Social Control Theory

There were three versions of this theory but the Hirchi’s theory offered the most exhaustive explanation. Burfeind and Bartusch claimed that Hirchi’s social control theory is based on the reason of men conforming to the standard of society and not on the opposite. The thesis of the social control theory is “delinquent acts result when the bond of the youth to society is weak or broken” (p. 379). Hirchi theorized that there were four elements to be satisfied in his theory. They were attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Hirchi believed that youths who have strong attachment to their

parents were less likely to be delinquent. Attachment can expanded to school and peers as these are the institutions giving profound effect and inspiration for youth to be disciplined. Youths doing poorly in academics are usually unattached to the school and frequently do delinquent acts. Peer attachment is conducive to conformity. Hirchi theorized that the more one respect or admire ones friend, the less likely one will commit delinquent acts (p. 381). Commitment refers to loyalty to the cause or purpose of the institution or the school. The primary purpose of the school is to provide education. The more

committed the youth to acquire education and wisdom, the less likely he or she will commit delinquent acts. Involvement and belief is required to strengthen the commitment of the youth to the cause of the school. Based from the analysis above, the four elements should support each other for the youth to be a social conformist. If one of the elements looses its attachment to the rest, then the youth will likely engage in delinquent acts. In order to elucidate further the strength and application of Hirchi’s theory, let us consider the 1999 gun shooting incident at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

The analysis of the 3 shooting incident in relation to juvenile delinquency and Hirchi’s Social Control Theory was provided by Michael L. Pittaro in his article entitled School Violence and Social Control Theory. The two youths who did the fatal shooting of 12students and a professor with dozen others injured at the school cafeteria was named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (“Post-Columbine Research…” 1st line). Both of them hailed from a well- to- do family and rose in a disciplined family and neighborhood. This indicates that parental attachment is great. The two youth were considered good in academics and so,

the commitment to education and involvement were there. Further investigation revealed that the two shared the same interest and that is related to bombs and guns (“Application of Hirschi’s Theory to School Violence”, 4th par. ). They were also known to be the subject of bullying from fellow classmates for months already and the school has done nothing to stop the bullying (“Application of Hirschi’s Theory to School Violence”, 2nd par. ). The belief of the youth that the school can do something to protect them and stop the bullying was the factor that got loose among the four elements of Hirchi’s

social control theory. They lost hope that the school can do something to relieve them of the psychological pain of being bullied. The reason for the shooting is to exact revenge to everybody for the wrong doing of the student society of the school (5th par. ). As to the plan of the school to prevent the occurrence of the same delinquent offenses, a zero tolerance to students planning delinquent act was implemented through the help of the police authorities (“Creation, Adoption, and Implementation of Threat Assessment Policies”, 1st par. )

They did not consider the fact that the high school environment being composed of restless youth population is prone to acts of bullying by peers. In addressing the problem and as a result of analysis of the shooting in relation to Hirchi’s Social Control Theory, the following will be the program to address the youthful crime: 1. Ensure that the students have close attachment to their parents/guardians to ensure discipline. 2. All students must have genuine commitment to achieve education through the school system and facilities. This is to ensure good academic achievements.

Those with less academic achievements should be subject to extra observation on and off campus. 3. All students should be involved in the promotion and implementation of the school programs 4 geared to give protection and benefits to the students. This is to give them a sense of belongingness with the school. 4. The school administration should always be on the guard for student population activities geared to humiliate fellow students in the likes of bullying. This is to strengthen the belief among students that the school is always more than willing to do activities for their welfare.

The overall objective of the plan is to ensure that the four elements namely attachment, commitment, involvement and belief are closely knitted with each other among the student populace to preempt delinquency offenses. Social Learning Theory It is hypothesized that a child learned from social association the standard by which an act is accepted by society or not. Author J. David Hawkins stated that the pattern of behavior is learned by the child through his socialization with the family, school mate, church and peers (156). Sutherland, a

criminologist, expanded this by his theory of differential association. According to the author, the vehicle of learning is through communication within an intimate group. The learning is dependent on frequency, duration, priority and intensity of social interaction (Burfeind and Bartusch 427). Thus if a child from his younger years is continuously within the company of a delinquent group, he or she imbibed their philosophy due to duration as well as intensity of association. Sutherland further revealed that the influence of family can be completely set aside in favor of the delinquent peer group.

This is the reason that this theory is sometimes called the cultural deviance theory as the accepted norm is always the “ definition favorable to violations of the law” (427, 5th par, 2nd line) and is always contrary to accepted standard of the majority society. As a method of praising the accomplishment, the delinquent child through social learning feel honored and safe doing juvenile delinquent acts as he or she is treated as hero and courageous by his peers (Articlebase. com, 3rd par. ) To elucidate further the application of the Social Learning Theory, the study related to how the youth

perceive gun violence by Goldberg and Schwabe will be analyzed. The study involved interviewing 36 youthful inmates of Los Angeles Juvenile Hall in their perception of benefit and risks of carrying and using firearms. All the youths interviewed had committed delinquent acts, four had committed murder, 5 all of them were members of street gang and 24 % intended to remain involved in the gang. The rest intended to pursue their studies and get their high school diploma by age 20. Majority of them indicated that they have a choice to carry or not carry a gun and know the repercussions of carrying and using it.

They admitted they have a choice [to carry or not carry it] but prefer carrying it as they believe it is their protection for they sensed that they will be gunned down by rival gangs within the year or maybe next and the police cannot protect them but instead throw them in jail. They believe that they will be inside Juvenile Hall for two years at the most and be out when they reach 18 to continue their studies (Goldberg and Schwabe 1). It is obvious that they got their perceptions on risks and benefits of carrying and using firearms through social learning and associations as embodied in the Social Learning Theory.

In order to address the youthful crime due to this theory, the following are needed (Goldberg and Schwabe 38): 1. Reorient their perception on the benefit and risks of using firearms by getting the help of concerned government agencies. 2. Re-orient the norm about gun violence through print media and television. 3. Shooters believe that they can still get their diploma by age 20. Capitalize on this by providing them scholarships, resources and membership in other youth organizations. Summary and Conclusion Based from the two theories discussed, the socialization process from childhood to juvenile age

should be given due importance and observation. This is the age when the values learned from home as guided by the parents, kin or guardians are being re-enforced. The power of the environment or society where the juvenile is exposed can be observed in the fact that all the values learned from home can be masked through the influence of peers unless timely intervention is done. The juvenile age as proven from the sources consulted is the time of perception re-enforcement which will shape the individual and determine his actions in conformity with society’s standard in the later stages of one’s life.

Intervention at this stage is essential to ensure proper development of values and thus pre-empt the juvenile offenses which normally are against the standard set by law and majority of the society. 6 Works Cited “Juvenile Crime”. Funk & Wagnalls® New Encyclopedia. 2006. 18 April 2009 <http://www. history. com/encyclopedia. do? articleId=213484 Burfeind, J. W. and Bartusch, D. J. Juvenile delinquency: an integrated approach. Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2005 Pittaro, M. L. “School Violence and Social Control Theory: An Evaluation of the Columbine Massacre.

” International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences 2 . 1 (2007):1-12. Hawkins, J. D. Delinquency and crime: current theories. London: Cambridge University Press, 1996 Goldberg, J. H. and Schwabe. “How Youthful Offenders Perceive Gun Violence” RAND Violence Prevention Policy Center. Research Report Supported by the National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice under Grant 98-IJ-CX-0043. Copyright by RAND 1999. Articlesbase. com. “Juvenile Delinquency Theories” Home Page Law. 27 October 2006. 18 April 2009 http://www. articlesbase. com/law-articles/juvenile-delinquency-theories-67589. html