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Rebels With Cause: Why Criminals Are Made, Not Born

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  • Category: crime

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We witness crime and violence everywhere-from the media, to our own towns and cities, yet what do we really know about the people responsible for these crimes? Are these people destined to be outcasts, or are they created by the very society that they take advantage of? People have always wondered about the link between the root causes of crime and a person’s upbringing. The relationship between the two is broad and includes economic causes, social causes and drug abuse. This leads to the ongoing debate, are criminals born or made? To answer this question: criminals are not born, but develop as such through their life experiences.

The majority of crime can be linked to economic causes. First, poverty is a growing concern in our country. “Children aged 4 to 11 years, in poor families, were in worse health, more hyperactive, had poorer vocabulary and math scores, participated in few sports, and had more friends who got in trouble” (City of Toronto, 2005:1). These factors, in turn, lead to school drop outs wich may lead to criminal behaviour. Secondly, cuts to community resources is a problem that needs to be stopped. A recent survey by Toronto’s Task Force on Community Safety identified cuts to community resources as one of the underlying causes of crime in Toronto (T.T.F.C.S, 1998).

Community resources keeps kids out of trouble, because of this cutting these resources may lead to an increase in criminal activity. Lastly, unemployment is a contributing cause to crime. Numerous studies find that an alarming number of youth and adults admitted to correctional facilities are unemployed (CS&CPC, 1996). Continual unemployment often leads to a sense of dispair, particularly amongst youth and can bring about outraged expression including theft, substance and alcohol abuse, as well as child and family violence. Therefore, criminals are created because of economic causes such as poverty, cuts to community resources and unemployment.

Social elements in life can lead to normal people becoming criminals . To begin with, parenting has a dramatic effect on the way a person is raised. Child abuse, one of the most extreme examples of ineffective parenting, is increasing with 23% of childrens aid societies investigations in Ontario involving police agencies (City of Toronto, 2005). Inadequate parenting and socialization issues are seen as key contributing factors to crime. Also, hate crimes are affecting an ever growing number of people. “A survey of lesbian and gay men conducted by the 519 Church Street Community Centre Victim Assistance Program found that 78% of respondents reported experiencing verbal assaults, 38% reported being chased or followed, and 21% reported being punched, kicked or beaten because someone assumed them to be gay” (City of Toronto, 2005:2). Hate crimes are a good example of how the beliefs a person is taught may affect them criminally in the long term. In addition, mass media has an influence on both kids and adults. The mass media depicts crime in a glorifying way through movies, television, and recently music (Jewkes, 2004). A person exposed to violent media has a better chance of becoming violent themselves because they might accept the images they see as being normal and part of everyday life. In brief, social causes such as child abuse, hate crimes, and mass media all have an influence on whether a person becomes a criminal.

People who use drugs are more likely to be involved in crime one way or the other. To start, selling drugs and possesion of drugs is a crime. “In fact, more than 60 percent of all federal prisoners are in jail for drug-related offenses” (The Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program, 2004:24). Selling drugs is a risky business but people are attracted to it because of the amount of money that can be made from it, once they decide to become a drug dealer they are also deciding to become a criminal. Furthermore, drugs are very expensive. In 1996, 96 people died from drug related causes in Toronto (City of Toronto, 2005).

The price of drugs can not only result in poverty, but can also lead people to murder others for free drugs or control of drug territory. Moreover, drug abuse has an effect on the user’s children, who could develop into criminals because of the drug use. “The number of Toronto newborns diagnosed with conditions related to prenatal drug exposure (76 babies for the most recent reporting period) is significantly higher than totals observed in previous years” (City of Toronto, 2005:4). These newborns can develop psychological problems (such as psychosis) that may result in them displaying criminal behavior later in life. To sum up, selling drugs, the price of drugs, and using drugs all can lead to an individual becoming a criminal.

It is clear that criminals develop through their life experiences. They aren’t born criminals; they grow into them because of the root causes of crime. Economic causes change the way a person lives, making them much different than they would have been in a contrary circumstance. Also, social causes twist and recalibrate a person into what they are told they are and what they see themselves as. Lastly, drugs lead them down a shady path of confusion and recklessness. It is unmistakable that people see criminals and convicts and they think “that person will never change” or “they’re stuck like that the rest of their lives”, but in reality that person has been changing their whole lives, and in order to fix the problem of crime one must first look at the roots of it and change those roots so that all people have a fair shot at a healthy, clean life.

Works Cited:

City of Toronto. “What We Know about the Root Causes of Crime in Toronto.” Toronto, 2005.


CS&CPC. “The Root Causes of Crime.” CS&CPC, 1996.


Jewkes, Yvonne. Media and Crime (Key Approaches to Criminology). California:SAGE, 2004.

Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program, The. “Eradicating Crime at the Source.” Freedom, 2004:24.

Toronto’s Task Force on Community Safety. “Toronto Talks Safety: Summary.”

Toronto, September 1998.


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