Criminology Theories

This Paper will discuss what theories can explain the deviant behavior of the characters in the movie Boyz N the Hood. What Starts Criminal Behavior? History shows that through life violence is a cycle within itself. Criminology shows different views on how and why criminal behavior happens. By watching the movie “Boyz in The Hood” we see the crimes take place and show why these events happened. Based off the information from class and from past theories I formulate my own theories of why crime happens.

The movie Boyz in the Hood is based off the life of young black man living with his mom and moving to Watts, California to live with his dad. The movie brings friendship, parenthood, violence, and revenge into one concept of how parts of the country are. The people living in the ghetto’s are always classified as non educated and non-employed or both. In the movie Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the Character Trey. And when he was younger his teacher called his mother but instead of discussing the issue at hand she asked if his mother was employed.

Throughout the years Trey gets closer to his father but gets exposed to more of what’s in the streets than usual teenagers. Eventually his father feels that he starts to lose control over his son Trey. This brings out the Social Control Theory. According to Schmalleger (2010/February, 4th)

Social Control Theory focuses on the strength of the bond that people share with institutions and individuals around them. He doesn’t want to put too much control over Trey because it would crowd him nor does he want to lessen his control over Trey because he could possibly loose him to the streets. The struggle of a father trying to guide his son away from the trials and tribulations of the street culture is making it a harsh reality to families living in the ghetto.

Although there are bad things in the streets of the ghetto there is some good like the bond between friends. Trey and his best friend Ricky has been close since after Ricky’s brother Doughboy went to jail when they were younger. They have been through a lot involving the police. There was a scene in the movie where Trey and Ricky gets pulled over for no reason and a black officer pulls a gun out on Trey and starts labeling about him and Ricky as gang members or thugs. According to Schmalleger (2010/February, 4th) the Labeling theory or Tagging theory is the process where by an individual is negatively defined by agencies of justice.

The bond they shared was different but similar to what Trey has with his father Furious. They looked at each other as if they were brothers. In their eyes they were brothers from another mother. This bond they shared gets severed when Ricky gets shot in the alley. Social Bond Theory came from a man named Travis Hirschi (1969) he says that when a bond is weakened or broken deviance and crime may result components of social bond. Now in some ghettos crime starts with just as simple as a push or shove. That creates revenge to kill or hurt someone because of what happened to them or to a friend or family member.

Another character I also saw a lot of theories in is Doughboy acted out by Ice Cube. In the movie you see that the mother treats Doughboy a lot different than how she treats Ricky. She sees Doughboy as a thug that won’t live up to nothing and she sees Ricky as a trophy piece because was going to college to get a degree, plus he had a good chance of becoming a professional football player. Deep down in Doughboy’s eyes he feels like he is in a shadow of his little brother and that he shouldn’t get treated differently just because they were born by different dads.

That’s hurts Doughboy and it seems like he is into the streets because that’s the only thing that is giving him the attention that he wants and needs. Doughboy feeds on the attention that he gets from the streets of L.A. It helps him think he is wanted by people that love him. In his mind it’s a lost relationship with his mother because even if he tries to do stay out of jail, try and do right by her she still wouldn’t care or even notice that he is trying to build a mother-son bond between them.

So it gets to the point where he seeks and gets revenge on the guys who killed his brother Ricky. And he doesn’t care if their guys come back in retaliation to kill him. There was a quote he said in the movie saying “either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” He has a good point because the people that do care is either scared to say anything or has never lived in the ghetto before so they can only go by what other people say that’s happening in the streets.

Most people get killed over what is known as the “Code of The Street.” In the movie it shows that their code of the street was revenge. They killed Ricky Doughboy and his friends killed them. It also shows that violence and crime happens all over something petty. In one scene in the movie they show Ferris walking into Ricky for no reason but to start something with Ricky and the rest of the guys. That is a clear look of how stupid criminals, thugs, or gangsters are in society today.

While the kids had issues dealing with the inside enemies and police. The parents had to deal with the responsibilities of keeping their children in line. But not all adults are meant to be parents. In the movie Mrs. Baker acted out by the actress Tyra Ferrell plays the mother of Doughboy and Ricky. She had no job and stayed behind her son Ricky because she knew what he was capable of achieving in his life before he died. Before Ricky died he had a Recruiter from USC come to their house for a mini interview.

Social Learning Theory was being used in this scene because Mrs. Baker changed her whole image so she could try and help make an impression to the recruiter to help better Ricky’s chances to go to a university. A theorist named Albert Bandura (1998, November 30) says that Social Learning Theory is the behavior theory most relevant to Criminology. He says that people learn new behavior through observational learning of their environment.

Her treatment to her son Doughboy was because of his father. In part of the movie she talks about him and degrading him saying that he wouldn’t amount to anything. And how he grew up to be the person he became made it even worse because she saw even more of his father in him. If she would have treated them both the same, gave them the same amount of attention Doughboy would not have turned out to be a thug in the street. The crime could decrease in society if kids had morals like the older generation. But of course you get a parent that is not attentive to their kids and turn out to be thugs in the long run.

  • Schmallenger. (2010)
  • Bandura, Albert (1998) www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/bandura.htm