In criminology, researchers have constantly tried to explain why people commit crime and engage in juvenile delinquency. Many theories have emerged for over a century about why people commit these deviant behaviors. Macro-level theories focus on social structures and the effects of those structures on the human behavior. Basically, macro-level theories explains aggregate crime. Micro-level theories focuses on individuals and their interactions with various groups of people. For example, the relationship between family members, friends, and groups, that individuals interact with every-day, which explains individual criminal behavior. These interactions affect their attitudes, beliefs, and what seems normal for people. One of the most interesting theories that that tries to explain this, is Hirschi’s social bonding theory, which is based on how crime is the result of weakened bonds to society and is considered a micro-level theory.
This paper will define social bonding theory, explain its elements, and use a case study to apply this theory. The case study is based on a fifteen year old boy who is currently serving a life prison sentence. In addition, the paper will examine possible ways to prevent delinquency from occurring.
Theory Explained and Four Basic Elements
Akers and Sellers (2013) explain that Hirschi’s theory postulated a person’s delinquent behavior is the result of his weakened bonds to his community, school, and social groups. Consequently, if those bonds are not strong, the individual’s attachment to certain groups, that he interacts with, will cause him to be closer to those types of people, even if they cause him to commit criminal acts. According to Krohn and Massey (1980), Hirschi’s theory, like other control viewpoints, attempts to explain why people conform. Furthermore, Hirschi stated there are four basic elements to his theory. First is attachment, which relates to a person’s closeness to family, school, teachers, and religious institutions. Akers and Sellers (2013) found that the more nonchalant a person is to other people’s perceptions, the less, the individual will feel to conforming to the norms of society. The second element is individual involvement, where a person spends time, effort, focus, and money on some goal. This may involve something worthwhile like education or home ownership. The third element is individual commitment, where a person interacts in something he is really interested in such as sports, religion, or even work. Finally, the last element is belief that comes from respect for law and order.
Bartollas and Miller (2013) has stated that, in the United States, each year, there are numerous juvenile delinquents who are given mandatory life prison sentences. Although the Supreme Court ruled that Graham vs Florida found that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment for non-homicidal offenses, it must be remembered that there are state statutes still in place...