Behind every crime committed, there is a theory that drives it. Crimes are intentional and they are not random. The opportunities that pave the way to the commission of the crime are also not random. Crime opportunities may come from unsuspicious occasions or events like daily routines, urban structures and social networks. Lack of control of elements provides opportunities for crimes. Each crime has its own complexity that is related to the offenders, the victims, and the environment of the crime. First we have to understand what crime is. A crime may be an act that is followed by legal punishment.
It is a legally forbidden action and the punishments also depend on the seriousness of the crime committed. The difficulty with trying to understand crime is that any attempt to do so demand knowledge on many different aspects and areas. However, the study of crime does not entirely depend on psychology, but it does contribute a lot. Psychology is an important factor when dealing with criminology because the theories to be used are very crucial. For example, was the offender a rational being? Did the crime occur due to influences from the environment or other external forces?
In understanding how a crime was committed, we also have to dissect the reason behind it, as well as how to prevent it from happening again. There are different crime theories that help crime analysts understand and predict how offenders and their victims behave. One is the Rational Choice Theory. In this theory, the offenders make their choices about committing crimes based on anticipated rewards or opportunities. In reality, any person will commit a crime if given the right opportunity. Individuals will also decide not to commit a crime if the risks are too high or if the rewards do not match up to their standards.
Second is the Routine Activities Theory which focuses on the opportunities for crime commission due to changes in behavior in a society. A study showed that changes in Americans’ routines provided an increase in crime rate during 1947 to 1974. For example, the increase in Americans who left their houses on a daily basis to go to work increased, and therefore, guardianship in their houses decreased and left opportunities for burglars. Likewise, change in routines and behavior can also decrease the rate of crime. Examples of this is increasing supervision of children and increasing security of homes and properties.
Last is the Repeat Victimization. This states that people and places who have been victimized before have a higher chance of being victims once again than the ones who haven’t been victimized yet. There are four types of repeat victimization namely: people/places that get highly victimized, properties that are repeatedly victimized like consumer items which are attractive to thieves, specific locations or areas that always suffer from crime, and types of places that get victimized though not in the same area. If crime commission is a stage, there are actors.
In 2003, Ronald Clarke and John Eck designed the crime triangle. Figure 1. The Crime Triangle by Ronald Clarke and John Eck (2003) The crime triangle shows that a crime only happens when the offender and the victim come together at a particular place. The outer triangle (handlers, managers, and guardians) show the types of people who can control the three elements in the inner triangle. Guardians are the ones who protect the victims, like victims themselves, government officials, security guards, and owners of properties.
Managers are the ones responsible for the different areas. Examples of managers are hotel clerks, store clerks and building managers. Handlers are the people who know the offenders personally and they hold such positions that allow them to control the ones who committed the crime. Parents and police officers are examples of handlers. For a crime to take place perfectly, the actors must play their parts well. There must be a person who is willing and able to commit a crime, a vulnerable target, and a venue which lacks security.
Still, a better situation is that which has no crime involved. Crime should be prevented, and one way to prevent crime is to understand the behaviors of the offenders. Since crimes are based on opportunities, it is best to reduce them. It is also important to understand how criminals think. Some commit crimes because of personality disorders such as the Antisocial Personality Disorder. With this disorder, the chances of being a psychopath are high. Psychopaths are manipulative and they seem to lack social conscience. They engage in criminal activity often.
Aside from psychopathology, there have also been many hypotheses on what causes crime, and how behavior affects crime as well. Bandura claims that violent role models in the environment can affect the offender’s subconscious since most of the human behavior is from observing others. There are other behavior types and theories connected to the criminal mind which will be discussed later. In relation to this, understanding the behavior of the offenders is necessary to be able to prevent the crimes from happening again. C
Crime prevention is a difficult task, often mistaken for crime control, though the two things are really different. A study was conducted on how new approaches in preventing crime and delinquency could be done. In “Preventing Crime in America and Japan: A Comparative Study” by Robert Thornton and Katsuya Endo, it was emphasized how the crime rate in Japan is low compared to America and other countries. There have been theories made as to why the crime rate in Japan is low, and these theories have something to do with behavior of the people.
The population in Japan is extremely homogenous, which means that the people have a strong sense of community. There is a high level of citizen involvement in activities dedicated to preventing crime. In Japan, there is a hierarchy system in which the rank and status of a person is an important part of the society. Work ethics of the Japanese are strong, and the workers are all diligent and dedicated to their jobs. Japan also has an extremely low unemployment rate, which may be a vivid reason as to why there are little reports of robberies or theft.
Japanese also have high respect for their laws and they cooperate with the police. The schooling and education system in Japan also contributes to crime prevention because they have what they call “character education. ” At a young age, Japanese are brought up with discipline and a sense of social responsibility. To successfully carry out crime prevention plans, we need to get in the mind of the offender and think like one too. We must be critical and also take into consideration what measures we must take in case of intervention of authorities. Situation given:
I am a student with many extra-curricular activities and affiliations. I live away from home, and I live with my grandparents. My parents send me money through my ATM every week to pay for my school stuff and also for my allowance. Recently, I have been under a lot of pressure regarding payments and fees. I barely have enough to feed myself when I am not in the house of my grandparents. The main problem is that I now have no cash on hand and I have to pay my fees within 24 hours, or else I get kicked out of my affiliations. The total cash I need is $1000.