Deviance is the state of separation from the societal norm, and often takes place in the form of crime. Crime is the ultimate example of deviance, because it is by definition the defiance of the law. Under the umbrella of crime exists juvenile delinquency, which is the violation of a criminal law by someone who is under a certain age, typically 18. However, juvenile delinquents can also be status offenders, which means that they did something forbidden to juveniles, but which is legal for adults to do. While not as serious as a regular crime, status offenders can still get into a lot of trouble depending on the severity of the offense committed. Crime, on the other hand, is against the law no matter what your age is. It can be divided into two distinct categories: violent crime and property crime. Violent crime encompasses any criminal act that causes intentional physical harm to another person, such as murder, rape, or assault. Property crime does not usually involve a physical altercation, and instead refers to actions such as burglary or theft. Any act that tampers with a person’s individual property would fall under the category of property crime. Some crimes, however, can fit into both of the categories, such as robbery.
The term deviance first came into use in 1899, in Cook County Illinois. It was there that the first juvenile delinquency court came into being. From the very beginning, people who were in poverty as well as minorities were subject to greater scrutiny than the wealthy majority. To this day, juvenile delinquency statistics are greatly underestimated and inaccurate. Poorer kids are put through what is known as “the system”, whereas rich kids are sent back to their parents with a mild scolding from the police officer. These impoverished minorities are considered thugs and criminals for committing a status offence, whereas a wealthy child would just be “expressing their independence” or “acting out”. Most juvenile delinquents are aged 15-17 years old, an age group that comprises 70% of that population. 22% of juvenile delinquents are aged 13-14 years old, and the final 8% are aged 11-12 years old. Most of the juvenile delinquents in the country are boys, 78% to be exact, however the number of girls who are juvenile delinquents is steadily increasing. This deviant behavior is most often found in cities, whereas it is rarest in rural areas; suburbs lie somewhere in between the two. Only 3% of all juvenile delinquent crimes are violent crimes, but a whopping 70.6% are property crimes, and the remaining 26.4% is comprised of status offenses.
There are many different opinions as to the cause of juvenile delinquency, and the answer most likely lies within them as a combination of sorts. It’s impossible to pin down the single factor, but many cases of juvenile delinquency are found to have certain factors in common with each other. Aside from racial and socio-economic inequality, an unhappy home life as well as irregular income can contribute to juvenile deviance. A parent who works in the evenings and isn’t around when their children come home from school can have a hard time keeping track of their child’s behavior. If money is an issue, this can cause the child to become truant in order to work and earn more money for the family. Alternatively, a child could start stealing, join a street gang, or even a gambling ring in an effort to make more money to help provide a secure home for their family. There is also a whole slew of factors that may be out of a child’s control that can lead to juvenile deviance. For example, physical factors such as malnutrition, lack of sleep, or drug addiction can be directly correlated to juvenile delinquency. Additionally, mental factors such as disabilities, superior intelligence, or even inferiority complexes can lead to juvenile delinquency.
Among the most severe of all crimes is murder. Often times the murderer is a friend, relative, or acquaintance of the victim, 85% of the time to be exact, and it is considered to be a crime of passion that is strongly driven by emotions. Almost all murders are committed by lower classes, up to as much as 95%. Within this demographic, African Americans are reported to commit 72% of homicides, while only comprising 12% of the population. Murder is also found to be largely intraracial, which means that murderers choose victims who are from the same race as themselves. As far as gender goes, 80% of all murders are committed by men, with 20% being committed by women. Men usually kill men, which follows under a similar guideline to intraracial murder, however women also usually kill men instead of other women. Most murderers have traditionally been aged 26 or older, but in recent years they have started getting younger and younger. This is likely due to high crime rate in inner cities from gangs comprised of everyone from a juvenile age and beyond. Two thirds of all murderers have a previous arrest record, meaning that they are repeat offenders. The rate of murder changes with season, with the height of death being in the late spring and summer, when the most people are out and about. There are less in early spring and fall, but the fewest murders occur in the winter. Weekend evenings are the time when murders are most likely to occur, with Saturday in particular being especially risky. On average, men who commit murder do so equally outside and inside, whereas women who commit murder usually commit it inside, specifically in the kitchen. When women are murdered, however, it most often occurs in the bedroom. Guns are the biggest culprit when it comes to murder, with 66% of all killing involving a firearm.
