Criminal Psychology

Though these findings cannot be generalised to most youngsters as the studies used a sample of delinquent boys, they did however demonstrate that media violence may increase the antisocial tendencies of youths who are already very aggressive as Thompson and Venables (the killers of James Bulger) were already proven to be, and make the act of violent more surreal and less realistic. 

The psychological evidence which is relevant to the third assumption are those carried out by Farrington (1991b) and also by (Offord, 1982). Farrington carried out a field study in which he concluded from his results that if the family is large, it may be that children fail to receive individual attention and the poverty associated with large families (as was associated with Veneables' and Thompson's families) may result in parental stress, disorganisation and material deprivation.

This factor could cause a child (as they could have the two killers) extreme annoyance, discomfort and overall unhappiness with their situation causing them to attempt to want to rebel against it and the system that put them in such a situation by becoming delinquent. Also as concluded by Offord in 1982, exposure to delinquent siblings is another important factor and is more likely in large families where there maybe a 'contagion' effect, with children more reliant on sibling than parents as models of appropriate behaviours which was the case with Veneables', he was influenced by his brothers' delinquent, helping him form his own delinquent personality.

3. Using my own psychological and general knowledge and the issues raised from this article a number of positive suggestions can be made in regard to further improving the situation. In relation to the first assumption I would suggest that the promotion of 'heroism' with fictional action characters that actually promote violence should be minimised by film-makers, so that people, especially children would not imitate such acts of violence thinking it is heroic as shown by the 'Bobo doll' experiment conducted by Bandura. This would bring aggression due to imitation down to a lower level than it was before and cut down the growing number of aggressive individually growing up and turning to aggressive crime.

With regards to the second assumption I would suggest that the Film ratings would become more strictest and ages restricted to a higher level according to the amount of violence being shown in the film, and also stricter guidelines on renting and selling films of such nature, then maybe children like Veneables and Thompson wouldn't get hold of and be influenced by them.

In relation to the third and final assumption, I would suggest that the government would provide more benefits to those with larger families and more social care and advice to those who request and are in need of it, so maybe families such as those of the murderers' wouldn't have been at such loose ends and more devotion, attention and care would have been spent on the bringing up of the children and their parents would actually have time to understand and examine their child if they feel there is an underlying psychological problem and have it dealt with instead of letting it fester and escalate to such a scale that their children would result in committing murder.


Angles On Criminal Psychology - Diana Dwyer Applying Psychology to Crime - Julie Harrower