Delinquent behavior can considered normal in adolescent years. There are many different types of behaviors that are exhibited during teenage years, and as a society we have learned that this period could invoke delinquent behavior. Each individual must go through this rite of passage we refer to as adolescent year, a time where the individual is no longer a child but still not an adult. This is a transition from childhood to adulthood and it can be a troubling time for many individuals. In this paper I will discuss Moffitt's development taxonomy of delinquency and Akers social learning theory. I will discuss these two theories and how they attempt to explain some of the behavioral changes in adolescences. I will also discuss how these two theories explain the behavior of the three participants interviewed.
Moffitt's developmental taxonomy has two principal pathways that explains antisocial behaviors and outcomes: (1) the life-course persistent (LCP) pathway and the adolescence-limited (AL) pathway (Walters, 2011). The LCP path can begin in early childhood and is usually marked with subtle neuropsychological behaviors. There are small signs that the individual exhibits that could indicate LCP. Some of the obvious signs of LCP "are environmental deprivations, poor interpersonal relationships and pervasive pattern of offending that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues through middle adulthood" (Walters, 2011). Some experts argue that LCP antisocial behavior is a form of psychopathology. The AL path is more accepted by society as normative, a rite of passage, and "a normal age dependent response to the maturity gap that frequently accompanies adolescence" (Walters, 2011). The AL is more accepted as normal destructive behavior that is exhibited as a part of growing up. It is exhibited during teenage years, when the individual is trying to find themselves.
Moffitt's work in development taxonomy has made significant changes in the field of criminology. Developmental taxonomy has helped to shape the way behavior is analyzed and examined. The developmental taxonomy of delinquency theory was developed by Terrie Moffitt in 1993. In the last 15 years this concept has been utilized successfully by many practitioners (Saunders, 2010). Understanding when the delinquent behavior began is an essential part of the development taxonomy, it helps to understand the individual (Roth & Bartsch, 2004).
Mr. A and Ms. C, made mistakes during their adolescent's years of life, however they abandoned their delinquent behaviors. They were acting rebellious during their teenage years, which many individuals do during their search for adulthood. These two individuals exhibited AL, breaking the rules during teenage years, exploring, and stretching boundaries. These two individuals are a perfect example of AL, the individuals remembered having a normal childhood. Family members remember them being loving, kind and great little children. Today as adults they are both upstanding citizens, have good families and are respectable individuals. Their rebellions were limited to their teenage years as described by Moffitt's AL pathways in her development taxonomy.
Social Learning Behavior
Social learning behavior by Akers is a theory that was derived from Albert Bandura's theory of social learning. Bandura believed that our "learning experiences, a vast array of stimuli eventually acquire the capacity to activate and guide our behavior" (Bandura, 1977, 58). Akers described social learning behavior as a learned behavior that prevents us from making bad choices and learned behavior that aids us to make deviant choices and criminal behavior (Akers, 2008, p77).
Social learning theory provides a good conceptual framework for understanding deviant behaviors, antisocial behaviors and criminal behavior (Prather & Golden, 2009). External environmental factors influence the way we think, the way we act and the decisions we make. Often adolescence is influenced by their peers, which is a common part of the social learning experience. Influence from the peers can eventually alter the way the individual thinks and make decisions. Deviant behavior is usually formed by a combination of the larger social context and the individual relationships and experiences (Lee, Akers & Borg, 2004).
Mr. B is a great example of social learning and how a person can be influenced by their peers. Mr. B admits that he began drinking at school and sneaking the alcohol into school to impress his friends. Mr. B expanded his delinquent behaviors to impress his friends. He was encouraged and rewarded by his friends for his delinquent accomplishments. Mr. B began drinking at a young age; he then started drinking at school. His friends put him on a pedestal after each negative accomplishment, so he kept on trying to up show himself. Mr. B received positive rewards for his negative behaviors and learned that his negative behavior was acceptable. He continued to live his life in this way.
Based on the information I read in the text, and research conducted for this paper I feel that I can give more weight to the social learning theory by Akers than I would to Moffitt's developmental taxonomy. I personally believe that children can make mistakes, they can be considered mischievous, and grow up to become respectable people. Many children who were raised in difficult situations, poverty, broken homes and abuse, develop behavior problems early on in life (Thurston, 2006). If these children are given the proper help and care, they can learn to make the right choices. Moffitt's developmental taxonomy LCP basically implies that individuals who start their deviant behaviors early in life such as childhood is likely to have a lifetime of deviant behaviors. I don't believe that small deviant behaviors in childhood indicate the individual is doomed for a life of crime. I do think there is a correlation between individuals who have exhibited deviant behaviors in childhood and crime; however that can be credited to lack of receiving the right help for these behavior problems.
Mr. B exhibits more signs of social learning behavior, however in some ways he also exhibits LCP. Mr. A and Ms. C exhibit AL at different levels. Ms. C began her deviant behavior around the age of 13 years, she soon after got pregnant and was then forced to have an abortion. Ms. C ended her delinquent behaviors soon after it began. Mr. A delinquent behaviors began in his teenage years and lasted most of high school which is the true description of AL. Each individual is different and each of these case studies is different. There many other factors that we are not considering, things we do not know about the individual. Behaviors are changed by many different factors, external environmental factors such as social learning behavior and internal factors like genetic makeup. In conclusion each individual is different and their behavior may be attributed to different causes.
I spoke with individual A, who is now in his late thirties, he told me about some of the things he did as a teenager. Mr. A would get dressed in the morning for school, his father would drop him off to the train station and then he would take off. He would go to bars, pool halls, hang out with girls and go to any place he could get into except school. He would get home before his parents so he could delete messages from his school and go through the mail for correspondence from his school. Mr. A would skip school at least twice per week and hang out with his friends who were also delinquents. Mr. A remembers being a loving child who always followed the rules. He said his behavior changed in about 10th grade in high school. Mr. A is now a reliable, dependable member of society, a husband, father and manager in a fortune 500 company.
Mr. B is in his late forties, he told me stories about his youth. Mr. B talks about his high school experience with a big smile on his face. He takes pride in what he referred to as his high school accomplishments. He would put alcohol in his pepsi bottle, and bring it to school to impress his friends. The teachers at school never found out he was drinking at school because he had become good at hiding his behaviors. Mr. B and his friends all did this daily. Once they mastered drinking at school, they began smoking at school. Mr. B and his friends would hide the cigarettes in their school books and bags. Mr. B continues to break the rules when he can, he is an alcoholic, his hides his drinking from his family, and chain smokes daily. Mr. B lives his life on the edge.
Ms. C is now 29 years old and she has lived more than half of her life of the memory of an abortion. Ms. C got pregnant when she was only 13 years old; her parents forced her to get an abortion. She was in junior high school when she would meet her boyfriend after school and have sex. She lied to her parents about after school programs she was…