Describe any research which suggests that our social environment will affect whether we turn to crime.

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Turning to crime
Upbringing
Describe any research which suggests that our social environment will affect whether we turn to crime (10)
Wikstom and Tafel conducted a study involving 2,000 14-15 year old adolescents from Peterborough. The aim of the
study was to investigate what individual and situational/socio-cultural factors would be "risk-factors" in turning to
crime. "Risk-factors" are determinates that will increase the risk of developing criminal behaviour; "protective
factors" are factors which are likely to decrease a person's changes of turning to crime.
W+T used a variety of methodologies to collect their data; including questionnaires, interviews and psychometric
tests. The purpose of the questionnaires was to establish situational aspects about the participants lives such as peer
relationships, family life experiences, school experiences, moral reasoning and decision making when faced with
consequences. The interviews gathered qualitative data about the onset of criminality, its severity and persistence.
Psychometric tests gathered data on individual traits such as memory and attention.
From this data W+T established the following risk factors for criminality. Situational risk-factors included poor parental
nurture, negative role models and a community dominated by anti-social attitudes and drug/alcohol abuse.
Sutherland would state that role models, or "significant others" will be the ones from whom our negative behaviour
is learnt, through either operant conditioning or observation (social learning theory.) Individual risk-factors included
poor moral reasoning, anti-social beliefs and low self-esteem. Kohlberg also identified poor moral reasoning as a
risk-factor for criminality, indicating inter-research reliability between studies.
From this research Wikstom and Tafel conclude that it is both individual and situational factors which will affect
whether we turn to crime. A teenager with poor moral reasoning and a low self-esteem is more likely to turn to crime
if they are subject to socio/cultural risk factors such as negative role models and an anti-social community
environment. They also conclude that there are protective factors which would make is less probable that a teenager
will resort to crime. For example if a child grows up in a positive social environment in which social values are nurtured
and there is community cohesion, they are unlikely to develop criminal behaviour. This suggests that our social
environment will affect whether we turn to crime

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