Crime prevention



In an attempt to evaluate criminal acts, this paper addresses a news article on the Times live. The article addresses suspension/expulsion of a student with a claim of bullying a grade 7 student. Two theories have been used in the paper to evaluate bullying: strain theory and social learning theory. Though these theories differ slightly in various ways, they both seek to prevent acts of bullying in future. The paper addresses three sections based on the two approaches: etiology, prediction, and prevention, as well as recommended criminal justice responses. A conclusion is also offered to give direction in future regarding crime prevention.

Crime prevention

In an article by Nomahlubi Jordaan (2017), an alleged bully might be removed from his school for further counseling. This happens following him being implicated in a Grade 7 student death. However, two theories can be employed in evaluating the crime (bullying) to offer a better understanding and to prevent future occurrence of the same scenario. In this case, the strain theory and the social learning theories are the most suitable approach for addressing this criminal act.

Originally, the strain theory suggested that an inspiration increase and expectations decrease leads to a delinquency increase (Yıldız & Solakoglu, 2017). However, Robert Agnew expanded the strain theory scope to incorporate other variables addressing the original strain theory criticisms. In that, he tried exploring this approach from a perspective accounting for goals as well as money (Bankston, 2000). The strain theory considered the position of an individual in social class, relationship with other criminals and the future expectations. In other words, this approach since mistreating people results in them getting upset or engaging in criminal activities such as bullying (Bankston, 2000). In this manner, the theory presents the strategies of determining strain, the various strain types, the relationship between crime and strain, as well as the recommendations basing on this approach. Pursuing this further, Agnew presented two ways to identify and measure strain in the life of a person. The first way refers to the subjective approach, in which, the researcher asks the person whether he/she dislikes the way he/she is being treated. The objective view is the second way, where the researcher asks a person regarding pre-identified strain causes. The strain causes are elements identified by the researcher as treatment disliked by a group member being investigated. Often the objective approach is employed involving associations with the community, friends, and family (Yıldız & Solakoglu, 2017). In addition to this, the strain theory considers that people have different reactions to specific strain types. In that, people subjectively view various kinds regarding physical strain. On the same note, different processes should be applied for determining an effective strain measure. Firstly, the research should create a detailed list of adverse situations that can lead to strain considering that people experience strain differently from other people. Additionally, situations should be objectively determined as well as variables determining the reaction of the individual to strain.

Social learning theory is an approach that tries to address socialization as well as its impact on a person’s self-development (Burford, 2012). In this case, various theories are explaining how individuals become socialized that include conflict theory, psychoanalytic theory, symbolic interaction theory, and functionalism. Similar to these theories, the theory related to social learning focuses on the individual process of learning, the development of self, as well as the society’s impact on socializing people (Teater, 2011). In other words, the social learning approach addresses the development of the identity of a person as a learned social stimuli response (Clark, 2013). The theory stresses the societal socialization context instead of the individual thought. The social learning theory lays its argument of the fact that the identity of an individual does not result from the unconscious, like the psychoanalytic theorist’s belief. Rather than that, it suggests that the identity of a person is the product of designing oneself responding to the anticipation of other people. In that, attitudes and behaviors arise responding to the encouragement and reinforcement from the individuals around them (Clark, 2013). Although this approach acknowledges that childhood encounter is significant, it as well assumes that the people’s acquired identity is designed through the attitudes and behaviors of others. In other words, this theory is based in psychology and was modeled by Albert Bandura for understanding deviance and criminal acts (Burford, 2012).


The strain theory presents three causes of crime. The first cause could be a failure of achieving positively valued stimuli (Hanitzsch, 2015). The strain could result from different goals. Firstly, money can lead to strain if the individual cannot get it through legitimate ways, especially if the delinquent wishes to get huge amounts of cash. Secondly, the strain could be as a result of respect and status as a valued goal. In this case, as a person attempts to prove his/her masculinity, he might engage in criminal activities for achieving this respect. The final kind of goal is autonomy. Autonomy-induced strain primarily influences the lower class and adolescents due to their rank in the community. The strain theory indicates that the necessity for autonomy might lead to crime and delinquency because the person attempted asserting autonomy, achieving autonomy as well as relieving pressure on the individuals denying this individual autonomy (Hashiguchi & Yamakawa, 2013).

Strain might as well result from losing positively valued stimuli (McCluskey, 2003). Research suggests that the loss of positive stimuli might lead to strain. In this note, the loss might use different forms for manifesting itself such as a broken relationship or a death of a romantic partner or friend, or it might be due to the loss of ones treasured object. Furthermore, this strain could lead the person into criminal activities as the person tries evading its loss, retrieving the lost object, or seeking revenge upon the individuals removing the positive stimuli. The final cause of strain is negative stimuli presentation (Hashiguchi & Yamakawa, 2013). Another study focused on pain- avoidance in adolescent behavior and the juveniles’ inability of legally avoiding noxious stimuli. Some instances of adverse stimuli a person could encounter are neglect, child abuse, homelessness, negative school encounters, neighborhood problems, adverse peer relations, as well as negative associations with teachers and parents.

