How People become Criminals

Allen Teal's image for:
"How People become Criminals"
Image by: 

A criminal is born when a person makes the choice to step across the boundary that separates the legal from the illegal. What caused this to happen is the result of the direct and indirect moral training that was received. Once in a while, a morally sound individual will be pushed beyond the limits of self-control and commit an illegal act, but this is the rare exception.

Most people with strong morals will choose to do right no matter how bad the circumstances. However, to really be called a criminal, crime has to become a way of life. It becomes the how the person thinks and acts. To arrive at this point requires more than a solitary lapse in moral judgement.

A good moral person can sometimes turn a young life in a positive direction.

Although some people who are raised in conditions that enhance the likelihood of criminal activities, it does not always follow that the person will choose the pathway of crime. There are times when other positive influences can mitigate the poor training of childhood and adolescence. It might be a teacher, minister, or someone else who steps into that role of changes the direction of a young life.

Early training will corrupt young minds.

Frequently, one brief encounter with a positive moral influence is not enough to offset the years of poor training and negative signals. The budding criminal has low self-esteem and believes that the world somehow deserves to have its pockets picked. Stealing may seem to be the easier route to substantial income. Dealing drugs, extortion, and other illegal activities are often the best employment opportunities available in the criminals neighborhood and family.

Small transgressions send the message that crime pays.

Even if the criminal's family were not a part of organized crime, the signals that they send make crime seem like it is condoned within their circle. It may play out like this: The young child regularly sees the parents keep items that were not paid for or that should have cost more, but the clerk made a mistake. If they get an extra twenty back from the bank, it is considered a gift. These parents may regularly borrow from friends and neighbors but never repay.

The list of minor offenses goes on. The child sees a joint smoked here and there without penalty. Family members use bullying and other strong methods to get their way in the neighborhood. Perhaps women are demeaned and treated like property while being improperly touched and fondled. All of these activities send significant messages to young impressionable minds.

Immoral and illegal training teaches youth that if you want something, you should just take it.

The morals developed out of such training can only be weak at best. The message can only be understood to mean that if you want something in life, you should just take it. This is true whether it is money, power, a woman's body, or the life of another person. When this young person gets caught committing early crimes, the family gives sympathy and not judgement. The idea is that it is too bad that you got caught. Try not to let them catch you next time. There will almost always be a next time. Probably, there will be many next times until prison becomes the person's permanent home.

More about this author: Allen Teal

From Around the Web