WHY DO PEOPLE COMMIT CRIMES?
Lisette M. Flores
Ivy Bridge College Of Tiffin University
You’re sitting in your living room watching the news, and as you’re watching the news, all you hear about is how this person robbed a bank, how someone hijacked a car, how this person killed this person, etc. The first question to pop up in your mind is, “What possesses these people to do such things?” We can come up with a few suggestions of possibilities, but is there really an answer to “Why do people commit crimes?” This is a question which many people wonder about every day. People commit crimes for many reasons. According to researchers they believe that people commit crimes due to the environment they in live, others believe it can be the cause of poor parenting, while others blame genetics.
Let’s begin with Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Power of Context.” In the article Gladwell theorizes that context, or external pressure, contributes much more to an individual’s behavior than previously thought. The context that Gladwell refers to can be defined by the situation an individual is in. A particular situation can have influencing factors, such as people or the environment that he or she is surrounded by. He further argues that his concepts, such as the “Broken Windows Theory”, are the main reasons for the dramatic fall of crime rates in New York during the 1990s. In this case, the broken window is a signal that the community in New York was neglected, causing others to commit other types of crimes too. Once the window is repaired, people will feel less neglected and refrain from committing other crimes. His main focus of his argument is that people are affected by their surroundings more than what they think. The influence that our environment has on us is the primary factor he uses to explain the “Broken Windows Theory”. Here, he describes a broken window left as it is and not being repaired. Because the window is left broken, he feels that people will cause more damage to the property. As he goes on to explain, the reason he states for the window gradually worsening in condition is because people see the damage so therefore it is a sign that no one really cares. This leads people to believe they can commit crimes too, in many cases, more violent:
”Muggers and robbers, whether opportunistic or professional, believe they reduce their chances of being caught or even identified if they operate on streets where potential victims are already intimidated by prevailing conditions. If the neighborhood cannot keep a bothersome panhandler from annoying passerby, the thief may reason, it is even less likely to call the police to identify a potential mugger or to interfere if the mugging actually takes place.”(Gladwell, 2009, p.155). Gladwell proves his theory with evidence from an experiment that was held at the Stanford University. Where people were split into two groups of prisoners and guards, the guards eventually abusing their power by ordering them to engage in physical exercises and wear bags over their heads. While the prisoners ended up rebelling and barricading themselves in their cells.
Another theory would be Siegmund Freud’s theory. One of his theories was the “pleasure principle.” “This basically means that humans have basic unconscious biological urges and a desire for immediate gratification and satisfaction”(Bryant, 2000-2013). Freud believed that if gratification and satisfaction could not be acquired legally, people would instinctively try to do so illegally. Freud also believed that we learn right from wrong when we are children and we also learn to control our desires. He believed that morals are instilled as a young child from their parents and that if these were missing it’s because of poor parenting. So in essence he is saying that if our parents teach us as children to control our desires and properly teach us right from wrong, we wouldn’t have desires to acquire things illegally. For...
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