Developmental criminology - a study of criminal behavior

Focused on the investigation of criminal behavior, developmental criminology asks why people commit crimes at various stages of their development. The study of youths and childhood effects is given much focus. This essay aims to discuss the issue of developmental criminology with a focus on the following two issues: (a). How much does peer pressure and child neglect impact juvenile offenders' criminal behavior? (b). How much does participating in criminal activity during the juvenile and delinquent years affect criminal activity as an adult? The thesis of the paper is that child neglect at young age by their care takers and influence of the peers makes them to engage in criminal activities which are likely to be propagated at adulthood.

Sampson and Laub (1990) developed a study that investigated the influence of childhood to criminology while appreciating the influence social setting has on crime at adulthood. In the analysis of the trajectory and transitions of life span of human life, are likely to shape the criminal lifestyle of an individual. When a child is neglected at child age, they are likely to seek attention and company form bad company that is likely to influence them with actions of crime (Sampson & Laub, 1990). They do this to meet basic needs while at the same time enjoying the company of the of their peers.

The trajectory which is the pathway of lifespan is marked by major life events like marriage, world life, self-esteem, and criminal behaviors, while transitions are the events that occur over a short duration, over the life of a person. Study by shows that trajectories and transitions are related. Further, similar events often do not lead to same trajectories due to the different adaptations from different individuals. This means that different children shall lead different lifestyles when exposed to different forms of care at young age.

For instance, when a child engages in criminal activities they for a long time with little correctional efforts, they are more likely to end up being criminals at adult hood as compared to as child who was only exposed to criminology but was corrected with immediate effect. In most cases, children who have engaged in criminal activities at young age are likely to propagate the same activities at adulthood (Glueck $ Glueck, 1950). For example at adulthood, a juvenile criminal individual is likely to advance wife buttery and violence in the work place. Events like marriage have been found not to increase social control.

Social control theory has it that the environment we grow in influences who we become at adulthood. As such, very little influence at adulthood is little likely to influence a behavior developed at childhood and developed over the lifespan of a person.

The study by Wolfgang found that “Of the 185 subjects arrested as adults, 138 had a previous juvenile arrest as well”. In addition, the study found that, “ Most juvenile offenders (61%) avoid the stigma of arrest upon reaching adulthood; this finding is especially true for those with only one or two official offences before 18, 72% had no further arrests as adults” The study shows that if a at the young age the rates of engaging to criminal activities is low, there is a likely hood of changing for the better at adult hood (Wolfgang, 1972). The opposite can therefore be taken as true that for those exposed to a lot of criminal activities at juvenile stage, are likely to be victims of criminal activities at adulthood. The percentage of chronic delinquents was 54% which was much higher that than one-time delinquents. It can therefore be said that criminology in delinquents is a repetitive character that can develop to criminal behavior at adulthood (Wolfgang, 1972).

The study by Glueck and Eleanor claim that prospective delinquents start criminal behavior in their early years and can be identified as early as when they are six years old. If they are not contained at the early stages, they tend to repeat the criminal activities in their early stages of development and at adult hood. Little efforts influence of work life, marriage life has little efforts to change the behavior of crime (Glueck & Glueck, 1950).

Most of the adult criminals have a criminal record spanning back to their early years as juveniles. The act of criminology does not just develop all of a sudden at adulthood (Glueck $ Glueck, 1950). At adult stage, a person has already developed and engaged in most of social developmental activities but those with a trajectory of criminal activities are likely to continue with their crimes. They many occurrences of being in and out of jail do not always work to efficiently correct their character rather harden them and make them even better schemed crimes.

Most of the many criminal reports in the U.S. have been attached to gangs that were made many years back as childhood gangs. The number of juvenile gangs has continued to increase compared to the early years. This is attributed to the emerging forms of carefree lifestyles by the parents on their children with very little influence of the correctional institutions in curbing the character of the young. The in and out routine of the juveniles to correctional institutions have been associated with hardening of the juveniles and mastery of the criminal activities making them to grow into more serious criminals.

In summary, once the young develop criminal character, they are likely to propagate this character to old age. Efforts to correct them during their growth do not always make them to change their criminal behavior. Transitions in their lives last for only short while but events likely to involve one to crime may have devastating effects that span to adulthood. Many criminal adults have records of criminology where efforts to curb them have not been successful. They definitely end up forming larger gangs and carrying out expertise crimes.


McC, F. H. (1951). Unravelling juvenile delinquency. by sheldon and eleanor glueck. the commonwealth fund. 1950. [london: Oxford university press. 1951. xv and 385 pp. and (index) 11 pp. £2.]. The Cambridge Law Journal, 11(1), 168-169.

Sampson, R., & Laub, J. (1990). Crime and Deviance over the Life Course: The Salience of Adult Social Bonds. American Sociological Review, 55(5), 609-627.

Wolfgang, M. E. (1972). Delinquency in two birth cohorts. The American Behavioral Scientist (Pre-1986), 27(1), 75.

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