This theory has it that a person commits a crime as a result of his/her relationships with other people engaging in crime (Zewde, 2010). On the same note, an individual’s criminal conduct is reinforced, and the person acquires beliefs favoring he crime. Due to this, such people view unlawful practices as something justifiable or desirable situations. Acquiring deviant or criminal behavior resembles learning for engaging in conforming conduct and which is attained through exposure to or relation with others. Furthermore, relation with criminal peers can predict delinquent behavior apart from past delinquency (Zewde, 2010). This theory presents three ways of people learning to commit a crime. Differential crime reinforcement is the first mechanism of people learning criminal behavior. This mechanism implies that people might teach other people on engaging in crime through punishing and reinforcing specific behaviors. Thus, crime often occurs when it is infrequently punished and frequently reinforced, leads to little punishment and large reinforcement amounts, as well as it has higher chances of being reinforced than other behaviors (Heafner, 2017). Additionally, one might learn a criminal act if his/her beliefs favor the crime. Apart from criminal behavior reinforcement, other people can as well teach an individual the beliefs favoring the crime. Interviews and surveys with criminals’ state that beliefs that are favorable to crime are categorized into three groups (Heafner, 2017). Firstly, is the acceptance of minor crime forms like soft drug and substance abuse, gambling, curfew violation as well as alcohol use. The other group is the justification of or approval of specific types of crime that incorporates different serious crimes. Such individuals assume that criminal acts are wrong, though some crimes are desirable and justifiable in specific situations. Thirdly, some individuals have certain values are conducive to criminal practices and make such activities attractive. Finally, people might learn to commit crimes by imitating their criminal role models. In this case, behavior results from punishments or reinforcements and beliefs that people receive. One’s behavior could also arise from the people surrounding him/her (Teater, 2011).

Prediction and prevention

Strain resulting from external environment might bring about conflicting feelings in a person that include fear, defeat, and despair, though anger is an often feeling relating to crime. The strain theory asserts that people get angry with them blaming the negative relationships and circumstances on other people (Hanitzsch, 2015). Another study concluded that anger incites an individual to lower inhibitions, action as well as develop a revenge desire (Walasek & Jedynak, 2013). Following this further, frustration and anger particularly stressed that people who are victims of repetitive strain have higher chances of engaging in delinquent acts or crime. This is as a result of other strategies of coping with strain are taxed, the negative relations threshold is fixed to its limit, the person might become aggressive and hostile, and the person, in negative arousal might be high. In other words, this theory suggested that a strain increase resulted in an anger increase, which might then result in a crime increase (Williams & McShane, 2010).

People should not always employ crime for responding to crime. In this case, the strain theory outlines three strategies enabling the person to manage the strain in his/her life using legitimate ways. In that, behavioral, cognitive and emotional coping strategies can be employed for reducing the strain amount in a person’s life (Bucher, 2011). Cognitive prevention techniques allow for rationalizing of the stressors by the individual in a different manner, and which takes three forms. The first form involves minimizing the relevance of a strain that causes circumstance or event. This might result in the person placing less significance on a certain goal as a way of escaping that strain he/she experiences for failing to achieve the goal. Another form includes the individual increasing the positive while reducing the adverse results related to a situation. The third form of the similar point is applied to the person when he/she accepts the negative outcomes responsibility.

The social learning theory can be used to predict and prevent criminal acts because it includes the learning process to model or copy the actions of others by observing another person engaging in it (Dinkelman, 2001).  In this approach, a student might not learn if he/she does not observe what takes place around him/her. Following this further, the process focuses on the model’s characteristics like the observer’s anticipations or emotional arousal level. Hence, the model’s characteristics greatly affect attention (Dinkelman, 2001). The capacity of storing information also plays a key role in the process of learning (Tri Harinie, 2017). Nevertheless, several factors can affect retention, though the ability to pull up information in future and practice on it has a major responsibility in social learning theory. Students retain this learning in the form of an abstract representation. Instead of the memory becoming the actual reflection of the past, it is the reconstruction. Upon remembering the images, one can bring them up for use in actual time. This results in other or similar memories are coming up also. On this note, such images are sounds, pictures, stories, emotional memories as well as words related to that retrieved memory (Akers, 2017).

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After paying attention to a model and comprehended his information, people often proceed to performing the observed conduct. In fact, practicing the acquired behavior results in skill advancement and improvement (Mercer & Howe, 2012). Changing a conception to an appropriate action needs transformational skills development in intermodal behavior guidance. The symbolic mode information calls for translating into corresponding modes of action. This entails learning the manner of organizing sequences of action, monitoring and comparing enactments of behavior against a symbolic model and correcting evident differences (Mercer & Howe, 2012).

