This post will look at physical and mental reasons for delinquent behavior. The ideas presented here can be useful for teachers who also deal with youths who participate in delinquent behavior.
The biosocial theory of crime is in many ways a spin on the nature vs nurture debate. Supporters of biosocial theory believe that a combination of personality (nature) and environment (nurture) influence delinquent behavior. Such a premise seems reasonable as people have natural talent but they also develop skills and traits based on the environment in which they grow up as a child and beyond. Teachers are aware of this because of the classroom environment that they establish as they train children.
Concerning nurture, genetics have been studied to understand delinquent behavior. Researchers have found strong relationships between parents and children, twins, and siblings in terms of associating with delinquent behaviors. In other words, crime often runs in the family. Of course, there are many instances of people choosing to take their life in a different direction from the example that was set by relatives. Again, many teachers have seen good kids come from bad families and vice versa. Often it seems there is no way to know how a child will turn out when you meet them.
Several factors are related to biosocial theory in terms of the nurture aspects. For example, there have been biochemical arguments made that state that chemical imbalances brought on by a poor diet can contribute to delinquent behavior. These imbalances can cause hormonal issues as well and this can be critically important due to the natural hormonal changes of teenagers. However, it must be mentioned that many people suffer from biochemical imbalances and never commit crimes. Therefore, there must be something else going on to attribute delinquent behavior to.
Many of the ideas related to diet are also related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If students are not getting enough to eat then studying is almost impossible. The need to provide for these biochemical concerns is perhaps one reason for the school meal programs that are ubiquitous today.
One other theory of delinquent behavior is arousal theory. This theory essentially states that some youth commit crimes for thrill-seeking reasons. In other words, they commit crimes for fun. Teenagers often are seeking new experiences as they push the boundaries of what they’re capable of. In addition, this would also help to explain why kids in stable, comfortable homes act out and make poor choices. Most young people want to have fun and the thrill of crime is one avenue for them to achieve this.
Another theory is tied to evolution. The evolutionary theory of delinquency states that impulsive men are often more successful in reproducing with multiple women due in part to their impulsive and often aggressive behavior. As such, these traits of aggression and unpredictability are passed on to the next generation and this process is repeated. Over time, this leads to a population becoming more and more willing to committ acts of violence and crime
The evolutionary theory is interesting but seems difficult to prove conclusively as there may be no known way to test this experimentally. In many ways, this is another variation of focusing on nature as the cause of delinquent behavior
The takeaway for teachers is that there are multiple reasons why a youth may become a delinquent. In addition, given the multitude of explanations, it appears that there is not a great deal of agreement on what motivates youth to participate in delinquent acts.