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Biological and psychological theories on juvenile offenders

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Due to the nature of juvenile delinquency, the problem of the personality is put first in the study of this phenomenon. A juvenile offender does not become so suddenly, at the time of the commission of a crime. As a rule, the antisocial properties of his personality are formed gradually and long before the commission of a crime, which gives rise to a qualitative new socio-legal assessment of his personality as a juvenile offender. In other words, in the commission of each crime, firstly, there is motivation, and then the crime is planned and executed. Therefore, as the main system-forming elements of the crime are the properties of the individual and the external environment, that is, the social conditions of life. The causes of crime are analyzed by representatives of many sciences — lawyers, sociologists, psychologists, economists and even biologists. However, they do not provide an exhaustive explanation for all crimes. Let us consider then the discussion of biological and psychological theories on juvenile offenders.

  • Biological theory.
  • The first attempts to explain the crimes were mostly of a biological nature — the scientists were looking for naturally conditioned reasons for the propensity of some people to commit crimes. Italian criminalist Cesare Lombroso in the 1870s concluded that some people are born with criminal inclinations. In his view, criminal types can be defined by the shape of the skull. Lombroso did not deny the influence of society on the development of criminal behavior but believed that most criminals are biologically degenerate. Subsequently, ideas about the biological predisposition to the crime were sharply criticized. In the second half of the 20th century. Attempts were made to link criminal inclinations with a certain set of chromosomes in the genetic code. It was suggested that among the criminals committing serious crimes, the proportion of people with an additional Y chromosome is disproportionately high. In a number of studies conducted in high-security prisons, a result was obtained showing that this deviation was one in hundreds of prisoners, compared to one person per thousand for the ordinary population. However, soon the researchers had a hunch that this result is due to the small sample size. Studies on larger population arrays have shown that men with an unconventional set of chromosomes are no more likely to commit violent acts than with a normal set.

  • Psychological theory.
  • Psychological theories of crime, like biological, connect criminal inclinations with a certain type of personality. In the 20th century, some psychologists, relying on the ideas of Sigmund Freud, suggested that a small number of people develop an “immoral”, or psychopathic personality. According to Freud, most of our moral qualities come from self-restraint, which we learn in early childhood. Due to the special nature of the relationship with parents, some children do not develop such self-restrictions, and, accordingly, there is no basic sense of morality. Psychopaths can be described as self-contained people who enjoy pleasure in violence as such. Psychological theories of crime have, in contrast to biological, a rational grain. However, at best they can explain only some aspects of crimes. Although an insignificant minority of criminals do have personal characteristics that are different from the rest of the population, such characteristics are not inherent in all violators of the law.

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