A more recent version of these Pathways Into And Out Of Crime notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
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Pathways Into and Out of Crime Pathways Into Crime 'Childhood Risk Farrington (2007)????
Individual and family risk factors for offending and anti-social offending. Focuses on UK, US and other Western democracies. All about developmental criminology, which is concerned with the development of offending and anti-social behaviour, risk factors at different ages and effects of life events on course of development. Interesting to look at characteristics of persistent offending, hyperactivity may start at 2, which may develop into shoplifting in early teens, then robbery in late teens and assault, child abuse and alcohol abuse in later life. Study the sequences over time in order to suggest opportunities for early prevention. Offending tends to be part of a syndrome that involves anti-social behaviour from a young age that then develops into persisting in crime at a later age. This leads to a cycle
- antisocial child develops into antisocial teenager who develops into antisocial adult, who produces another antisocial child. Great deal if interest in early prediction of later offending - but typically prospective prediction (deciding which children will become high-risk adults) is poor, but retrospective prediction is better (easier to decide which high-risk adults were also highrisk children), and this inspires the need for protective measures from a young age. Risk factors are considerations which increase the risk of occurrence of offending. The idea of risk-focused prevention is simple. All you have to do is identify the risk factors for offending and implement prevention methods to counteract them. The idea was imported into criminology from medicine by pioneers such as Hawkins and Catalano (1992). Such an approach has been used in tackling diseases for many years for example risk factors for heart disease include smoking, a fatty diet and lack of exercise, and this can be tackled by doing more exercises topping smoking and having less of a low-fat diet. A problem is risk factors is that you have to identify which factors are actually contributing to the cause and which are merely markers.
Individual Risk Factors.
Low intelligence and under achieving?Survey of 120 Stockholm males (Stattin and Klackenberg-Larsson, 1993) found that low intelligence measured at the age of 3 predicted officially recorded offending results at the age of 30. Frequent offenders had an IQ of 8 at the age of 3, and non-offenders had an IQ of 101. Cambridge Study (1992) showed that offenders tended to be truants at school, and left school at the earliest age possible. It is suggested that the link between intelligence and delinquency is the inability to manipulate abstract concepts; if they are poor at this they tend to do badly in intelligence tests at school and then commit offences because they are unable to see the consequences or the effects on the victim. Can stem from the type of background - economically deprived, lower-class families tend to talk in the concrete rather than the abstract and have little regard for the future, talking about the present. Much the same pattern with crime. Some theories however say that school failure actually leads to crime.
Empathy?Widespread belief that that low empathy is an important factor related to offending. Assumption that people who can appreciate victim's feelings are less likely to victimize one. But empirical basis is not very impressive. Inconsistent results, not well validated or widely accepted. There are suggestions that there might be more effective factors. Mak (1991) found that in Australia, delinquent females had lower emotional empathy than non-delinquent females, but no significant difference for males. Although the evidence is generally quite weak, low empathy may be an important risk factor in delinquency.
The most crucial personality dimension that predicts offending. There are a number of different constructs that help to predict offending which include impulsiveness, hyperactivity, restlessness, clumsiness, sensation-seeking... In the Cambridge Study those nominated by teachers and family members as being the most daring or risk-taking tended to become offenders later in life.
Social cognitive skills and cognitive theories?Researchers suggest that offenders use poor thinking techniques in inter-personal situations (Blackburn, 1993). Lack of awareness to other people's thoughts impairs ability to form relationships and appreciate effects of their behaviour on other people. Poor social skills e.g. Lack of eye contact and fidgeting etc. Offenders believe what happens to them as a consequence of their actions depends on luck and chance, they feel like they are controlled by other people's circumstances rather than factors which are within their own control, so they think there is no point in trying to succeed.
Crime runs in families??Criminal parents tend to have delinquent children. In Cambridge Study: 63% children with convicted fathers were themselves convicted. 6% families accounted for half of all convictions. Reasons for these patterns may include intergenerational continuities in exposure to risk factors. May also be down to genetic factors. Most of the 411 sample had criminal families - particularly fathers and brothers.
