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A Matter Of Growing Concern…

The Social Distancing not only does isolate a person from the social order, but also makes her/him, in a way, to commit crimes. The motivations for committing criminal acts lie everywhere. Awareness is, nowadays, the key to getting rid of it.

Keeping a close eye on contemporary events helps one realise that the violent and criminal acts have started posing a serious threat to the society. The Social Media are flooded with such news. Significantly, the perpetrators have no past criminal records in many cases, as they have committed crimes for the first time. Many get involved in criminal activities soon after attaining puberty, especially in India. At the same time, there is also an increase in crime against women!

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In its latest report, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB of India) has stated that there was a 47% jump in crimes committed by the teenagers from 2010 to 2015. In a separate report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 42% of boys and 37% of girls experienced bullying by their classmates in 40 Developing Nations in the last one year! As far as India is concerned, crime against women has emerged as the most committed crime in recent times. It jumped 3.6% in 2017-18. The NCRB data shows that one Indian lady is being harassed in every three minutes, while one incident of rape is taking place in every 29 minutes!

What are the key factors behind committing such a crime? Is it a mere outcome of a psychological problem, or the heredity or  determines the factor? Some Psychologists stress on the social, family-related, and environmental factors… well, all of these elements have little role to play as far as criminal activity is concerned.

Noted Italian Criminologist and Physician Cesare Lombroso (November 6, 1835 – October 19, 1909) claimed that the abnormal mental structure had a great impact on a criminal mind. Meanwhile, German-born British Psychologist Hans Jürgen Eysenck (March 4, 1916 – September 4, 1997) mentioned in his ‘Theory of Criminality‘ that criminal activities were closely related to three main traits of human characters: Extraversion, Neuroticism (anxiety, frustration, lack of confidence in oneself, etc.) and Psychotic Characteristics (aggression, emotional reaction, hostility, etc.).

In his publication ‘Heredity in Criminality‘ (1975), Dr David Rosenthal mentioned that heredity was an important factor that would help one understand the criminal psychology. However, he did not mention any specific gene or ‘genotype‘ attributing to this. In 1977, Psychologist Andrew Christensen conducted a research, showing that while there was a 50% chance of mutual involvement in committing a crime for monozygotic twins (derived from a single ovum and so identical), it was just 21% in case of dizygotic twins (derived from two separate ova and so not identical). It is to be noted that it is 50%, and not 100%, even in case of monozygotic twins. It proves that the impact of the environment, and not just the genes, is important in criminal behaviour!

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Cesare Lombroso

Dr Sarnoff Andrei Mednick and some other psychologists carried out studies on monozygotic twins in 1984. They monitored the behaviours of monozygotic twins after arranging two separate families who would take care of them. The scientists found that the twins adopted the aggressive character from their foster parents, and not from their biological parents! Mednick’s study, too, indicated an important role of the environment in criminal psychology. In 2013, Marc Gellman and John Rick Turner discussed the impacts of different social environments on the nature of criminal behaviour in their ‘Encyclopedia of Behavioural Medicine‘.

India’s social environment has changed in the last 75 years… initially, slow, and then, very fast. The history of India’s social transformation is highly influenced by industrialisation during the post-Independence period. After the Government adopted the LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation) policy in the early 1990s, the youth slowly became aggressive! Meanwhile, the NCRB has revealed another interesting data. While the cases of theft and robbery decreased by about 80% and 29%, respectively, from 1953 to 2006; the cases of murder and kidnapping increased by 7.39% and 47.8%, respectively.

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The Sociologists are of the opinion that the main reasons for the perpetration of crime are the increasing poverty, poor environment, illiteracy and the absence of guardians during childhood. However, the NCRB has made a different claim. The number of minor and educated criminals jumped 32% in 2016-17. On the other hand, the number of minor and uneducated criminals decreased by 20% during this period. The NCRB has further revealed that nearly 86% offenders used to live with their parents, while 10.3% lived with their guardians, and only 3.5% were homeless!

Many believe that changes in Social Environment and other Family-related issues are responsible for this criminal psychology. Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have badly affected the adolescent minds. They are unable to share their mental stress and anxieties with others. The Consumerist Culture, too, has slowly destroyed the Social Values. The Strain Theory clearly states that certain strains or stressors increase the likelihood of crime. These strains lead to negative emotions, such as frustration and anger. And, these emotions create pressure for corrective action, and crime is one possible response.

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Children of Lower- and Middle-class families are growing up with the pressure of expectation! Self-centredness has become an inalienable part of their lives. Moreover, working parents fail to get time to sit together with their children and to know their problems. Instigation for committing criminal acts is everywhere in the society… the movies and media are constantly promoting sex and violence. In order to rescue the children from this situation, awareness at all levels of the society is required.

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