Earlier I discussed robbery, which is both a violent crime and a property crime. Not only does it involve someone taking another person’s property, it does so in a violent manner, which often results in people getting hurt. There are essentially four stages to robbery; first the individual decides that they need money, and they aren’t averse to commit a crime. Second, they decide what target to rob, whether it be a random bystander on the street or a specific target selected in advance. Then they decide how to rob the target, before performing the robbery itself. Robberies come in five different forms. The first one involves robbing a person in charge of money or goods, whereas the second occurs in public immediately after a sudden attack; this is more along the lines of bank robberies. The third kind occurs on private property, and the fourth involves a brief association between victim and offender, whereas the fifth and final type happens after a long association with the target, such as a co-worker or even a friend. Not all robbers are the same, however, and they essentially boil down into three different types: the professional robber, the opportunist robber, and the addict robber. The professional robber creates a plan for the crime ahead of time, and almost always has accomplices to help take on larger targets. They steal large amounts of money and goods, as opposed to a trifle amount more often. This method involves possessing a strong commitment to this type of lifestyle, because it requires serious investment in order for the individual to actually be successful. The opportunist robber is the most frequently found robber, who selects a cab driver, or an elderly person, or especially a tourist. They steal small amounts of cash, usually $200 or less, so as to stay less conspicuous and not attract the attention of local law enforcement. They use it as extra pocket money to buy nice things, or sometimes just the essentials, but seeing as the opportunist robber is not a career like the professional robber, they don’t make a lot of money. The addict robber robs people because they need money for drugs. A heroin or crack cocaine addict will sometimes do whatever they can to get their hands on enough money to support their expensive and debilitating habit. There are two different common theories as to why robberies occur; relative deprivation and the power theory. Relative deprivation sees an increase in robbery rates often from black offenders, who see that they are living an unjust life and see that the quality of it could be improved for them. Mass media is commonly directed toward the “average American”: white, upper middle class, and wealthy enough to be envied. When people of color fail to be as successful, often due to the effects of institutional racism, they can become frustrated and sometimes turn to robbery as a result. The power theory is a conflict type theory, wherein people see themselves as not having enough power. It feels as though it’s them against the world, which is seemingly only comprised of the rich and the powerful. They use robbery as a means of getting back at their perceived perpetrators of this injustice. Robbery of the wealthy can make them feel as though they have claimed some of the power they think they deserve, however the euphoria doesn’t last long and it usually isn’t long before they rob again.
Not all crime is committed by single individuals, or even small groups. There are entire organizations devoted to living a life of crime, with examples being the Mafia, Cosa Nostra, Syndicate, and the Mob. While it was originally Sicilian, it can now also be Russian, Irish, Asian, and more. It was a solid infrastructure with an organized chain of command, made up of individuals with differing roles such as Boss, Lieutenants, and Soldiers. Organized crime groups will try and go for big profits, seeing as they have a lot of people who need to benefit off of them. They often sell illegal goods and services, such as acting as a hitman or smuggling drugs. Another common activity is racketeering, which is essential creating a problem in order to offer a predetermined solution as a means of profiting. Large-scale thievery is not infrequent, seeing as these organizations have enough members to pull off fairly large heists. Often these organized crime groups will also own legitimate businesses that can act as a front to hide their secret dealings. It also doesn’t hurt that they can make pretty decent extra profit to fund the group. Lastly, organized crime has been known to corrupt public officials, whether it be by large sums of money or threats to their loved ones. Through this method, organized crime groups are able to keep attention off of them, as well as have a mole for whatever information from the organization the public official might belong to. In terms of politicians, organized crime squads will corrupt them in order to have them vote in the best interest of the organization.
