Article Critique



Variousfactors in the environment that individuals live in can contribute tofelony. Learningto be bad: Adverse Social Conditions, Social Schemas, and Crime,by Ronald L. Simons and Callie Harbin Burt discusses the factors thatcontribute to crime in the society The article examines whether thereare connections between social factors and behaviors of individualsin a community.

Descriptionof the Research Problem

Theauthors theorize that there is a relationship between individualoffending and social factors. They assert that in a seeminglydisparate community, peer and family situations cause crime. Theydevelop the argument since the lessons presented by such situationspromote social schemas that involve a hostile perception ofindividuals and relationships. Additionally, the authors outline thatthe three schemas combine to generate a criminogenic knowledge designthat leads to the emergence of situational interpretations thatlegitimize criminal actions (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).Although the relationship between poverty and crime is usually high,the authors seem biased towards disenfranchised communities. Whenintroducing the problem, they fail to provide a neutral statement forcrime in the society. The rationale for this observation is thatcrime exists in any community whether affluent or poor and the onlydifference is the nature and frequency of the felonies.


Theauthors used a quantitative approach in their attempt to supporttheir thesis. The collection of data was through open-endedquestionnaires (Simons,&amp Burt, 2011).The methodology was quantitative in nature and the authors made useFACHS, that is, Family and Community Health Study. The tool is usedin a multi-site to conduct investigation on neighborhood and familyissues that contribute to children’s developments under variouscommunity settings. They recruited sample members from neighborhoods,interviewed them and recorded their economic levels in percentage(Simons&amp Burt, 2011).The two also recorded the percentage of the families in thatcommunity that were living below the poverty line.

InGeorgia, for instance, families were picked from thirty-six censustracts in metropolitan regions like South Atlanta, Southeast Atlanta,and East Atlanta. The regions were preferred because they had varyingeconomic status as well as ethnic composition (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).The identified research sites were drawn randomly, and therespondents were contacted to confirm their willingness toparticipate.

Thefirst wave of data was gathered in 1997 and included 897 youngpeople. For the authors to capture the required information, theyconducted the second, the third and the fourth waves of data from1999-2000, 2001-2002, and 2004-2005 so that the children they hadtargeted would be of ages 12-13, 14-15 years and 17-18 yearsrespectively (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).The authors concentrated on the latter three waves due the fact thatit was the period of escalating tempo of delinquency as well aspolice contact.

Uponapplying the research methods, the authors utilized some informationfrom another study,Discrimination,Crime, Ethnic Identity, and Parenting as Correlates of Depressivesymptoms among African American children: A Multilevel Analysis,done byMurryet al. (2012) and TheSocial Consequences of Growing up in a Poor Neighborhoodby Jencks and Mayer (2012). They relied on them since they alsocovered a significant number of years.Using a detailed approach, the authors made use of research, surveysand did comparisons with other relevant empirical studies (Neuman&amp Robson, 2012).

Despiteabsence of visible errors in Simonsand Burt’swork, it is not possible to rule out the possibility of someinconsistencies in the studies done by others. However, themethodology is plausible since the authors conducted the study overseveral years and they observed the behavior of children before andafter they gained contact with the external environment. Therecruitment of the right participants also serves to strengthen theresults of a research(Polit &amp Beck, 2013). Theauthors they targeted adolescent children who are active andsusceptible to the development of felonious behaviors.

Evidencein support of the thesis

Theevidence provided by the authors to support their thesis iscomparative, equivocal, strong and properly applied. The two made useof some longitudinal studies as well as data to prove and supportthat the three social schemas, that is family, peer and thecommunity, influences an individual to any form of criminal activity(Neuman&amp Robson, 2012).During the exercise, the authors undertook surveys, developed theirresults and evaluated findings of other studies to generatecomparative and supportive information.

Theresults of the studied effects as well as causes are identifiable.They are presented in a manner that a basic reader would comprehend(Neuman&amp Robson, 2012).For example, the authors’ findings showed that extensive exposureto extreme conditions like community crime, deviant peers, harshparenting and discrimination increased some commitments to thehighlighted social schemas. The authors share similar sentiments withFergussonet al. (2014) that thereis a correlation between them that creates a latent construct thathighly predict the eruption of criminal activities.

