to adolescence-limited delinquents. Normally, these individuals are expected to behave like adults in their teenage hood by their parents, as well as older family members and, in fact, the community as a whole. Unfortunately, this expectation by family members is not accompanied by the presentation of opportunities to exercise an adult status or fulfill adult roles. The failure of parents and other family members to present their teenage children with an opportunity to exercise their adult status and perform adult roles can push them towards delinquency or antisocial behavior.
Most of the theories on antisocial behavior seem to suggest that individuals are destined to be criminals by circumstances and events in their early life. However, it is personally my belief that it is possible for one to make choices later in life than lead to desistance of delinquency and antisocial behavior. Humans have been gifted with free will meaning that they have the ability to make conscious decisions about their lives and the meaning that they want their lives to have. One may be brought up in a crime laden background but in later life, it is entirely plausible for one to make a conscious decision to desist from crime and lead a straight path.
Benson, M. (2012). Crime and the Lifecourse: An Introduction. Routledge.
Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological review, 100(4), 674.
Simons, R.L., Simons, L.G., and Wallace, L.E. (2004). Families, Delinquency, and Crime: Linking Society’s Most Basic Institution to Antisocial Behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury. (ISBN 1- 931719-30-6).
Sunday, S., Kline, M., Labruna, V., Pelcovitz, D., Salzinger, S., & Kaplan, S. (2011). The role of adolescent physical abuse in adult intimate partner violence. Journal of interpersonal violence, 26(18), 3773-3789.
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