White-collar crime usually brings to mind images of people in suits carrying a briefcase filled with cash. While this might not necessarily be one-hundred percent accurate, it’s not too far off either. White-collar crime is also known as occupational crime or corporate crime, a phrase originally coined by Edwin Sutherland, an American sociologist who was also considered one of the foremost criminologists of his time. There are two distinct types of white-collar crimes: crimes against the public or crimes against the company. Crimes against the public can be a good way to rake in large sums of money, seeing as there are a lot of people in this world dumb enough to be fooled into have their money stolen. Crimes with the public as the target generally consist of things such as tax fraud, stock fraud, Medicare fraud, or real estate fraud. Unsafe products that can be produced cheaply to make a large profit are also seen, as well as deceptive advertising and sales practices that have people signing at the dotted line before they read the tiny text at the bottom telling them what they’re really agreeing to. However, companies will often each other when they see other companies as opponents or competition. Employee theft consists of one company swaying an employee of their competitor in order to join them and provide them with intel about their current boss. It often involves offering a much higher sum of money as payment, because not everyone’s willing to take the risk of getting caught in the act. Embezzlement is also not uncommon, in addition to expense account fraud.
However, an important question to ask is why these crimes occur. Causes can usually fall under one of three categories: victim’s faith and cooperation, society’s indifference, and the criminal’s non-criminal self-image. The American people are trained from birth to trust large corporations, as well as our doctors and government. We have been conditioned to believe that they are always going to be honest to us, and certain individuals seek to take advantage of that trust and faith.. Additionally, often times criminals won’t see themselves as criminals, and instead consider themselves to be either intelligent and successful or worn down with no other options in sight. If you’re wearing a suit and going to work in a high class office every day, it can be hard to still see yourself as a criminal, because it has such a classist and even racist connotation to it. Society’s indifference can play a big role into this, in ways such as how we prosecute poor minorities a disproportionately large amount. Large corporations, however, only get a slap on the risk. A current example of that would be the Wall Street Executives, many of whom were able to keep their job and still control parts of the economy today, at the cost of a sizeable fee.
I think that both crime and juvenile delinquency are due to an unrest found within our society. People aren’t comfortable with the way things are, so they act in deviance and defy the laws of our society. By committing a crime, they often seek to take advantage of others as a sort of power trip, or seek money they feel as though they desperately need. Seeing as guns are responsible for 66% of the murders in America, I’d say that we need much stricter gun laws. Nobody’s trying to repeal the second amendment here, but potential gun owners need to have more extensive background checks, and the gunshow loophole needs to be closed, because it even allows children to buy guns as long as the seller and the buyer come to a private agreement. I don’t think that stricter prison terms would help, because we already have an extremely disproportionate amount of people incarcerated, many of whom could benefit from rehabilitation and then re-enter society as a participating member who can help us better ourselves, as well as improve the economy. A human life has so much potential, and it shouldn’t all be wasted in prison if the person can be a positive member of society through rehabilitation and simply receiving the chance the start anew.
People often refer to Prostitution, Pornography and Homosexuality as victimless crimes or social issues, while others consider these Social Problems. Using all that we have discussed in class, discuss these three topics. What are your personal opinions on: should Prostitution be legal?, should we have more or fewer restrictions on Internet Pornography?, and should Homosexuals have equal treatment under the law and be allowed to marry? Why?
I think that neither prostitution or pornography, nor homosexuality, is an example of social deviance. Although they are not always victimless, I think that both prostitution and pornography could be improved in a way that would benefit all members of society. At this point in time, considering homosexuality to be an issue is the actual problem, seeing as public opinion has shifted with the majority now supporting marriage equality and gay rights. Homosexuality is defined as the feeling of sexual attraction to a member of the same sex. The noun homosexual, however, is much difficult to pin down. If someone has a single sexual experience with a member of their same sex, does that make them a homosexual? Or is it only if it is a recurring thing? I think that it is ultimately up to the individual themselves do decide what sexuality they identify as, because no one can truly tell another how to view themselves. Alfred Kinsey was a sociologist who devoted the years 1949-1953 to developing the so-called ‘Kinsey Scale’. He would ask his subjects if they had at least one homosexual experience throughout the course of their life. 37% of white males said yes, whereas 13% of white women answered affirmatively. Overall, it was then estimated that 7% of all women were homosexual, and 13% of all men. Averaged out, this comes to roughly 10%, which is the same rate of occurrence for people who are left-handed. The Kinsey Scale went from 0-6, with 0 being exclusively heterosexual, and 6 being exclusively homosexual. As the numbers ascend they steadily become identifiers for people who are more homosexual, with incidental homosexual occurrences all the way to being predominantly homosexual. The frequency of heterosexuality drops as the numbers grow, with 3 marking the exact middle between the two ends, symbolizing an equally heterosexual and homosexual sexuality.
