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Discussion of Whether a Criminal is Born Or Made

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The statement ‘A criminal is ‘Born’ and not made’ is suggesting the idea that a person’s birth decides whether they will be a criminal without any other deciding factors. It takes away the idea that environmental factors have anything to do with a criminal’s pathway in life. In this essay there will be different views and opinions on crime from a Marxism and functionalist approach, It will look at the biological factors of crime and how they affect people including different studies and then how these are demonstrated in the media. Crime is an action or activity that violates law set in place by government legislation, it is the violation of any law that can result in injury to a person or persons of the public. Committing a crime can result in two common forms of punishment such as fines or a prison sentence. Deviance can be a behaviour that does not violate an official law but is considered not normal, it is normally when someone strays away from the social norm especially in a social or sexual way and will mostly result in no more than disapproval from other members of society. 

Firstly, the approach of Marxism is a very early look into crime it was first developed by Bonger in 1916 and expanded upon by writers such as Chambliss in 1975. This group of people believe that crime is a response to capitalism and that capitalism itself is a crime. Marxism states that crime is decided by the upper class to benefit them and keep the majority in control, it references crime and deviance as a response to fight back against the upper class however they say that the common person doesn’t know that is what they are doing. (Stephen Moore 2016). This view is a very biased look at the so-called class war in society the idea that the upper class is out to get the middle class and that the rules are different for each class. It implies the idea that crime is punished more highly in the middle class while the upper class can get away with more serious crimes. The next view is functionalism; this is a range of theories none of which have any hard evidence or research backing them. They come from a man named Durkheim and he believes that crime is an essential part of society. He theorises that crime is an important and a healthy part of society and a driving force for social change, he states that the only time it becomes a problem for society is when crime rates are unusually high or too low. His theories suggest that high crime and deviance leads to chaos meanwhile low crime and deviance leads to no change. While this theory could be considered more accurate than the Marxism point of view it is also highly debateable as not all crime and deviance can be used for social change such as rape you can’t ever justify that to a victim and murder is also never a good thing, so to say crime is healthy can be insensitive and unjustified. 

The biological approach to crime is a view that narrowly suggests crime can all be explained through looking at genes, hormones, and chemicals in your body. The main assumptions of the biological approach are that any number of biological and biochemical factors that you inherit from birth can lead to you committing a crime, such as genetics, neurotransmitters and hormones (Newburn 2007). Crime can be shared through genetics, there have been many study’s over that past few decades testing the impact of biological factors in criminals one of the more known is the twin studies one of the most sophisticated versions of this studies was carried out in Denmark by Karl O Christiansen in 1974, he took 3,586 pairs of twins between the years 1881 and 1910 and monitored them. Through his research he found that 50% of MZ (monozygotic) twin would both be criminal if one twin partook in criminal activity while in DZ (dizygotic) twins only 20% would both partake in crime if the other twin was involved (Newburn 2007, page 135). While these results on the surface defiantly show some correlation to the argument crime is born it also has to many variables that can conflict such as they both grew up together, so their social life could have made them both criminal or the influence of one twin could impact the other rather than it being simply in their genes. Christiansen himself admitted that this study was inconclusive as it was impossible to rule out other factors, also if crime was 100% made and caused by your biology then these results should show that in MZ twin if one is criminal both should always be criminal as they share the exact same genes. 

Another biological factor to look at is hormones it has been often assumed that testosterone is a cause of higher aggression and violent activity explaining why there are more male criminals than female. There was research conducted which found a correlation between high levels of testosterone and criminal violent offences. The research consisted of over 4,00 males from the military and found that there is a link between testosterone and criminal offences however when they controlled this experiment and allowed for social factors the numbers lowered noticeably. Other research has also linked abnormal high levels of testosterone in male sex offenders although there are often other variables involved. These studies and research confirm that there is a relation to some biological factors how likely you are to become a criminal however it does not prove that all criminals are made as if this was the case the results would need to show that social and environmental factors did not alter the likelihood of males with high testosterone into becoming criminals as if it was simply in the hormone you would not be able to alter that socially. 

The news/media likes to portray crime to be mostly born and not made supporting the statement above, most articles are all about chemical fixes such as these, two separate examples of chemical castration one case a man who was having violent fantasies of rape and murder volunteered to get himself chemically castrated and another where they talk about in Russia and other places it is mandatory for convicted paedophiles to be chemically castrated, they do this because it lowers the chance of them reoffending. The fact it lowers the chance of the reoffending shows a strong supporting argument for the born argument of this debate however it is not complete confirmation that it is all biological as it only lowers the chance of reoffending not eradicating it completely proving even after the hormones supposedly causing it are gone in some the nature is still there to do it again. On the other side there are some story’s that back the nurture side of this debate such as the article by Bethan Bell where she concludes that most child killers are created by bad childhoods, neglect and even fear, the evidence in this case shows that nurture is a big part if not the main reason why children become killers so this is more evidence on how killers cannot simply be born. 

In conclusion I have found out while crime has some definitive links to biology there is simply not any conformation beyond reasonable doubt that it is the only supplying factor in creating a criminal. While looking at some of these studies and there results it seems almost unavoidable that all biological factors are still influenced by social factors, this alone proves that a criminal cannot just simply be born or at least not in every case. In my opinion it is unarguable that crime is not merely created by either one of these factors rather a combination of the both. After reading some of the different views such as Marxism and functionalism is seems to me that when you look at crime it is important to get a wide range of views rather than just picking ne as if you do this you are limiting yourself to one sometimes bias perspective and you can’t formulate a accurate or detailed picture, to me this is why it is important to gather evidence and research from different areas before formulating and answer.

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