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Criminology Case Study

In: Social Issues

Submitted By 321oumie321
Words 1984
Pages 8
Monique McCloskey
SHAY140 Criminology: Theory and Practice:
Assessment 2 ESSAY

Tutor: Patricia Aloi
Student number: 9889000.
03 June 2013

A little girl was two when the physical and sexual abuse commenced at her day care centre in Victoria, Australia. The abuse carried on until she turned four and was perpetrated by a fellow female class mate several months older than her. The victim suffered beatings, being strangled and forced to undress during the yearlong abuse. Sexual assault was perpetrated which included being licked on her body and face as well as having objects used during her ordeal. Severe separation anxiety, nightmares, low self-esteem, difficulty learning and concentrating are regular emotions and reactions experienced by the victim as reported by her mother. A psychologist have examined the victim and found that she is experiencing extremely high anxiety levels.
Due to the age of the alleged attacker the police did not commence an investigation. Research into peer to peer sexual violence has been deficient and there is no clear evidence to determine the prevalence of sexual assault in day care centres or schools.
Child sexual abuse is defined as abuse that take place when an “adult, stronger child or adolescent uses his or her power or authority to involve a child in sexual activity. Sexual abuse can be physical, verbal or emotional”. It is clear by the description of events that sexual abuse occurred. Department of Communities, (2013), Three theories will be discussed explaining the causes of the incident.
Theory I:
Social Learning Theory:
Three concepts make up the core of social learning theory. Psychological condition, observational learning and that all observation and learning does not necessarily lead to learnt behaviors. Albert Bandura proposed the social learning theory which held that direct reinforcement could not explain all types of learning but that by watching people new behaviors could be developed. D., Putwain & A., Sammons, (2002), Psychology and crime. Routeledge, USA. p 46.
By viewing the Bobo doll experiment* it was demonstrated that children watch, learn and copy actions and behaviors they have been exposed to. The alleged offender would have had to observe or experience the same or similar abuse to be able to have the knowledge of the sexual acts and behaviors at such a young age. See NCTSN Sexual development and behavior in children, Table 1 for common sexual behaviors in childhood. At the age of 2 to 4 children are inquisitive and uninhibited about genitals and will touch themselves in public and touch others, ask to see other people naked. It is only at an older age a child becomes aware of the meaning of sex, genitals and behaviors associated with sex and keep it private. The alleged offender was aware to hide the assaults for more than a year which supports the concept that the behavior is a learnt result.
The social learning theory demonstrates that basic reinforcement, being rewarded or experiencing a sense of achievement when inflicting the abuse will influence the motivation to continue the abuse. For motivation of observational learning to be effective the behavior is encouraged by reinforcement and retribution. The alleged attacker may not have had to experience similar abuse but could have watched the abuse occur with retribution and or reinforcement following the experience or witnessing the behavior. Witnessing the reinforcement may be very effective in motivating observational learning.
Observed behaviors does not necessarily eventuate into learnt behaviors, as all children watching violent media does not have violent criminal tendencies. By reproducing the behavior the alleged attacker learnt and improved on her behavior. As the abuse continued over such a long period of time the alleged attacker had ample time to reproduce and increase the sexual assaults (by introducing objects during assaults). It stands to reason to deduct that harmful peers/parents are a key cause of the alleged offenders’ behavior. The alleged attacker continued the assaults for as long as she did as repetition and not being stopped caused the behavior to become chronic as it remained unidentified for a long period of time.
*The children in Bandura’s studies observed an adult acting violently toward a Bobo doll. When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the Bobo doll, they began to imitate the aggressive actions they had previously observed. D., Putwain & A., Sammons, (2002), Psychology and crime. Routeledge, USA. p 46.
The social learning theory is supported by many including Sutherland & Cressey , Sykes & Matza , Akers, Wolfgang & Ferracuti and Anderson and shares some ideas with the differential theory.
Theory II:
Routine Activities
D. W. Osgood, J. K. Wilson, P. M. O'Malley, J. G. Bachman and L D. Johnston,(Aug.,1996) state that in the absence of authority figures and social structure, antisocial and deviant behaviors will flourish. Daycare staff did not identify the abuse occurring thus enabling the assaults to continue for as long as it did. Cohen and Felson also hold that crimes occur when there is an offender who is motivated and a target presents itself. When there is minimal or ineffective guardianship the offense will occur. (F., E.,Hagan, (2013)),The daily routine of daycare attendance hours, unsupervised time and available target ensured the probability of the assaults occurring. In this instance when considering the ages of the victim and alleged offender the daycare staff should be held accountable for the lack of supervision and facilitating the assaults.
Theory III:
Developmental Life Course Theory:
Relationships and behaviours begin early in life (toddlers) and will continue through and determine their adult life. Positive behaviours in adulthood will be predicted by the level a person has learnt to conform to social rules and functions. Completing school, careers, marriage, children follows and these stages should follow on from each other. L., Siegel, (2011),Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 4th ed. 492 pp.
When a person engages in activities that disturb the natural order these steps in life can occur too early and may influence future trajectories in life. When a trauma or negative experience occurs it can cause changes in the person’s behaviour. As discussed in the learnt behaviour theory, the alleged offender have been exposed to negative experiences and abuse which have set in motion behavioural changes. Behavioural responses to physical abuse and psychological trauma will include learning disability, impulsivity, aggression and reduced potential. All of these behaviours will lead to school problems, rejection by peers, low self-esteem and frustration- all of these are directly linked to the cause of antisocial behaviour. The alleged offender has started displaying symptoms of aggression, impulsivity and violence at a young age.
Research have shown that the earlier the onset of anti-social behaviour the more certain the probability the behaviour will continue into adulthood. The alleged victim will certainly need counselling and intensive treatment to establish the cause of her behaviour and plan interventions to prevent ongoing anti-social and criminal behaviour. Constructive experiences may help this very young alleged offender new behaviours and coping techniques to assist in discontinuing from these behaviours.
Research has shown as discussed in L., Siegel, (2011), 492 pp. Chapter topic that a number of delinquent kids with a troubled adolescent life are able to maintain a stable job and relationships which supports behaviours that fit in accepted social norms.Bookmark Title: If this alleged young offender does not seek treatment she may find that antisocial behaviour will haunt her for life.
The victim will require support and counselling along with the alleged offender as they are both very young and these experiences if left untreated will have a great impact on both their lives.

