The act of being labeled as delinquent, deviant, and/or criminal would place an even greater burden on an individual and make it difficult to reform or even recover from the life of crime. The outcome of an individual’s life after committing a crime, or engaging in delinquent or deviant behavior is determined not so much by the individual or the nature of offense committed, but rather by the reaction of the others towards the individual (Braithwaite, 1988). Labelling causes the victim of crime, delinquency or deviancy labelling suffer greatly from within as the guilt and shame eats up the individual, while at the same time causing he individual being forced to carry blame of crimes and other social deviations the individual is not really responsible for (Minor, 2015).
Once labelled a delinquent, criminal or deviant, the individual carries the burden of proving to the society that he or she has reformed. On the event that the society does not seem to be convinced by the individuals attempt to prove reformation, the individual might in fact be pushed towards continuing with the life of crime as a way of fitting with the label already conferred by the society (Minor, 2015). Labelling also causes the victim to shut down from the rest of the society and opt to tread on the path of a loner, since the rest of the society is perceived as judgmental and often discriminatory.
Therefore, labelling is likely to affect the individual’s daily life through causing stigma and shame, which may in turn trigger a change of the individual’s identity towards fulfilling the label conferred by the society (Braithwaite, 1988). Shedding the crime, delinquent or deviant label would therefore require that an individual reject the rejecters, thus allowing the labelled individual to carry on with life with little regard for what the rejecters say or think (Braithwaite, 1988).
- Braithwaite, J. (1988). Crime, shame and reintegration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Minor, T. (April 28, 2015). Former gang leader wants violence to stop. News4jax.com. retrieved from: https://www.news4jax.com/news/crime/former-gang-leader-wants-violence-to-stop