Social control theory is a criminology theory that explains how society influences the behavior of individuals. It suggests that individuals who feel connected to society and have strong social bonds are less likely to engage in criminal behavior.

This theory applies to juveniles as they are in a stage of development where they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and external factors that can influence their behavior. In this article, we will explore the application of social control theory to juveniles.

What is Social Control Theory?

Social control theory asserts that humans are inherently selfish and inclined towards deviant behavior. However, social institutions such as family, school, religion, and community have the power to regulate these impulses and promote conformity through the establishment of rules and norms. These social bonds work as a form of “social control” that prevents individuals from engaging in criminal behavior.

The Four Elements of Social Bonding

Hirschi’s Social Control Theory identifies four elements that make up social bonding: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief.

Attachment: Attachment refers to the emotional connections an individual has with others in their life. Juveniles who have strong emotional ties with their parents or caregivers are less likely to engage in deviant behavior.

Commitment: Commitment refers to an individual’s investment in conventional activities such as education or employment. Juveniles who have a strong commitment to these activities are less likely to engage in criminal activity.

Involvement: Involvement refers to the amount of time an individual spends engaging in conventional activities rather than deviant ones. Juveniles who have active involvement in positive activities such as sports or clubs are less likely to engage in criminal activity.

Belief: Belief refers to an individual’s acceptance of societal values and norms. Juveniles who believe that crime is wrong and immoral are less likely to engage in criminal activity.

The Role of External Factors in Social Control Theory

Social control theory also recognizes that external factors such as poverty, lack of education, and poor living conditions can weaken social bonds and increase the likelihood of deviant behavior. Juveniles who live in high-crime areas or have limited access to resources may be more likely to engage in criminal activity.

Application of Social Control Theory to Juveniles

Juveniles are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and external influences that can affect their behavior. Social control theory suggests that positive social bonds can prevent juveniles from engaging in deviant behavior. Parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches, and community leaders can all play a role in strengthening social bonds for juveniles.

Attachment: Parents and caregivers should develop strong emotional connections with their children by providing love, support, and guidance. They should encourage open communication and create a positive home environment that fosters trust and respect.

Commitment: Juveniles should be encouraged to pursue education or employment opportunities that align with their interests. This will help them develop a sense of purpose and direction that can prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior.

Involvement: Juveniles should be provided with opportunities to participate in positive activities such as sports teams or after-school programs. These activities will keep them busy and engaged while promoting teamwork, discipline, and responsibility.

Belief: Parents, caregivers, teachers, and community leaders should promote values such as honesty, respect for others, and responsibility. They should also discourage negative attitudes towards crime by emphasizing the consequences of criminal behavior on both the individual and society as a whole.

Conclusion

Social control theory provides valuable insights into how society influences human behavior. By strengthening social bonds through attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief, juveniles can be prevented from engaging in criminal behavior.

Parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches, and community leaders all play a crucial role in promoting positive social bonds for juveniles. Through these efforts, we can create a safer and more just society for all.