Part 2 of assessment criteria
Rational choice theory
Please see attached articles listed below:
1. C., Kroneberg and F., Kalter, (April 17, 2012) Rational Choice Theory and Empirical Research: Methodological and Theoretical Contributions in Europe. School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, 38:73–92. Doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-071811-145441
2. R., J., Herrnstein, (1990). Rational choice theory: Necessary but not sufficient. American Psychologist, 45(3), 356-367. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.3.356
Rational choice theory originated from classical theory where choosing criminal behaviour is made through rational choices after weighing up the risks and benefits of the behaviour. The theory holds that criminal behaviour will be deterred if the risk to the person is raised and will outweigh its benefits or gains. To increase the risk effort to obtain gain should be raised; punishment should be increased and applied. Indirect or direct education about the risks and benefits can be achieved by observing offenders being caught or being caught and punished for criminal behaviour which should lead to avoiding those behaviours. Stafford & Warr, Cornish & Clarke and Matsueda supported the rational choice theory.

C., Kroneberg and F., Kalter, (April 17, 2012) states that the rational choice theory (RCT) can be empirically tested and replicated in theory-driven research. RCT has been the topic of debate and challenged in the past decades but has continued to be successfully applied during further research and studies. Direct and indirect study results as well as experimental testing results have supported the RCT theory. The article goes on to describe the thorough methodology of testing, which supports the concepts of the theory.

R., J., Herrnstein (1990) states that the theory of rational choice is unable to describe our real behaviours but there is currently no other theories that can adequately describe behaviours which involves the choices we make. People are very aware of the dangers of drug use, smoking, over eating and excessive alcohol use but yet we still make the informed choice to continue these behaviours. Our social surroundings and peers may still play a large role in our perception of the outcome of our behaviours regardless of the perceived or actual outcomes. Herrnstein finds that research does not support the rational choice theory and that people are incapable to make rational choices for themselves. He continues by saying that if people are that bad at making choices (crime statistics, drug and alcohol abuse statistics) that the government should step in and make some of the choices for us. This conclusion is not acceptable as freedom of choice, even if not in our best interest, should be left to individual. Further research and experimentation may be required to fully explore Rational choice theory to fully understand the rational in why we do what we do. An integrated theory approach is the most inclusive approach to fully understand and include the variables in human behaviour and decision making processes.


A., Lowe & R. Wells (3 June 2013) The Age, Victoria, SA, Retrieved on 03/06/2013 from,

C., Kroneberg and F., Kalter, (April 17, 2012) Rational Choice Theory and Empirical Research: Methodological and Theoretical Contributions in Europe. School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, 38:73–92. doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-071811-145441

D., Putwain & A., Sammons, (2002), Psychology and crime. Routeledge, USA. p 46.

D., W., Osgood, J., K. Wilson, P., M. O'Malley, J., G. Bachman & Lloyd D. Johnston,(1996), ROUTINE ACTIVITIES AND INDIVIDUAL DEVIANT BEHAVIOR, American Sociological Review,64:4 pp. 635-655,Article Stable URL:

Department of Communities. Child Safety Services Queensland, Retrieved on 03/06/2013 from
F., E.,Hagan, (2013), Introduction to criminology. Theories, Methods and criminal behaviour. Sage publications USA. 8th ed. P 94

R., J., Herrnstein, (1990). Rational choice theory: Necessary but not sufficient. American Psychologist, 45(3), 356-367. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.3.356

L., Siegel, (2011),Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 4th ed. 492 pp.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Retrieved on 03/06/2013 from

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