Why Do People Commit Crime

Published 22 May 2017

In times past, researchers have tried to unravel the mystery of people committing crimes. Several schools of thought have been used to explain the reason why people indulge in crime. The classical theory sates that crime is at the prerogative of the individual. It also goes ahead to state that human beings are rational and make decisions freely, with a good understanding of its consequences.

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There is also the biological theory which believes that the major determinants of an individual’s behavior are genetic. It states that the behavior of individuals is genetically determined, with the interaction of nutrition, environment and hormones. In a similar fashion, the psychobiological theory tries to explain the criminal tendency of individuals by linking constitutional defects like chromosomal abnormalities, vitamin deficiencies with genetic makeup of an individual predispose such individuals to criminal tendencies. The sociological theory on the other hand sees the social environment as the case of criminal behavior, with defective family ties, serving as a catalyst to criminal tendencies. With the sociological theory, criminals do not see the good in conforming to the usual norm of obeying the law. They derive satisfaction from breaking the law.

Crime is frequently noticed in teenagers and young people. This stage of life is characterized by a lot of exploration and peer influence. The risky behavior syndrome, whereby young people are under the Illusion that they are invincible and cannot be caught, even if they run into trouble sometimes leads them to commit crimes.

The social class of the individual also contributes a great deal to the criminal tendency of an individual. Crime, like other illegal activities is rampant among people of the lower social strata who claim that they have no other means to make ends meet. They therefore indulge in criminal activities in order to make ends meet.

The masculine gender is also more easily associated with criminal activities than their feminine counterparts. This is also partly due to hormonal effect. Testosterone is a hormone secreted in large amounts by males. This is said to have an effect on their body metabolism in terms of how they metabolites energy substrates. In this vane, they tend to be more physically active than females. This also contributes to their involvement in criminal activities.

The place of race can also be found in the prevalence of crime. Samuel Cartwright, the Italian school and the American schools of thought tried to give different reasons why people involve in crime. A convergent point can be found in the fact that crime is attributed to minority groups, cultures and societies that cohabit with other larger ones. In general terms, as long as a group, race or ethnic group feels disadvantaged in any way, some members of the group indulge in crime, as a backlash behavior to get back at the major one, or in order to forcibly take their own share of resources.

In the global perspective, the disproportionate distribution of crime can also be correlated with the level of income of people in a locality. The dichotomy between developed countries and the developing, and underdeveloped country is also a major issue. Developing countries are characterized by a low per capital income. Coupled with this fact is the general level of security, which is mostly underdeveloped also. A dangerous interplay among all these factors come about: that the crime level in developing countries are by far, more than the ones recorded in so many other developed countries. Also weapon proliferation plays an important part in the prevalence of crime.

In conclusion, different individuals have different motives when they think of crime. Some do indulge in crime in other to make ends meet. Yet other persons involve in crime just because they can get away with it. Some are victims of circumstance while yet others are criminals by choice.


  • Samenow, E. S., Inside the Criminal Mind, (New York: Crown Business, 1984), pgs. 20-22;
  • Jeffery, C. R., Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1971), page 24;
  • Schmalleger, F., Criminology Today – An Integrative Introduction – Fourth Edition, (Upper Saddle River: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2006), page 118-119;
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