Contributionto Literature

Thethesis is well illustrated and proven via research, data, survey andrelationship to other sources. In addition to the article being wellpresented, its findings have been buttressed with other supportinginformation which might include the following to back up the thesis.It constitutes an array of vital information and some scientificstudies supporting the thesis of the paper. The article cites some ofthe probability of the situational definitions that favor theoccurrence of criminal activities. It incorporates the interplay ofsocietal factors in a given context (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).The results in this article show that adolescents and childhoodsocial adversity promotes criminogenic idea structure. It alsocultivates risky behaviors that elevate the likelihood of committingoffenses.

Inaddition, the article is contributive to criminology literature sinceit presents some evidence that family issues like instability,financial hardships, and discrimination contribute to felonies.According to the authors, members of a family can propagatedistrustful relational schemas which may lead to childrendisregarding the law. Scholars can borrow from the findings andderive the relationship that nature of community and the presentcriminal behaviors (Landor et al., 2012). The authors share similarsentiments with Lindblad et al. (2013), who believe that there is acorrelation between crime and the collective efficacy ofneighborhoods. The article could be used by social scientists tounderstand the crime dynamics in a community. Critical findings showthat social benefits, foreclosure catastrophes ignite various querieson the role of neighborhoods in nurturing crime (Lindbladet al., 2013).

Discussionand Conclusion

Theauthors agree that criminals are likely to view their actions asacceptable given the nature of the community in which they live. Thefactors that contribute to delinquency lead to them having aperception that their conduct is necessary for survival. In childrenand adolescents, the motives to crime include revenge, approvalsyndrome and peer pressure. The authors are categorical thatdisenfranchised communities record high rates of crime since thefrequency of offenses is directly related to the number of thecontributing factors (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).The discussion also illustrates that certain attributes associatedwith neighborhoods including discrimination, crime, drugs and poorhousing make children susceptible to delinquency.

Thearticle concludes that social factors can explain the criminogenicknowledge. The schematic framework proposed in the study can beapplied to provide a conventional way of theoretical integration.However, the authors are skeptical that although empirical supporthas backed the dominant theoretical presentations, they only explaina small amount of the variance in criminal behavior (Simons&amp Burt, 2011).They also recommend further research on the relationship betweenother societal factors with crime.

Critiqueof the Article and Recommendations

Theapproach used by the authors offers a framework for uniting variousconcepts central to the relationship between crime and the societalpractices. The article is strong in defining and exploring theargument and supporting it with data collected over several years(Simons&amp Burt, 2011). Another strong aspect of the article is that it avoids the use ofjargons and complicated methodologies. The results are understandableto a reader and van be used by different individuals working in thefield of criminology.

Inaddition, the conclusion is arrived at by involving a big number ofparticipants. This makes the discussions and findings reliable. In anempirical study, the sample should be a true representation of thepopulation under inquiry(Wester et al., 2013).Its size is, therefore, a primary consideration and it is arrived atusing various scientific formulas. According to Neuman&amp Robson, (2012),the evidence in an empirical study becomes strong through thecollection of data from a sizeable sample that represents thecharacteristics of the targeted population. Deducing relevantinformation from other studies also makes a study credible andcontributive to the literature of a given field(David Shaw, 2013).

However,there are some weaknesses associated with this article. There couldbe some errors since the authors relied on research done by otherpeople. The researchers in the secondary works might have donemistakes while collecting data or while analyzing it. Also relying ona multitude of sources might increase chances of errors (Neuman&amp Robson, 2012).

Anotherlimitation of the research is the fact that some perpetrators fromthe region especially the children, would claim that their criminalactivities are acceptable and legitimate given the prevailingsituations, hence most of them did not classify them as bad behaviors(Simons &amp Burt, 2011).The offenders would consider them as sensible, inevitable andnecessary. Nevertheless, such weaknesses are eliminated in theprevious studies conducted study through utilizing prospective,longitudinal information from a community-based model.

Iwould recommend that more information be added to the articleregarding the correlation of the social schemas and crime. Theresearch is applicable in different settings since the authorsengaged a big number of participants. The discussion presented afterthe research would benefit scholars as well as tutors in criminologydepartment, law enforcers, and parents in addressing delinquency.Applying evidence-based practices would be instrumental in curbingcriminal activities and assist the relevant authorities in dealingwith potential culprits.


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