Large family sizeA strong and reliable predictor of delinquency. (Ellis, 1998) Many possible reasons for this, including the fact that the larger the amount of siblings that you have, the less parental attention you get. Household tends to become overcrowded, leading to irritation and conflict.
Supervision/monitoring of children, warmth/coldness of relationships and parental involvement with children. Poor parental supervision isis usually the strongest and most reliable predictor of offending (Smith and Stern, 1997). Parents who let the children roam the streets tend to have delinquent children. Physical punishment is also a predictor (Newsom et al, 1989 - punishment of 700 Nottingham children, physical punishment between the ages of 7 and 11 predicted later convictions. Also found that low parental involvement in child's activity predicts delinquency.) Most explanations of this are to do with social learning theories, level of attachment to parents.
Child abuse and neglectChildren who are physically abused are more likely to become offenders later in life. It is possible that children adopt the abusive behaviour patterns of their parents, through
imitation, modelling and reinforcement. Generates anger and frustration and creates a desire for revenge/aggression.
Children separated from a biological parent are more likely to offend that children from intact families. Up to the age of 32, boys who experience divorce or separation up to the age of 5 were doubly more likely to offend. (Kolvin et al., 1988) But there is also a study which suggests that it might not be the broken home itself that is criminogenic, but rather the parental conflict itself. For example, McCord's 1982 study in Boston found that where children from broken had affectionate mothers, offending rates were equally as low as where the child was from an unbroken home. Theories behind these findings include the trauma theory which suggests that the loss of a parent has a damaging effect on the child because of attachment to parent. Lifecourse theories suggest that separation is a stressful experience that can induce criminality. So it's not that the research suggests that being broken up makes you innately more criminal, it's the trauma - but also the disruption and conflict. Most risk-factors tend to be interrelated, for example children from socially disorganized backgrounds tend to also come from backgrounds which involve poor parental supervision and low intelligence. So theories can only be speculative. Need to establish which factors predict offending independently of other factors. The key construct in underlying offending is antisocial potential, which is the potential to commit antisocial acts. Farrington's theory is called The Integrated Cognitive Antisocial Potential Theory. Distinction between development of underlying antisocial tendencies (long-term AP) and occurrence of antisocial acts (short-term AP). This theory suggests that the commission of offences depends on the interaction between individual and social environment There are a number of risk-focused prevention plans, targeted at individual and family risk factors.
Skills trainingTeaching young people to stop and think about what they are about to do before acting, thinking about other ways to solve their interpersonal problems, consider impact of behaviour on other people.
Parent educationTackle family risk factors such as poor child-rearing and poor parental supervision
Parent trainingHelping parent to notice what a child is doing, monitoring behaviour over long periods, suggesting making house rules and giving rewards and punishments contingent on behviour, how to handle misbehaviour (very supernanny!!!)
Pre-school programmesDesigned to enhance cognitive abilities, intelligence and attainment. Proven to make an important impact to the lives of the participants.
? More research is needed to find out the causal chains involved with the pathways into crime. Most studies were conducted many years ago when social conditions were very different. New surveys are required to take into account the ethnic diversity of the modern population as well as an effort should be made to investigate the effects of life events on the development of reoffending.
? Main point is that we really need more experiments to evaluate the effectiveness of reduction programmes.
The UK should consider implementing a multi-component risk-focused prevention programme, the focus of which would primarily be to prevent crime. There is currently no national agency whose main mandate is to prevent crime. Could provide assistance to local agencies and monitor the effectiveness of such programmes.
'Crime and the Life Course' Smith (2004)??
Crime is mostly committed by young people, a characteristic of youth. A story of both continuity and change. Likelihood of offending changes with age, reflected in the agecrime curve. Notes that the problem with official records is that they only cover a small number of criminal incidents because only a minority of offences are actually reported to the police in the first place. A further problem is that persistent offenders live unconventional and unstable lives so are unlikely to be included in conventional data collection exercises. For example, more likely to be absent from school when data is collected, or may have no fixed abode. Wolfgang's study of 1972 shows that there is a greater level of versatility over specialization. Those with longer criminal careers end to switch between clusters of types of offences.
