Criminal Psychology Synthesis Essay

Subject: Law
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 717
Topics: Criminology, Social Psychology

Demographics and risk factors involved in becoming a criminal and/or a victim

Characteristics about a set of people, (demographics) can be used to predict patterns of crime in society. As Miller (2012) states, demographics such as social class, gender as well as age help in explaining who and why certain people commit a crime. Psychologists argue that there is a link between crime and social class. Data indicates a high rate of crime in areas situated in low-class inner city regions. Under the broken window theory, criminal activities are high in deteriorated neighborhoods. Richard could have been from areas where neighbors appear vulnerable to criminal offenders, hence attracting his criminal behavior.

Age is another factor that is related to crime. According to the 2015 statistics of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, people between 16 and 25 years have a notably high rate of arrest due to criminal activities. This is the group that engages in active crime like arson, rape, murder, theft and burglary. Richard could have been in this age bracket since it is indicated that he started engaging in criminal activities from the age of 11. Psychology of gender indicates that crime rates for women are consistently lower than men. This could be due to the variations in hormones where men have more aggressive and active hormones. Other risk factors that trigger criminal activities include poor parenting, and peer pressure (Miller, 2012).

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There are factors that contribute to a person becoming a victim. Economic status is among these factors. Crimes tend to flourish in communities that are poor, and it is excessively present in inferior socioeconomic areas of societies.  This is because; people in those areas have no instruments of guardianships like police response and alarm systems. Another factor is social activities. Activities that one engages in may increase the chances of becoming a victim of crime. For example, people who drink till late at night can be easily targeted by criminals. Physical capabilities also contribute to victimization, because people with disabilities are unable to physically defend themselves or remove themselves from a criminal situation (Carpentier, Leclerc, & Proulx, 2011). In addition, individuals who are discriminated against in society are seen as an easy target for crime.

How are the demographics or risk factors for becoming a criminal and victim related? How are they different? How would the demographics or risk factors vary in another country?

For both victim and the offender, age is a major predictor. Danger of being a criminal and a victim is higher for the individual below the age of 25 years. For both categories, social, economic status plays a major role. People who are whose economic situation is low are more vulnerable to criminal activities. Similarly, criminal activities are high in this category.

The difference between these factors is that, unlike victimization, crime does not occur randomly. Instead, it is a function of the victim’s lifestyle. Individuals belonging to groups that have an excessively risky life- drug use, runaways, homeless- are more vulnerable to victimization. The more one is exposed to street life, the higher the risks of becoming a victim of crime.

Demographic and risk factors contributing to crime and victimization vary from one country to another. For example, in the United States, African Americans are likely to commit crimes or be victims of the offences compared to their white counterparts.  This is because of inequalities in income. Racial and minority categories are often forced to reside in areas beset by drug abuse, racial discrimination, alcohol, poverty and violence. This makes them the most at-risk population (Carpentier, Leclerc & Proulx, 2011).  Similarly, criminal activities are high in undeveloped countries due to low judicial systems and low-quality police and with the poorly educated population.

If an individual reflects the data supporting the likelihood of becoming a criminal or victim, does that guarantee the outcome?

According to Miller (2012), a risk factor in criminality is factors in a person’s psychology that are likely to increase the chances that the individual will get involved in crime. However, a person’s criminal behavior is assessed by charges and arrest, actual crime rates and self-reported offences. This implies that, it does not necessarily mean that someone is a criminal because they portray risk factors unless they are reported to have been engaging in illegal activities.

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  1. Carpentier, J., Leclerc, B., & Proulx, J. (2011). Juvenile sexual offenders: Correlates of onset, variety, and desistance of criminal behavior. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38(8), 854–873
  2. Miller, L. (2012). Criminal psychology: Nature, nurture, culture. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.  
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