Criminals are born not made. Discuss.

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Criminals are born not made. Discuss.

        A criminal is defined as someone who has committed a crime. Psychologists have come up with many theories and reasons about why people commit crimes. The two main explanations lie in genetic and environmental factors, which relates to the nature and nurture debate.

Studies have been carried out to explain criminal behaviour. Some suggest that criminals are born, these are, twin studies (Bartol 1998), Family Studies (Farrington 1991) and a study by Jacobs et al (1965) who compared chromosomes. On the other hand there are also studies that have been conducted to prove that criminals are made by society. Bandura et al, social learning theory accounts for this and also Virkkumen (1986) who looked at biochemistry and Becker 1963 who studied labelling behaviour. These are examples I will use to support both sides of the argument to determine whether criminals are born or made.

        There is information that suggests that there are genetic explanations for crime and that it runs through families of criminals. An ‘MZ apart’ study has been conducted were two monozygotic children have been brought up apart. If both children turn out to be criminals then it supports the genetic explanation. The average concordance rate has been 55%. Mednick (1987) and Bohman (1995) looked at court convictions and criminal records of 14,000 people and their biological and adoptive parents. They found many of the criminals had criminal parents and there was a strong relationship between fathers and sons. Although when social conditions improved there was a decrease in crime. Osborne and West (1979) found that 40% of sons with criminal fathers became criminals compared with 13% of sons with non-criminal fathers. Farrington (1991) found that delinquency is linked with parent criminality, poor child rearing techniques, large families and low income. Jacobs et al suggested men with the XYY syndrome were more aggressive than normal XY men and are over represented in prisons. This showing that they may not be a criminal gene but it is possible that certain genes can influence the brains chemistry, which can account for criminal behaviour. There has also been a link between low blood glucose levels and arson and woman who smoked during pregnancy had sons with conduct orders. All this information provides a good argument to show that criminals are born.

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        Looking at the other side of the argument now, there is enough evidence to support that criminals are made. Some modern research points to a variety of biochemical factors which maybe involved in criminal behaviour such as environmental conditions. Sutherland (1939) believes that criminal behaviour is learned through association with other people, especially close personal groups. The learning includes techniques to carry out certain crimes and attitudes and motives that deal with committing crime. He believes boys are more delinquent than girls because of the way they are brought up, being aggressive and risk seekers. Bandura et al (1963), social ...

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