There is an entire culture associated with homosexuality, and it has been divided into seven different categories. The trade category encompasses individuals who are predominantly heterosexual, often married, who have only incidental homosexual occurrences. They usually play a more passive role, and aren’t as willing to pursue a potential partner of the same gender. A street hustler often has predominantly heterosexual feelings, but engages in frequent homosexual activity in order to obtain money. Lower class teenage boys and runaways often turn to hustling as a last resort means of making money, and they almost always abandon the practice as they enter adulthood and are able to obtain a better job. A common stereotype of the prisoner has some truth to it, with individuals usually being predominantly heterosexual and only engage in homosexual activity under certain circumstances. These circumstances usually involve close confinement with members of the same sex, which leads to same sex relations. Falling under the umbrella term of homosexuality is bisexuality, which refers to someone to is equally attracted to people of the same gender as well as the opposite. They are usually married, and don’t want to be apart of gay culture or participate in what is traditionally seen as a gay lifestyle. Society is less accepting of homosexuals, and bisexual people often find it easier to settle down with someone of the opposite sex. A call boy is similar to a street hustler, because they both involve prostitution. However a call boy is usually predominantly homosexual, although some may have engaged in heterosexual experiences in the past. They are almost always young and unmarried, and their identification as homosexual doesn’t end when their career in this field does; instead, they identify as part of the gay community. Another type of homosexuality is a homosexual person who is in the closet. They keep their homosexuality a secret from the rest of the world, are usually single but will sometimes marry someone of the opposite sex to elude suspicion. They are afraid to reveal themselves to the public because they fear the repercussions of societal backlash. They worry that they won’t be accepted by the people they know, a fear that is especially common in conservative and religious households. Finally there is the gay guy, who is exclusively and openly homosexual. These men traditionally encompass the widest portion of the gay community, and many of their friends are homosexual as well. They are often proud of their identity and want someone of their same gender to be their partner and maybe get married, now that it’s legal in the U.S.
There are 6 basic stages of developing a homosexual identity: confusion, comparison, tolerance, acceptance, pride, and synthesis. Identity confusion occurs when people find that their thoughts and feelings are at odds with society. These causes them to feel confused and upset, and often make them question themselves about who they are as a person. This is the first time they recognize their thoughts and feelings as being potentially homosexual. Then, as is natural human instinct, they will compare themselves with other people. Identity comparison will cause the individual to notice that they aren’t quite like the rest of society, and they might not feel as though they belong. This is when they truly start to believe that they might be a homosexual, as opposed to just analyzing their feelings as entities separate from their identity. Society raises us in a heteronormative manner, which means that heterosexual behavior is seen to be the “norm” for everything. Couples on t.v. are heterosexual, as well as most influential figures in society. Therefore, it is a conscious and sometimes subconscious effort to transition one’s identity from heterosexual to homosexual. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will become very flamboyant as is the stereotype; it more refers to the fact that they identify as homosexual now, and along with that comes any change they decide to implement. It’s still the individual’s identity, and they can decide exactly who they want to be. It is at this point that identity acceptance begins, which is a step up from identity tolerance, and involves the individual acceptance of themselves and their homosexual identity. Along with this acceptance often comes a desire to interact with others who identify as homosexual, the first step towards reaching out to the homosexual community. The peak of identity formation, in my opinion, is identity pride. This is when the individual finally feels free from heteronormative and homophobic ways of society, thinking of their homosexuality as a good thing instead of bad. In fact, this pride can even go so far as to polarize the individual, making them think that heterosexuality is a bad thing. I think that this is a direct result of having to live a life of conformity that the individual has never identified with. Years upon years of pushing down your identity and refusing to accept yourself is bound to build up more than a little angst, the opportune target for it being the heterosexual community. This pride in their sexuality causes people to feel strongly committed and connected to the gay community as a whole, and may even become politically active as they see the inequality rampant in the world for people like them. Not only is it in their best interest to advocate for gay rights, they can also help people who don’t have a voice for themselves. Lastly there is identity synthesis, wherein the individual lets go of the false conception that they live in an “us” vs. “them” world, where it’s gays vs. the straights. They realize all of the similarities that they have with heterosexuals, seeing as at their core they are from the same people. They also begin to recognize that there are less similarities between themselves and other homosexuals as they once thought. While they may have been tied together by their pride in their sexual identity for a time, the individual realizes that they can have just as many differences in opinion and perspective with homosexual people as they can heterosexual people. Instead of homosexuality being the pinnacle of their identity, it becomes just another aspect of their life that impacts how they live, along with everything else.
