Causes of Juvenile Criminals

Within the inner recess of man’s subconscious is a leopard bottled by morals and the social order. However from time to time the cork pops, and the leopard emerges and is seen, wild as ever. An example of this is described by Goldstein in his article. The article describes the abnormal activities of youths, who seize the opportunity to un-bottle the leopard. Three perspectives of violence had been postulated to explain human behavior  with respect to violence in general. This part of the paper tries to synthesis these perspectives of violence in order to explain the behavior of some who cause violence in clubs.

Three perspectives on violence in general are written by Sigmund Freud, John Dollard and David Riesman. Sigmund Freud, in his perspective, said that man has an inherent desire for aggression which is to be seen as part of their instinctive endowment and which he uses to assert himself in his environment. John Dollard in his perspective relates violence with age, saying that the more mature man becomes, the greater the inhibition and thus less violence in response to instigation. David Riesman however views the individual as part of a group and not being alone.

He is therefore under the influence of the needs of the people of this group who he knows either directly or indirectly. He therefore seeks to act in conformity with the goals of this group whether or not these people are present. All of these perspectives however all seem to point to the fact, that though the reasons may be different, given the right stimulus, man loses all the calm and charm brought about by morals and social order. The variance of the forms of these stimuli is amazing.

In the article in question the stimulus the boys needed was only the opportunity, created by there being together in a club in which a certain kind of dance (slam) whose “object is to knock each other down” took place. This then ends up in fights, injuries and vandalism, as when the object is to knock down, then the object also is to cause anger and thus create channels for the un-bottling of the leopard. Some however just reach out and hurt others for reason unknown and then there are those who inflict injuries on and hurt themselves.

In Sigmund Freud’s perspective on violence, he challenges ideal picture of modern man in a civil society. He declares that in man, the “desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment”. He refers to the aggression as an “endowment” thus pointing to an asset which man uses to assert himself and dominate in his environment. These facts of aggression, he claims, can not be disputed by anyone “in the face of evidence in his own life and in history”.

Indeed further evidence of this is seen in Goldstein’s article, where it is said: “The senseless violence, vandalism and even mutilation at some area rock clubs reads like reports from a war zone. ” Freud therefore asserts that the leopard is inherent in man and that “when those forces in the mind which inhibit it cease to operate, it manifests itself spontaneously”. These forces of inhibition vary from morals, shame and disgust shown by the people whom he feels the need to be liked by. These forces act as a leash and in the absence of which, order and tranquility quickly gives way to aggression and anarchy.

Freud further declares that though this aggression awaits temptation or provocation, it also asserts itself in situations in which the intended aim “might as well have been achieved by milder measures. ” This is shown in Goldstein’s article by a fan who says: “All they want to do is fight. And next time I’m gonna be ready to give ‘em one”. In this case the fan here carries this aggression which he wishes to express because of some form of provocation. He does not however consider that in retaliating, he becomes part of them and a nuisance to others, just as he feels now.

A milder option would be simply to avoid the dancers and carry out his activity away from them. After all there are those others in the audience who “dance in a loose circle around the action”. This way he does not disturb other and does not become part of them. In not taking this or other milder measures, the fan shows that the stimulus here is not a provocation but an opportunity. He only seeks an opportunity to let lose. While Freud’s theories explain man’s inhumanity to man, it does not explain the self inflicted injuries and torture expressed in the article: “. . .

a couple of girls carved X’s into their arms with broken glass”. Man does not assert himself with self affliction; he in fact needs the body to assert himself. Freud’s theory did not cover this behavior. The perspective of John Dollard et al gives further insight into the forces of inhibition expressed by Freud. Dollard declares that this inhibition is greater in adults “resulting from several sources of instigation”. The adult, having being exposed over time to various opportunities or instigations for aggression has now programmed his response to that which is more generally acceptable in the society.

His response is therefore not dependent on the instigation but on what holds in his environment, thus what makes him acceptable in his society. The adolescent, on the other hand, who is less exposed and has less knowledge of the society to which the adult is exposed, resorts to aggression against frustrating forces, as expressed in the article thus: “… these idiots kept punching us in the back. Finally I got fed up and started hitting these guys, even though they were bigger than me” (Dollard 1939, 24). At this point the young man was focused on aggression.

He does not even consider the size of the people, which he would have done under normal circumstances as he expressed in saying “… even though they were bigger than me. ” (Dollard 1939, 25). However in becoming mature, the youth would learn that which is acceptable in the society and respond accordingly. John Dollard et al’s perspective still does not capture the self afflicted torture expressed in the article. This cannot be captured in other part of “the predominant behavior symptoms of adolescence” which he refers to as “substitute response for those goal-responses which suffer interference”.

For self afflicted torture cannot be a substitute response for interference as it lacks a goal. John Dollard however elucidates the need for acceptance inherent in man. David Riesman declares, in his perspective of violence, that peer-group, reinforced by the mass media, and the relaxation of older patterns of discipline in children gives rise to what he called “other-directed” character in which “contemporaries are the source of direction for the individual – either those known to him or those with whom he is indirectly acquainted, through friends and through the mass media” (Riesman 1950, 12).

Dependence on these is planted early in life due to continuous exposure to these influences. He further explains that the goals towards which the other-directed person strives shift with guidance from the source, permitting a close behavioral conformity “through an exceptional sensitivity to the actions and wishes of others” and “not through drill in behavior itself, as in tradition-directed character”. This perspective of the situation is the most compelling as it explains the group action of the boys, which shows the other-directed behavior.

This is expressed in the article where violence is blamed on “… organized Huntington Beach-area punk gangs who make a practice of pummeling each other and slam dancing at area clubs. ” (Riesman 1950, 15). The perspective therefore takes violence beyond just the individual but to the individual as a part of a group and his need to be accepted in the group. The individual therefore does not act independently but strives to synchronize with the group.

Also like non-other, this perspective explains the action of those who inflict injuries on themselves as reported in the article where a girl “broke a bunch of beer bottles in the sink and ran her hands through the glass” and “girls carved X’s into their arms with broken glass”. In all these cases people acted in an other-directed manner driven by the “need for approval and direction from others” which is now the “chief source of direction and chief area of sensitivity”. Thus even when alone, the other-directed person conforms to the “others” and seeks acceptance.

Beside the bottled leopard is the need in man to be accepted. Man carries this as a social being. This drives man to violence and thus un-bottles the leopard when the group to which he wishes to synchronize with is violent. It can however cause a stronger hold on the leopard if the group is not violent. However, even in this case situations arise in which the leopard emerges, bringing surprise to all and even the man himself. How much man knows himself can determine how often this will occur.