Environmental risk factors for criminal behavior 7
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  • 3. Routine ActivitiesTheoryRoutine activities theory is commonly used to explain why and howyouth are at a heightened risk of being involved in offending behavior andof being victimized. Since an individual’s demographics influence theirdaily activities, they are predictive of their risk of victimization.Young unmarried males experience the highest frequency ofvictimization; their nightly activities, then, provide significant support forthe theory, as it is these that take them away from the security of thehome. By being out at night, these youth come into increased contact withoffenders, partake in high-risk behaviors such as drug and alcohol use,participate in delinquent activities themselves, and frequent high-risksituations and areas (Kennedy and Ford, 1990; Lauritsen, Sampson andLaub, 1991). Therefore, as a consequence of their routine activities andlifestyle, they are at a substantially higher risk for victimization. Felson(1997))
  • 4. Existing research points to a powerful connection between residing in anadverse environment and participating in criminal acts (McCord, Widom,and Crowell, 2001). Sociological theories of deviance hypothesize that"disorganized neighborhoods have weak social control networks; that weaksocial control, resulting from isolation among residents and high residentialturnover, allows criminal activity to go unmonitored" (Herrenkohl et al.,2001:221).Although researchers debate the interaction between environmental andpersonal factors, most agree that "living in a neighborhood where there arehigh levels of poverty and crime increases the risk of involvement in seriouscrime for all children growing up there" (McCord, Widom, and Crowell,2001:89)
  • 6. Sociobiological scholars have also drawn a connection between exposure todangerous contaminants – including copper, mercury, chlorine, artificial coloring,food dyes, etc. – and both aggressive and anti-social behavior (see Rappaport, 2004;Ellis, 2005). A great deal of recent research has focused on the possible relationshipbetween lead poisoning and violence.One study, for example, found that communities with the highest concentrationsof lead in the air also reported the highest levels of homicide and other forms ofviolence (Stretesky and Lynch, 2001). A number of studies have also found that leadpoisoning is one of the most significant predictors of male delinquency andpersistent adult criminality (see Denno, 1996; McCall and Land, 2004). Needleman(1996), for example, tracked several hundred boys from ages seven through elevenand found that those with high concentrations of lead in their bones were much morelikely to demonstrate attention deficit problems, poor language skills, delinquency,and aggression. High lead ingestion is also linked to lower IQ scores – a factor thatcan contribute to youth violence (Neisser et al., 1996).
  • 7. In the last three decades, theories of crime have been greatly informed by an influxof thinking that supersedes criminology’s traditionally myopic focus on offenders. MostNotably, the exposure/lifestyle theory (Hindelang et al. 1978), One’s environment canplay a plethora of roles in determining the probability of deviant behavior. The riskfactors are criminal elements and pollution which can have profound effects on one’sbehavior.
  • 8. Chicago Sun timesCohen, L. E., and M. Felson. 1979. Social change and crime rate trends:A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review 44:588–608Drugabuse.govEnvironmental Crime and Justice. Michael J. Lynch, Paul B. StreteskyFelson, Marcus. 2002. Crime and everyday life, 3d ed.Thousand Oaks,CA: SageLilly, J. R., Cullen, F.T. & Ball, R. A. (2011). Criminological Theory:Context and consequences (5th Ed.).Washington DC: SageRisk Factors for Delinquency: An Overview Michael ShaderWortley, Richard, and Lorraine Mazzerole, eds. 2008. Environmentalcriminology and crime analysis. Cullompton, UK: WillanReferences: