Home > Subjects > Law/Legal > Social Modeling Theory and Juvenile Crime

Social Modeling Theory and Juvenile Crime


Social modeling theory postulates that aggressive behavior is learned through watching movies, reading books, from friends (Barkan, & James, 2013). It attempts to explain the socialization process and its effect self-development. People develop behaviors and attitude in corroboration with the people around us. Childhood experiences are fundamental in influencing an individual’s behavior. Most people identify their attitude and behavior towards others depending on their experiences during childhood. Social modeling theory has been used to understand crime and possible causes of deviance.

According to social modeling theory, people find themselves in criminal activities because of the persons they keep around them (Sampson & Laub, 2011). The criminal behavior is reinforced because they interact with people who engage in criminal activities. After watching the behavior of others, they are motivated to commit a crime since they believe it is something which is desirable. Learning criminal behavior is achieved through association with others who consider crime as justifiable in certain conditions. In most cases, association with delinquent friends have been used t predict the criminal behavior of a child. Sometimes the movies and books a child relates to determining whether he or she will engage in criminal activities in the future (Barkan, & James, 2013).

According to social modeling theory, people are motivated to engage in crime because they tend to imitate criminal models. The support and punishment that people receive is a product the behavior and attitude that criminals adapt (Sampson & Laub, 2011). Many people often model the behavior of people around them. In most cases, they will imitate the behavior of an individual whom they admire. For instance, a child who watches a movie or witnesses an individual whom they respect committing a crime is likely to commit a crime as a result of reinforcement.

Juvenile crime is a dynamic factor that affects our communities. Social modeling theory assumes that juveniles are motivated to crime by imitating or modeling the behaviors of those who they respect in the society (Barkan, & James, 2013). As such, most of them have developed deviant behaviors which are an important perspective of social modeling theory. It is essential to understand why juveniles commit a crime and the primary cause of the deviant behavior should be identified. In this case, it would be easy to reduce delinquency by imitating the behavior of other individuals. According to the principle of criminology, deviance is considered as the violation of norms and practices that guide morals within the society. It is also considered as developing behaviors which are a characteristic of people who are subject to stigmatization or condemnation in the society. Juvenile crime is an issue that cannot be resolved immediately (Sampson & Laub, 2011). It requires the commitment of various social groups to propose deterrent methodologies that can prevent juveniles from engaging in crime. Recidivism should be encouraged to prevent juveniles from modeling the behaviors of others whom they respect in the society.

Social modeling theory derives from a perspective that criminal behavior is learned through imitation or modeling (Akers, 2011). Environmental reinforcement also influences juvenile crime. Children model the behavior if they have not observed any consequences from those whom they respect. Albert Bandura believes that behavior is learned through interaction. Juvenile crime is propagated if the children are in constant communication with other individuals whom they believe have succeeded in life through crime (Akers, 2011). For instance, children always do admire successful people who have acquired wealth and lead a comfortable life. In the developing countries, most politicians and prominent personalities have acquired wealth illegally. Many of them have not been punished because of their association with those in power or impunity. In this way, children believe it is right to acquire wealth illegally without any further consequences. Many children will develop the act of deviance by imitating deviant behaviors which are mostly negative reinforcements (Barkan, & James, 2013). Deviance is the primary cause of corruption in our societies. For instance, there is an incident that occurred in Placer County in September 2012 where three juveniles and two adults were charged with conspiracy and robbery. According to my understanding, the juveniles too young to involved in such a crime. I believe they were imitating the two adults since they have been surviving through robbery and conspiracy with grave consequences.

Modeling system influences juveniles to commit a crime (Akers, 2011). In most cases, they are influenced by the social criteria of delinquency and the society. Many juveniles learn criminal behavior because of the people whom they interact with. In addition, the books, movies, friends and family members influence children to develop criminal behavior and deviance. Majority of the juveniles come from broken homes and neighborhoods which are characterized by criminal activities (Barkan, & James, 2013). In most cases, the criminal behavior is reinforced or accepted. Children are likely to imitate criminal behaviors in those communities where crime flourishes. In this case, the juveniles are not subjected to learn the crime but become part of them since the majority of the populations are considered as criminals. Therefore, social modeling theory provides a vivid explanation why juvenile becomes delinquents. They are forced to imitate or model the behaviors of others whom they respect in the society.

See also:

Family Dynamics Affecting Juvenile Delinquency Research Paper

Juvenile Detention Camps

  • Akers, R. L. (2011). Social learning and social structure: A general theory of crime and   deviance. Transaction Publishers. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zjBDZ-T0WMgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=Akers,+R.+L.+(2011).+Social+learning+and+social+structure:+A+general+theory+of+crime+and+%09deviance.+Transaction+Publishers.&ots=GgRBxO8czK&sig=8cx_QJ2gCqx4yf6tRlsKeVhWS08&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Barkan, S. E., & James, F. A. (2013). Myths and Realities of Crime and Justice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=1YNSAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=Barkan,+S.+E.,+%26+James,+F.+A.+(2013).+Myths+and+Realities+of+Crime+and+Justice.+Jones+%26+Bartlett+%09Publishers.+&ots=zNbPrg935m&sig=_BZ1LUsjZNdRJairLYXSBKfW5vI&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  • Sampson, R. J., & Laub, J. H. (2011). Crime and deviance over the life course: The salience of adult social bonds. American sociological review, 609-627. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095859?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Related Posts

Leave a Comment