Discuss the impacts of environmental factors in particular crime and trauma on the psychological development of an individual. Discuss the impact of nature vs nurture in the context of crime but the perspective of the victim and the criminal.
By Calvin Chong Year 11 VCE Student
Crime and all the norms we choose to associate with are subjective and difficult to accept. The many ongoing investigations associated with crime are providing the attention that our politicians crave so very much. What has been most attended to for criminologists are the subsequent factors that constitute wrongdoing: circumstances, behaviour origin and nature.
What are the principle catalysts in criminal behaviour? Anger, fear, ignorance, opportunity, or malice this concept has been arcane to many. Through our 4 million years of evolutionary successes, we have become sentinel beings, but our natural instincts have never been more prominent. We need not look far in the past to observe human atrocities and genocide from the Second World War. What prompts citizens’ desire for harmony can be related to theoretical cognitive dissonance. Crime can be viewed as “latent” or “hidden” in that we are unaware of the capabilities that one may possess. Therefore it can be difficult to trust others in certain circumstances. Where does the origin of crime stem from: is it a product of our own environment, or can it be inherited from our ancestors?
Propensity to commit crimes is nature influenced by the condition in of the environment in which they were nurtured. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This “nature of crime” can be the influences and cohesion that persuades individuals to commit acts of terror. One such experiment was conducted by Professor Phillip Zimbardo at the University of Stanford, America, in which students 10 prisoners and 10 guards were randomly chosen to conduct roles. What occurred made the experiment notorious and stimulated debate on the ethics of human experiments. The purpose of the experiment was to observe what happened when “You put good people in an evil place.” Does the situation outside come to control your behaviour or do the things inside that is your attitude, values and morality allow you to rise above a negative environment? Ironically this research finding adds credibility to both nature and nurture, showing that both can have consequential impacts on human nature. Nature is synthesized through the students who showed their primitive instincts despite years of education and intellectual teaching. Nurture was created through the prison-like environment. Within the first few days, guards began to humiliate the prisoners, prisons became weak and vulnerable, and other prison guards did not speak out. All members had acclimatised to an increasing level of aggression. In the end it shows training was rendered to nothing, instead, will became everything, the will to survive and dominate others. By the end of six days, the experiment was called off. It showed how difficult it is for victims of crime and even observers to stand up and defend themselves, magnifying the struggle between morally good and bad choices. One of the participants describes this feeling as being “out of controls”. This general comment speaks volumes of the madness that a particular environment can have on an individual.
Criminals thrive on the indulgence of understanding society, but, once we learn to live among criminals, we may begin to pity them, people who choose to steal so that they would not starve or those who must grapple with the predicaments of life and fight to just survive. We begin to lose many assumptions to the simple nature of what is right and wrong. In Central America and the Caribbean, crime has been on the increase in a study by the World Bank. It is in these places that drug use and poverty coinciding with low hospital bed to citizen ratio and low literature rate that make people despite and vulnerable. It is in these conditions that we can observe that crime is dependent, mostly, on an environment and it influence on individuals.
If we view crime as nature induced, a biological and proven research has yielded evidence of DNA on criminal behaviour. In 1966 a man was convicted of the rape and murder of eight students. Upon trial, the attorney for the client pleaded that the man should be excused, because of a faulty gene. Despite this, the man was still sentenced to death; it was later revealed that he actually had a normal genotype. This gene was the XYY. It was later discovered that there was a direct correlation in aggression level with the excessive production of testosterone associated with the XYY chromosome. This shows that certain people can be prone to violence and crime. This can be linked to the warrior gene which is believed to be result in a combative nature. It has been known that nature is responsible for our heights, traits, weights and our IQ. Researchers from King’s College London studied 45 childhood characteristics in 6,759 pairs of identical and non-identical twins across the UK, to determine whether their genes or their environment was more important. It was discovered that whether the children were unruly or not was not dependent on their gene rather it was the London environment that played a greater role. Possibly because of the wealth and friendship between subjects.
