James is a construction worker who was living with his parents. However, he had a secret habit of burglary, and was once caught and taken to the police station. His mother bailed him out and in a fit of anger accused him of causing her early death. In retaliation, James said that he had not learnt anything from his father and their constant fights affected him. He later learnt that his father was also abused as a child and in an attempt not to hurt him he decided to keep away from him.
When James was younger, he only had one male figure in his life and therefore he only had his father who acted as a role model to him. He probably copied most of his habits from his father. James argues that his mother constantly fought with his father about his drinking. It a widely known fact that alcoholics can be very irresponsible and not take care of their families as much as they ought to. Alcoholics rarely have money and capacity to take care of their families adequately (White, 2004). They spend all their money on alcohol and exhibit symptoms of depression. It is obvious that James saw the way his father behaved towards him and thus learnt that it was the way to live life. He did not have any other role models in life. His mother exclaimed that he will end up like his father. It is clear that James subconsciously picked up this kind of behavior from his father. His father never taught him anything and thus he had no option but to act in the same way that his father did.
James saw the way that his father acted and thus copied them. He was nurtured to believe that this was the only way to act. Furthermore, the fact that his father did not in any way accept or show any remorse for his mistakes made him believe that it is the only way he should act. Nurturing of a child is very important. The character of a child is mostly shaped during his early years. If the correct morals are not instilled in children when they are younger, then they are likely to become deviant individuals in the society. If children are taught good morals, then they are likely to carry this into their adulthood, however, if they are taught deviant or criminal behavior when they are younger, then they are likely to become criminals in the future (Osenblatt, 2001). In the same way, James was not taught anything by his father when he was younger and, therefore, he only copied what he saw from his father.
There are many contributing factors that led to his behavior. For instance, his parents were constantly fighting and, therefore, he may not have gotten the attention that he needed as a child. He lacked guidance and love from his parents and thus it is possible that he felt abandoned with no one to take care of him and teach him the correct ways of life. The fact that his father was an alcoholic also played a major role in his character. His father did not spend any time with him and thus he had no one to nurture him. He did not live in an environment that could have fostered good behavior. He did not have a good upbringing that could have guided him into the right path. He was often left unsupervised as his parents tried to solve their issues and thus he engaged in criminal behavior without anyone noticing any negative traits cropping up in his character. If anyone had noticed that he was engaging in illegal activities, they may have intercepted and helped him cultivate more positive behavior (Pliszka, 2000).
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If James had been taken away from his home at a younger age, he could have turned out better or worse depending on where he would have ended up. If he had been taken away from home and placed in a more supportive environment or among responsible adults who would have paid attention to him, then he would have turned out a better individual. Children usually copy or imitate what they see among the adults who are close to them. Responsible adults would have paid more attention to him and thus they would have noticed any unbecoming traits in his character and thus intercepted before he got any worse. He would have also gotten appropriate role models from whom he would imitate the needed character traits in his life. On the other hand, if he had been placed in a foster home with no good role models, then he would have ended up in the same way or even worse. He would have been influenced by the rest of the children to participate in criminal behavior and thus turn out to be a more hardened criminal.
It was not right for James to shift the blame to his father. As much as his experiences as a child influence the character of an individual to a very large extent, James was 24 years old when he was arrested. At this point in his life, he is responsible for his mistakes and needs to be liable for them. He has the capacity to know what is wrong and what is right (Piquero, 2000). It is clear that he is very bitter for what his father did not do for him when he was younger. While he is justified to feel the way he did, he needs to be responsible for his actions. His father has a role to play in the blame although James could have chosen to turn out differently. After the age of 18 an individual is considered a grown-up capable of making his own decision and thus there is no one to blame other than him. He had succumbed to peer pressure. The system did not play its role in his life but this is not an excuse for his criminal behavior.
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The reaction formation may apply in this case in that James may have wanted to act in the right way or even turn out to be better than he was, but he simply did not have the courage and the guidance to enable him to turn out differently. He may have wanted to be a better man than his father and to do things differently but due to the circumstances he was unable to do that. He went down the wrong path despite his desire to be a better person and to lead a different path from his father. In this case strain theory applies in that what he was seeing in the house from people who were meant to be his role models, such as his father and his mother, was different from what the society expected. He was in constant conflict in what he was experiencing and what the society expects (White, 2004). Subculture on the other hand operates against the principles of the mainstream culture. In this case, James learnt of the juvenile delinquency from his parents and they propagated the behavior. James turned out exactly the way his family had been where no one cared for the other and everyone was too absorbed in their own problems to take proper care of him.
The social learning theory suggests that people learn from the people who are around them. Children especially learn from the adults around them and their behavior is shaped by the said individuals. If an individual is constantly among violent people, then he is likely to turn out to be a violent individual as well. In the same way, if a person is among people with the correct morals, then they are likely to be upright individuals in the society. Children are likely to become individuals nurtured by the culture of the people around them (Piquero, 2000). A child who grows up in an abusive family is likely to abuse their own children in the future, because this is the only thing that they know and are not aware of how to do things differently. However, some manage to get rid of tag and act better towards their children
Cognitive theory deals with the way individuals perceive the world and the relationships with other people in the world. The way an individual perceives, constructs, and thinks about the universe greatly affects his behavior towards other people. A person who does not have the correct parenting skills or is not able to deal with the child during the various stages of growth is likely to lead to a deviant child. This is because they do not have the correct response to the various issues that the child may present. Additionally cognitive theorists find that people who do not have correct emotional contact with their children are likely to be abusive towards them (Osenblatt, 2001). When a child is born, the parent is meant to form a bond with the child so that they can have the right relationship. However, in cases where there is no bond, forming a right relationship may be very difficult as the child grows up not understanding why the parent does not like him and the adult feels no connection to the child and hence no sense of responsibility. This mostly happens to individuals who were abused when they were younger and have a very bitter relationship with their families. Such individuals usually end up with very low self-esteem.
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James may have learnt his behavior from his father. His father was very abusive towards him and thus he may not have learnt the correct way to take care of his own child. In his attempt not to harm his child the way that his father hurt him, he ended up neglecting him instead of taking care of him. He had not healed completely from his childhood abuse and so may have taken to drinking in order to forget about his pain (Pliszka, 2000). This was not the correct way to deal with his issues. He may also have had very low self-esteem and did not know how to take care of his child. His relationship with the family members was also very poor as he did not know how to relate with his wife or his son. He constantly fought with his wife and did not care about his son to know that he was going through issues. After learning about his fathers childhood James should have been more understanding and try to reach out to his father so that they could mend their relationship and become better people in the society.
In conclusion, society, more so the family, plays a very important role in the character of the child. James was brought up in a family that was not involved in his life and did not offer him guidance. As a result, he became a delinquent and a criminal. If his family had paid attention to his needs and was more attentive to him, then it is likely that he would have turned out a better individual than he was. Due to neglect and lack of guidance, he engaged in criminal behavior and ended up in police custody. His father was also still struggling with the abuse that he had gone through when he was younger and thus he did not know how to take care of his son properly. If this issue is not corrected, then the cycle is likely to continue.
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