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Socialization and Criminal Behavior

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Socialization has been billed to be the chief determinant of criminal behavior. Joe Hunt was a serial killer. His biography suggests that he was one of the brightest kids during his time of schooling. According to his teacher, Joe was the brightest student she had ever met and portrayed a lot of maturity and natural calmness in everything he did. Had she known her student well, probably the description would have changed as it turned out that Joe was a psychopath (Ramsland, n.d). The second son to Kathy & Larry Gamsky, Joe had expressed a lot of seclusion in his early life and was always a misfit in any group. However, these traits were overshadowed by his strong academic ability and sharp and quick way of thinking. He is described as one who would always have his ways in a group and achieve whatever he wanted through thick and thin. More sadly, his parents never noticed his son’s behavior earlier enough and instead took his as a genius, just like other people knew him.

According to Dr. Robert Hare, a Canadian researcher, psychopaths normally have specifically obvious traits that they display during their growth and development. Some of these behaviors are like they get less attached to other people; their decision-making processes are impulsive or abrupt and are remorseless even after offending another person (Ramsland, n.d). They also like rationalizing everything they do and shift blame to other people, and manipulate others a lot in many instances.

To many criminologists, these traits portrayed by Joe are linked to his socialization and are the chief determinants of his criminal behaviors. Pallone & Hennessy (1992) explains, “It is socialization, not social structure, which determines life chances” (231). The more social problem encountered during the socialization process, the greater the likelihood that youths will encounter difficulties as well as barriers as they mature, such as becoming a crime to fill the insufficiency. Joe was an academic genius as far as record suggests. He was also gifted and could not find anybody fitting into his life, hence the seclusion as he grows. His joining of a criminal gang group and fraudulent investment club was driven by the opportunity to enrich himself at all costs. It must be noted that he saw nothing more in these groups rather than money-making opportunities.  

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Theories that determine how individual’s socialization influences their likelihood of becoming criminals can apply in Joe’s case. This approach is described as social process of human behavior. This approach has various independent branches as described in Siegel (2008). However, the most relevant branch that would describe Joe is the social control theory. In this theory, it is stated that everyone has the ability to become a criminal. What controls this potentiality is the fact that most people are guided by the societal bond. It therefore follows that one develops the crime mind when the forces that bind people to the societal ideals are weakened or even broken.  In short, social control theory would allude to the fact that people are born bad and must be controlled in order to become good members of the society (Burgess & Akers, 1999). Notably, Joe’s father did not realize his son’s weaknesses and instead concentrated in his positive academic performances. Joe’s inability to cope with his peers was to do with his socialization problem.

The responsibility to control Joe’s behavior was supposed to be part of the society. In this case society is comprised of the family members, peers, neighbors, and teachers. Unfortunately, if these people have not noticed anything wrong with the child or youth in question, it becomes a problem as the child would be assumed to be good and treated with utmost care despite his or her weird behavior (Burgess & Akers, 1999). Joe could have been helped by the parents who seemed to adore him so much. This level of adoration is what perpetuated the complex issue of his high ego, always seeing himself as special among other peers. 

Socials forces determine a lot a person’s entry into criminal activities. Considering Joe’s background as one from a humble family, Joe saw others students as better off than he is hence the desire to prove himself in other areas such crime and intimidation. His parents, neighbors, teachers, and peers, however, did not notice these behaviors and only emphasized on his academic ability and other few positive traits.

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