It is theorised that crime, and the violence it brings, is a way of natural selection. This is known as Thomas Malthus theory. In this logic, crime and murder is a natural way of population control. Using food and resources, there is only a certain amount in which an environment can maintain. When population grows too wild, violence and death will occur to restore the balance. The bubonic plague may be seen as a remedy for population control. In Florence Italy alone, about 45% of the population died. In modern times, we are able to change this through innovations in medical technology. Contrary, this is but just one way of thinking of this logic. If we use a different logic we may conclude the environment has just an influence on crime as any other.
As people we are swayed by our own environments. As children we are very impressionable as what is learned can dictate behaviour. In history a significant historical event with unprecedented value lead to sweeping changes in technology and every child getting 12 years of formal education, was the Industrial Revolution. Before 19th century more than 80% of the population resided on rural farmland, today it is less than 1%. The Industrial Age was characterized by an exceptionally prominent role that formal schooling played in education. As a result of changes to social education and behaviour, attitudes changed too. Once humble farmers who are now educated had become assertive. This nature influenced by the condition in of the environment in which they were nurtured or rather under-nurtured. Parents who were working long hours had the means to send their children to school and be educates. There was a lack of family values and social interaction. Pascal once said “Justice is subject to dispute; might is easily recognised and not disputed, therefor we can mot give might to justice.” They rose above the bliss of ignorance and began to protest and rebel against those in power, being the government. They protested government movements, treatments and living costs. This may not be seen as a knee jerk reaction against power, but rather a means to adapt to diversity and makes society dynamic. At a societal level, education therefore plays an important balancing role between stability and change.
Trauma from crime impacts on the psychological development of an individual through fear, and mistrust of surrounding environment. For them the simple yet harshest realities are often the hardest and most difficult to accept. As observed through the standard prison experiment, we may begin to understand why it is so difficult of victims of abuse to speak out. Through crime and trauma lives can begin to be dictated by fear. These influence our attachment with society. Victims of crime often lead to severe mental and psychological retardation, for other it is more subtle, they form quasi friendships, and “permanently jetlagged”, a gentle way of going insane. This put pressure on all forms of government. The number of Australian crime victims is on the rise, this is to be expected with population increase. But the cost of crime become increasingly concerning for taxpayers. The Australian institute of criminology estimates the cost and trend of crime. It estimates the cost if between “$11 billion and $50 billion dollars a year,” With the largest cost resulting from white collar crime, about 40%. Factual as this may be, it is the crimes of violence and intimidation that cost the most in the long term. Unlike white collar crime, crimes of assault and trafficking affect the psychological development of an individual.
Trauma resulting from crime is inevitable, as we look to ways to control it, we are unable. Victim of crime and perpetrators must learn to limit the trauma and accept the pain, and be integrated back into society. If they do not make conscious decisions about how to think and what to pay attention to, then melancholy and malice will begin to corrupt the mind, as for some, it is the automatic default setting, the rat race with no end and no gain. But to not think this way takes will and effort. Some days will be easier than others. Given the newly created avenues of crime compensation in place, it is not difficult to see many people rising above the negative environment. It has allowed victims of crime a maximum of $100,000 compensation. This is a fair sum of money, simply because it is much easier to deal with the issue directly than have it burden on the economy. This is a sector that is in of improving but should still be well applauded for the assistance and rehabilitation of individuals back into a normal functioning society. Systems similar to these should be assisted by the overwhelming population through knowledge of these heinous crimes. Currently, ignorance is has declared crimes and its association with citizens as frivolous information. Good differentiation capability requires good evaluation capabilities. Preferences need to be based on coherent value systems that are also aligned with social requirements. Ethical principles and concepts should become important contends in education.
While the law has many punishments for the atrocities we inflict on others there is no punishment for the terror we inflict on ourselves. There are many possibilities with dealing crime. One such method was to use criminals as hunting dogs to pursue other criminals. This is a concept seen in a series show “Psycho Pass” in which latent criminals are monitored by police and trained to hunt crimes like themselves. In “Brave New World” citizens are given ranks and status. A utopia world where it is an imaginary society organized to create ideal conditions for human beings, eliminating hatred, pain, neglect, and all of the other evils of the world. These ideas are thought provoking as we look to solutions to mediate the trends of crime and review the current systems.