Recommended criminal justice responses

The strain theory can be employed in various aspects of crime. Among these applications stresses on programs preventing crime focusing on the strain theory roots: negative treatment by other peers. Programs that are based on family should be designed for teaching individuals on ways of solving challenges in a legitimate way and guardians are educated on effective ways of disciplining their children. Through this way, the negative emotions amount can be reduced that arise from family conflict, through reducing the strain amount in the family (Walasek & Jedynak, 2013). Additionally, school-based teams should be developed for improving associations between and in school. Like emphasizing on relationships, school-based programs as well help in improving the performance of students, which could be a key strain source for the youths. A peer-based program also plays a critical role in reducing the strain amount that a student experiences due to a relationship with other students (Williams & McShane, 2010). Associations with peers might have negative impacts when peers are criminals or when friends are verbally or physically abusive to others. This program should be developed in a school environment, where they have the greatest influence on the highest number of peers. Considering it might be unrealistic thinking that strain can be fully eliminated through preventing individuals from treating each other wrongly, policies should guide peers on managing strain. On the other hand, increased social guidance helps the students to deal with certain challenges. Cognitive, behavioral and emotional support can be offered through such systems of support. The objective of such programs focuses on offering the student with a person committed to helping the student in the challenge and who should teach him/her the different ways to cope on his/her own.

The social learning approach offers the basis for several prevention programs. Upon an assumption being made that criminal behavior can be changed by the process of social learning, then altering and controlling the environment or the process allowing for the occurrence of social learning might minimize victimization and crime (Mortensen & Cialdini, 2010). On the same note, delinquent students can be allowed to engage in regular outside practices, work as well as school. The learners can be subjected to sessions of guided group interaction where instructors guide the peers in addressing common challenges and developing an ideal environment that encourages pro-social behaviors and attitudes. In addition to this, semi-residential programs can be implemented for placing criminals in groups for offering them roles like creating groups, orienting other learners, designing rules, identifying different punishments for breaking the rules, as well as formulating opinions of when a student might be released (Mortensen & Cialdini, 2010).

A guiding family approach can also be implemented to minimize criminal acts among students. The approach should include a couple and about seven delinquents’ students living close to each other in family settings (Huang, 2016). This allows for the criminals to lose or earn reward points accorded for various behaviors. In this case, getting exposed to pro-social peers and parents encourages conforming conduct. On a similar note, transition programs for adolescents can be used for targeting management skills of a family in parent-peer interactions. Parental sessions having therapists can be used for building disciplinary practices and effective socialization. The groups can also be aimed at improving peer association, communication, attitudes as well as self-control.


Not only has the strain theory arose on the criminology scene but also introduced a different interest regarding the influence of strain regarding crime (Bucher, 2011). Considering it is a new approach that has a very wide scope, there is very little data refuting it. As a result of the fact that the strain theory is broad, testing it at once is not possible. Thus, it should be divided into the component sections. Agnew also suggested that the approach is not a comprehensively designed alternative to different theories because it might not broaden into the social world as well as it does not consider factors like strain resulting from non-social ways. In this case, the strain theory lays the foundation for building on other aspects. In addition to this, more study is required in nearly all sectors, though precise objectives can be designed. In the manner to explain group variations in criminal practices, it is essential to identify what strain types and how much strain is encountered as well as why and how peers manage strain in different ways. Therefore, opportunity structures and their influence on the person should be determined. According to research, a problem for researchers refers to determining which kinds of strain result in crime and the reason for the existence. By doing so, consistent support relating to the strain approach can be provided.

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The social learning approach proves itself as a significant theory for preventing criminal acts such as bullying in schools. Having its roots in psychology and sociology, this theory can be employed in different ways for crime prevention (Akers, 2017). It social roots arose from the differential association theory developments by Sutherland. Pursuing this further, Akers and Burgess later developed the approach to incorporate reinforcement (Tu, 2000). Akers further improved the theory by adding imitation and social structure roles making it a social learning approach. Considering the final social learning theory pieces developed, the approach resembled soft behaviorism with every development having effects for prevention (Huang, 2016). Research for preventing crime basing on the theory of social learning presents specific relevance. In that, early research on prevention in criminal activities stressed on peer encouragement and group discussions of pro-social behaviors and attitudes. Furthering on the other research, it is based on issues related to family management helping in better practices of parenting. On the other hand, prevention programs in the social learning theory emphasizing on different risk factors play a critical role in preventing deviance and crime. Conversely, this theory involves various issues that must be addressed. On that note, the imitation role in the text is not reinforced appropriately.

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