The Age-Crime Curve Sharp peak in offending around age of 14 to 18. The rise to the peak starts at the age of criminal responsibility, and the fall begins at around 24. Decline continues into old age. Most studies concur and show the peak to be In the late teens. This is a general trend. Sampson and Laub (1993 have found it to be true even in an area specifically selected for its persistent delinquent activity.
Moffi tt's Theory of Off ender Types (1993, 1997) Two distinct categories of antisocial behaviour and offending - life-course and adolescence limited. Life-course behaviour starts very early and continues throughout the offenders life, but the way in which it is expressed depends on the stage in the life-cycle. Suggested that this is developed by neurodevelopmental and family factors - harmful features in early social environment. Adolescence-limited offending increases rapidly in early adolescence, reaches a peak and then declines rapidly after this. This is considered "normal", demonstrate autonomy and maturity.
The idea that off ending causes more off ending (Matsueda and Heimer, 1997)
A person stigmatized as deviant may either stop, or embrace their new identity and build a new self around this idea. From this point, the offender will learn new offending skills and be able to self-justify their new identity. Make it more and more difficult to return to a life of non-criminality. Learning theory says becoming a criminal is about learning how to commit the crime and learning how not to feel guilty about it.
The Edinburgh Study (Smith, 1994) Confirms that family disruption is a significant influence in offending patterns and criminality. A flaw in this study is that it did not factor in genetics. Also supports the idea of the "victimization loop", that victimization causes offending in some cases, where the offender feels a desire to offend out of revenge and retaliation. Also confirmed that offending careers are strongly linked to drug and alcohol use between the ages of 12 and 15.Concludes that difference in offending rates between males and females cannot be explained by what is currently known. More research is needed to support the conclusion
that there is little difference between offending in males and females when they are lifecourse offenders. Limited understanding of interactions between individual life histories and communities. It is also difficult to assess the effects of CJS on crime rates - bare in mind that many offenders are no actually captured by the system.
'Assessing differences between short-term high-rate offenders and long-term low-rate offenders' Piquero, A. R. Sullivan, C.J. and Farrington, D. P. (2010)???Imprisonment often has preventative aims - e.g. general deterrence, specific deterrence and, to a lesser extent, incapacitation. o Despite preventative aims, approx 2/3 of prisoners will recidivate within 3 years of their release (U.S. Figures, Langan & Levin 2002). There is a similar picture in England & Wales. o The large-scale use of imprisonment means we must consider which offenders are most suitable for incarceration, and which are more suitable for other alternatives. Imagine a judge is faced with two offenders: o The first has had 20 'police contacts' over a ten-year criminal career (a 'long term low rate' [LTLR] offender). o The second has accumulated the same amount, but had them contained over a short period ( a 'short term high rate' [STHR] offender). o Who poses a greater danger society, and who exerts the greater social cost on the system?
The issue facing the judge here is the 'prediction problem', and has an impact on sentencing decisions, particularly in regard to imprisonment. It has been argued that when an individual reaches a high rate of offending, he or she starts to desist - rendering long-term incapacitation a wasteful and costly decision. So should short term or long-term sentences be given? Developmental Life Course (DLC) Criminology can help with this dilemma. DLC takes as its foundation two key facts about crime - the age/crime relationship and the relationship between prior and future criminal activity. Two prominent DLC theories (e.g. Moffit, 1993) argue that the offender population is composed of two distinct groups - the 'life-course-persistent' early start offender, and 'adolescence-limited' late start offender. This study seeks to take a more subtle approach, and see if there is a relationship between volume, in terms of the number of offences committed over time, and duration, which reflects career length.
? The project is 'interested in studying whether offending volume - irrespective of the duration of offending - hides important variation across offenders.'
? Specifically are STHR offenders different from LTLR offenders with respect to risk factors and associated life course outcomes?
o It may be that some offenders who are STHR exhibit certain characteristics and risk factors that are not present in LTLR offenders. o If these factors can be linked to their criminal activity, we can use them to help identify risks and shape policy - i.e. it would inform decisions about the nature and amount of punishment to administer to such offenders.
? In addressing this issue, the study compares STHR and LTLR offenders according to the properties of their 'offending careers' using data from the "Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development" (CSDD). o The data began to be complied in 1953.
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