Pages:8 (2254 words)
Document Type:Research Paper
General Strain Theory
General strain theory (GST) offers a unique explanation of delinquency and crime, which is in direct contrast to control and learning theories. The differentiation is through the type of social relationship that leads to delinquency, and the motivation for delinquency. By analyzing GST, we can determine the effect or how criminal behavior is developed. GST looks at how a negative relationship will affect and individual and their possibility of developing towards crime. A negative relationship can be defined as any relationship of other people that is not consistent with the individual's beliefs of how they should be treated. In this paper, we have analyzed two articles all focusing on GST. However, the two articles differ in the negative stimuli being researched. Cullen, Unnever, Hartman, Turner, and Agnew (2008) is analyzing the impact of bullying while Watts and McNulty (2013) is analyzing the impact of childhood abuse. Both articles are looking at the linkage between the negative stimuli and the development of criminal or delinquent behavior. Both authors have managed to demonstrate there is direct like between bullying and development of criminal behavior and between childhood abuse and criminal behavior development. The strain that is being experienced by the children or individual results in anger, and as Agnew (2007) demonstrated, anger is one of the major factors of GST. The effect of anger towards deviant behavior has been well articulated by other researchers and the two articles have managed to create a link that demonstrates that with bullying and childhood abuse, a person does develop anger that will lead them towards an escape through criminal or delinquent behavior. Family-based strains have also been shown to cause criminogenic effects.
Cullen et al. (2008) and Watts and McNulty (2013) are both testing general strain theory in their different criminal justice research articles. General strain theory (GST) offers a unique explanation of delinquency and crime, which is in direct contrast to control and learning theories. The differentiation is through the type of social relationship that leads to delinquency, and the motivation for delinquency. GST focuses on the negative treatments that an individual experiences from others and it is the only major crime theory that focuses on the role of negative emotions in the etiology of offending (Warner & Fowler, 2003). The experiences of strain tend to generate negative emotions like frustration, anger, despair, and depression (Cullen et al., 2008). In turn, these negative emotions will create pressure in the individual for corrective action with delinquency and crime is one of the possible responses. GST states strains will likely increase the chance a person will be involved in crime, especially strains that are high in magnitude, which is seen as unjust or is associated with low social control. Some of the strains include parental rejection, a desperate need for money, criminal victimization, and discrimination. Crime can be used as a way of reducing or escaping from the strains, seeking revenge against the source of the strain, or alleviating negative emotions. GST has been applied to a scope of problems like explaining race/ethnicity, age, gender, community, and societal differences in crime rates. GST has also been applied to many crime and deviance types like police deviance, suicide, bullying, corporate crime, eating disorders, and terrorism. While most of the evidence has been shown to support that the strains do increase the likelihood of crime, the predictions of GST on the type of people who are likely to respond to the strains with a crime is not well supported in the literature.
GST looks at how a negative relationship will affect and individual and their possibility of developing towards crime. A negative relationship can be defined as any relationship of other people that is not consistent with the individual's beliefs of how they should be treated. Strain theory by itself looked at only preventing a person from achieving a positively valued goal in society. Agnew (2002) added two other types for them to develop GST. The first one looked at when a person took away a positively valued stimulus a person possesses and the second one looked at the presence of a negative stimulus presenting negative stimuli.
Comparing and Contrasting the Articles
Cullen et al. (2008) is making use of GST to determine the impact of bullying on delinquent involvement and substance usage. Watts and McNulty (2013) is using GST to test a model of childhood abuse and crime relationship. Cullen et al. (2008) believes that bullying is one of the strains that a child or adolescent can undergo that would result in them developing criminal behavior as a way of coping with the strain. Victimization has the potential to increase the chances of victimization, which could be a risk factor for subsequent offending. There…
…the child will be seeking a way to escape the violence and this would result in them engaging in criminal behavior. Due to too much pain, the child could seek out drugs to fight off the pain and once they begin to use illegal substances their behavior will be changed. The child would need to get money to buy the drugs and they would be forced to steal. This will be the start of their juvenile delinquency.
Physical and sexual abuse generates anger in the child as he or she is being beaten or being abused and they will need to find a way to escape all of this. There are instances of children running away from home or surviving through it all by hiding their feelings. Hiding those feelings does not work forever. When they reach adulthood chances of them remembering the pain is most likely. This will result in deviant behavior later on in life and could ruin a person's life as they will begin to engage in criminal behavior. Running away from home forced a child to experience the harsh life on the streets and here they will become a juvenile delinquent as he or she will have to fend for themself through illegal acts like stealing or robbing people.
Both articles can be linked to the self-esteem of the individual. When being bullied or abused a person's self-esteem is being impacted, which could be related to crime. Without any self-esteem, a person does not care what others think of him or her and they will be willingly participating in criminal activities. The two articles are complimentary of each other in that they have presented the same part of GST in two different ways. This demonstrates the impact of negative stimuli in an individual's life and how it can result in the development of criminal or delinquent behavior. By using two different aspects of victimization, the authors have reinforced GST and they have managed to show how criminal behavior can be predicted early. However, it should be noted that not all children or individuals who face these negative stimuli are likely to develop criminal or delinquent behaviors.
Therefore, caution should be taken before judging a person who is undergoing victimization. What is needed is to follow-up with the individual and offer them the guidance and support they need to ensure that they do not resort…
Agnew, R. (2002). Experienced, vicarious, and anticipated strain: An exploratory study on physical victimization and delinquency. Justice Quarterly, 19(4), 603-632.
Agnew, R. (2007). Pressured into crime: An overview of general strain theory. Los Angeles,CA: Roxbury.
Cullen, F. T., Unnever, J. D., Hartman, J. L., Turner, M. G., & Agnew, R. (2008). Gender, bullying victimization, and juvenile delinquency: A test of general strain theory. Victims and Offenders, 3(4), 346-364.
Warner, B. D., & Fowler, S. K. (2003). Strain and violence: Testing a general strain theory model of community violence. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31(6), 511-521.
Watts, S. J., & McNulty, T. L. (2013). Childhood abuse and criminal behavior: Testing a general strain theory model. Journal of interpersonal violence, 28(15), 3023-3040.
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