There are three general categories of theories as to why homosexuality occurs: biological theories, psychological theories, and sociological theories, with their being two main ones for each kind. The first biological theory is genetic abnormality, which suggests a difference in their X and Y chromosomes or even a specific gay gene. Although some studies have been conducted that shows different brain activity amongst homosexuals and heterosexuals, they are for the most part inconclusive. A potentially harmful theory is that there is a hormonal imbalance, and that homosexuality occurs as a result of having too many hormones from the opposite sex, whether it be testosterone or estrogen. This theory is harmful because years ago, gay men would be given large doses of testosterone in an effort to “fix” their homosexuality. Many men died as a result, such as the famed British cryptanalyst, Alan Turing, who was considered to be a national hero when he decoded messages from the Germans in World War 2. He would later die after being chemically castrated due to cyanide poisoning, just one example of how horribly homosexual people have been treated. A prominent psychological theory in the 19th and 20th century was that homosexuality is a mental illness. Some people still feel this way, such as the creators of ‘conversion camps’. Scientists thought that people who identified as homosexual actually just had a fear of the opposite sex. Thankfully, this ignorance was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses in 1973. A theory more along the lines of Freud, some psychologists thought that the parent-child relationship was the main cause of homosexuality. It was said that a domineering over-protective mother, especially in combination with a detached, hostile, or missing father could result in parental rejection, which would leave a young boy without a same-sex role model. It was thought that since the same sex parent was alienated from the child, they would only identify with the parent of the opposite sex, and therefore develop same sex attractions. As far as sociology goes, there is the causal theory and the non-causal theory. The causal theory says that homosexuality is a result of social conditioning, which essentially means that the subject is taught and trained to be homosexual due to the influences of society. The theory assumes that every child is born with a neutral sexuality, and that they grow to be defined by their experiences. For example, anti-marriage equality advocates say that children of same sex parents will “learn to be gay” from their parents. This creates a powerful taboo against homosexuality in society, which is largely the reason why so many gay people choose to stay in the closet. The non-causal theory, however, states that homosexuality is not an illness, and is instead a variation of sexual expression. It says that your experiences as a sexual adult are more important than your formative years, because it is an indicator of what kind of person you are sexually. I think that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and the only inherent difference between straight people and gay people is their sexuality, something that could be considered trivial in the larger scope of things. If gay people had been accepted centuries ago, I doubt we’d have such an overpopulation problem. It’s society that has created a divide between straight people and gay people, using ignorance and non-acceptance to create a metaphorical ravine between the two peoples. It is the influence of society that decides how differently these two groups are treated, and all shortcomings in terms of equality are due to the naysayers who stagnantly stand opposed, refusing the move along with the rest of the world.
Pornography is was defined in 1973 in the Miller vs. California case to be a work which, taken as a whole, is designed to appeal to people with lewd interests. It must portray sexual conduct in a graphic manner, and doesn’t possess any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. In addition, the product must not have any real worth in society, and is intended solely for sexual pleasures. Pornography is seen as being an example of deviance, something that is seen as a detriment to society. 84% of men and 69% of women have admitted to having seen porn, with 20-25% of men being regular viewers of it. It appeals more to people who are religiously inactive, seeing as these beliefs often directly oppose the nature of pornography. Women get just as aroused by porn as men, and it is the societal connotation associated with pornography that stops more women from watching it as frequently as men do. It is seen as more socially acceptable for a man to watch pornography, and is considered to be “a guy thing”. The typical viewers of porn is a white male, married, aged 26-55. That’s a fairly large demographic, so it’s no surprise that porn is a $13 billion industry in the US alone. To put it into perspective, that is more than the NFL, MLB, or NBA. Porn videos are estimated to bring in around $4 billion every year.
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