Criminal Behavior And Its Causes

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Have you always wondered what are the underlying reasons why someone grows up to become a criminal in society? The world is filled with so much violence and with people who are heartless. Why is it that because of the violence and heartless people, we have human beings in our society who hurt others to fulfill themselves and feel pleased. Growing up from a loving and nurturing family, I believe that that is how everyone should grow up to see and feel. Unfortunately, there are circumstances where others were not so fortunate and had a rough childhood. Where they experienced neglection, violence, sexual abuse, etc. Some would say that criminal behavior is due to biological reasons, but adverse childhood experiences may actually be the cause of criminal behavior.

Criminal behavior is influenced by childhood experiences, negative social environment, substance abuse and child abuse. When you’re born, you don’t get to choose who your parents will be, nor choose how you want to live your life as a child. “Children raised in particularly bad situations are at an increased risk for criminal behavior in both their juvenile and adult years. In fact, research shows that convicted criminals are likely to have experienced four times as many adverse childhood events than non-criminals.” (Walden University). Most convicted criminals have experienced a rough childhood and suffered from many abusing situations. Therefore, they believe that many situations they witness as a kid is what looks and seems correct to them.

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Children who lived in a bad and negative home situation tend to become more like how their parents and to behave in those same behaviors. If there parents were There could be children living with parents who are abusing, who have some sort of substance abuse and this is what you grow up to see and do. “Children surrounded by violence in their homes and communities learn from an early age that they cannot trust, the world is not safe, and that they are powerless to change their circumstances. Beliefs about themselves, others, and the world diminish their sense of competency. Their negative expectations interfere with positive problem-solving, and foreclose on opportunities to make a difference in their own lives.” (The National Traumatic Stress Center). The national traumatic stress center is a center for those who would like to learn more about trauma in children and how they are there to help them. It gives us information on the different types of behaviors a child may be showing. This quote explains that you may become very negative about yourself and others. You cannot trust anyone around you, and may believe everyone is out to hurt you. When you feel useless and powerless, you may try to find ways to make others feel how your feeling. Instead of wanting to change your negative thoughts to being more positive and changing for the best. Typically, they just become more negative and you can’t seem to change those expectations.

When you grow up in a dysfunctional home where there is violence and abuse, you begin to develop emotions and behaviors that as you grow older affect your everyday life and relationships with others. “Findings from a subset of participants with histories of childhood physical and emotional abuse further showed that female participants were more likely to exhibit internalizing problems such as depression, social withdrawal, and anxiety during middle childhood, which in turn increased the risk of adult crime. In contrast, male participants were more likely to exhibit externalizing behavioral problems, such as aggression, hostility, and delinquency during middle childhood, which subsequently led to adult criminal behavior.” (Todd I. Herrenkohl, 2017, Para. 6) Feelings of anger, loneliness, sadness, anxiety and fear are the types of emotions both women and men may phase as a child and as they grow older in life. Women are typically more nurturing and caring, but If as a child there was maltreatment, sexual abuse, neglection. It is most likely to easily fall into dangerous relationships, drugs and delinquency at a young age and into adulthood. On the other hand, men may become more aggressive and express his emotions with more anger and violence. This affects the relationships they may be in because that’s how some men may become abusive towards their partner and others. Some may not be able to control their emotions and temper and it leads them to hurt themselves or others.

In addition, criminal behavior may start to show early on in a child’s life. If someone comes from a home of violence and abuse, children will typically feel this is normal to them and that is what they will portray to others. Early signs that a child may show could be hurting their peers in school, their family members or pets. Most of the time you start to see that there are behaviors that are not normal and it’s a sign of danger. From early in your childhood life, up to adolescence and to adulthood. These behaviors will become more common and intense. They start of by hurting animals, then to the people close to them and eventually killing. “Violence in the community can prevent children from feeling safe in their own schools and neighborhoods. They may come to believe that violence is ‘normal,’ that [it] is ‘here to stay,’ and that relationships are too fragile to trust because one never knows when violence will take the life of a friend or loved one. They may turn to gangs or criminal activities to prevent others from viewing them as weak and to counteract feelings of despair and powerlessness, perpetuating the cycle of violence and increasing their risk of incarceration.”( Christopher Freeze, 2019, para. 13).

Like I said before when your whole life you are used to maltreatment and violence, you will start to get involved in drugs, substance abuse and in negative social environments. Which leads you to join gangs, witness crimes or even be involved in them. These criminal acts are a way of showing that you are strong and not weak. They will hurt others to please their needs and satisfactions to feel better about themselves.

There is a believe that criminal behavior is due to biological factors and that there is some dysfunction in the brain. However, adverse childhood experiences are the cause of criminal behavior. As a child you are exposed to different life situations where you can’t control them because as a child you are guided by your parents and can’t chose how to be raised. Some Biological factors that can take place into criminal behavior could be brain malfunction, where there are parts in the brain that are not connecting properly with areas of decision making and emotions. In the brain there is the amygdala that is where it produces fear, anger and it can reinforce such behaviors where you may act in harm to others.

However, the true cause of criminal behavior is due to the childhood experiences you went through. When you are a child you are not able to choose who your parents are or how you want to be treated and raised. Underlying reasons are that if you grow up in a home where you are being abused or you see violence and abuse at home, children usually tend to either produce the same actions as they grow older. Child trauma can affect their social life and have them feel anger as they grow older. If a child has parents who besides being abusive, have a substance problem the child will see everything and will look up to their parents, even sometimes if they don’t know that what they are doing is wrong. Parents can be at fault because they are either consciously or unconsciously showing their kids what is not right to do. Even though biological reasons could also influence criminal behavior, the actual reason is adverse childhood experiences because that is how eventually they suffer from mental problems or emotional problems because of their childhood life.

In conclusion, childhood experiences are a major cause of why people turn into criminals and why they behave with such anger and violence. Criminals come from a difficult and abusive home, with parents who were a bad influence in their lives and where they had no one to look up to, for guidance and for love and affection. That is how these criminals grew up to not care about anything or anyone but themselves, they grow up being heartless and doing anything, up to killing who ever in order to satisfy themselves. As a child they lived in fear of their own parents or of their life and when they grow older, they start to show those hurting memories and instead hurt others who they see as more fortunate then themselves.

Annotated bibliography

  1. Walden University. “What Influences Criminal Behavior?” Walden University, Walden University, 2 Apr. 2020,
  2. Peterson, Sarah. “Effects.” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 11 June 2018,
  3. Herrenkohl, Todd. “Pathways Between Child Maltreatment and Adult Criminal Involvement.” National Institute of Justice, 2017,
  4. “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Crime.” FBI, FBI, 9 Apr. 2019,    


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