Learning theories give a description on how a person absorbs information, processes it, and retains it for future use. During the learning process, many things such as the environment, cognitive ability, emotions and experience help in the understanding of worldviews, and retaining of knowledge and skills. When looking at this theory in relation to how individuals get to acquire criminal behaviors, one is prompted to conduct an inquiry into the concerns of the Control Theory and the Social Learning Theory. The two emergent theories serve to explain in detail how one acquires criminal behaviors through learning (Reckless 12). The person adopting the Control Theory model will tend to behave antisocially unless they learn not to. People have a tendency to develop refrains from deviant behavior because of having diverse factors controlling their impulses for breaking the social norms. This means that in the learning of criminal activities, one has to learn antisocial behaviors that will prompt him into starting criminal activities. Away from the Control Theory, according to the Social Learning Theory, people learn things through observation of the behaviors of other people, their attitudes, and outcomes of the behaviors (Bandura 48). In this case, it is possible for one to learn criminal behaviors by just observing what criminals do on a daily basis. This means that one has to be close to the criminals to ensure that there is constant observation of how the criminal person acts and behaves. When one sees he believes, and through seeing, one potentially learns a behavior pattern. A constant association with a behavior makes one to retain the information, which can induce that person to adopt such a behavior. When one acquires the craft, for instance street children, they end upengaging in criminal activities such as drugs trafficking and theft (Sutherland, Cressey and Luckenbill 68).
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I understand the fact that when a child is born, that child is innocent. However, that child cannot and will never remain innocent the whole of his life. In the process of growth and development, there is a tendency of that child to learning many things in life, for the sake of survival. Many influences come the child’s way enhancing proper learning of those things. Right from the beginning, it is possible for the child to assume antisocial behaviors. I understand that at this point the environment greatly influences how active one will become towards other people in life.
I strongly believe that when child continues to grow, there is immense exposure that will make him associate with many things in life. If that child is brought up in a bad environment with high rate of criminal activities, the likelihood of adopting the same criminal activities is quite high. My view is that the social learning theory sets in to explain how the child can acquire criminal activities through observation. As the child continues to observe how criminals behave, especially when it is difficult for the law to catch up with them because of their tactics or connection, there will be a tendency to believe that it is best thing to do in the world. I tend to agree with the fact that consequently, the differential association of the criminal activities by the same child will better reinforce the learning of the criminal behavior. After learning, what remains are that the information will be retained in the mind, only waiting for a push factor for the child to exhibit the learned behavior.
In my opinion, the two theories, the two theories can influence a person’s decision to enter into criminal activities. The Control Theory does not sufficiently explain how one can adopt the criminal behaviors. I believe that the Social Learning Theory best explains how one can acquire the criminal behaviors gradually through observation. This is more realistic as opposed to the control theory that involves refrains, which in the end may not suffice. The theory sufficiently brings to light how one can adopt the criminal behaviors.
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