Criminal Behavioral Psychology, Uncategorized

Risk Factors Predictive of Criminal Behavior

As each individual follows a developmental pathway, individuals identify with certain risk factors that may predict potential behavior (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Early identification of risk factors helps improve intervention and prevention potential in regards to delinquent and criminal behavior (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  According to the U.  S.  Department of Justice, the identification of risk factors within an individual predicts the probability that the individual maintains potential for offending (Shader).  Additionally, risk factors impact varies among individuals, there is a cumulative effect among multiple risk factors, many disorder share risk factors causing a dysfunction between the risks and disorders (Shader).

Social risk factors include poverty and limited resources, antisocial peers, peer rejection, preschool or school experiences (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Poverty in childhood can lead to hindrances among stages of development in which an earlier hindrance can lead to a hindrance later in life (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Research implicates poverty as a predictor for male and female adolescent violence as well as youth victimization (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Due to the influential poverty co-factors, the relationship of violence and poverty is not exact in the sense that the effects of poverty such as inadequate living conditions and material possession strain familial and social relationships which may result in victimization, witnessing negative experience, or even exhibiting negative reactions (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  This is not to say poverty leads to offending or criminal behavior, rather the effects are predictors of potential behavior (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Law enforcement tends to target impoverished communities and children of these impoverished communities are often taken into the system and joined with others who promote delinquent behavior as a form of treatment (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  The text provided a contrast of the impoverished versus the middle and upper class communities.  Those who can afford proper representation and the “better effects” in life tend to receive more adequate accommodations that hold promise in rehabilitating the negative behaviors (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).

Familial risk factors include faulty or inadequate parenting, sibling influences, and child maltreatment or abuse (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  According to the U.  S.  Department of Justice, family structure (parenting skills, size, home discord, treatment of children, and antisocial parents) is linked with juvenile offending (Shader).  A study indicated predictors of violent offending including harsh discipline, lack of supervision from parents, and parental conflict and aggression within the home (Shader).  Children who witness violence in the home may suffer direct or indirect effects that may impact them immediately or even surface later in life.  Effects may include cognitive deficits, anxiety, or even development of the aggressive behavior witnessed or experienced.  This creates a cycle of violence that may pass through the future ties of the family.  As the child witnesses or experiences the violence, he or she may exhibit the same behavior in an effort to inflict power and control over situation or circumstance or as a coping strategy to deal with stress.  The coping of life through aggression and / or violence may lead to future offenses. Single parent households and households containing several siblings also indicate increased risk of criminal or violent behavior (Shader).

Psychological risk factors include inadequate cognitive or language ability, inadequate self-regulation skills, poor interpersonal and social skills (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Psychological risk factors are more biologically based than social or familial risk factors as these define the biological aspects development and personality (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Empathy is a psychological risk factor that refers to the emotional response to another’s feelings and the perception and understanding of an individual’s feelings (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  A deficiency in empathy is indicative of aggressive and antisocial personalities which may lead to violent behavior and future offending (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Studies indicate animal cruelty tends to lead to serious violent behavior later in life (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Antisocial behavior is linked with cognitive and language difficulties as well as conduct disorders that increase the risk of aggressive or violent behavior as well (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).

It seems like all risk factors are able to be remedied.  For instance, we have learned that our initial learning comes from our familial environment as this is where learning first takes place.  Creating a positive, calm, environment that promotes proper discipline and direction will reduce the chance of social deficits as the individual has learned how to develop positive relationships and functioning social skills.  As a result of this, psychological risk factors decrease, well, I think they would because the deficits in familial and social factors cause a hindrance to the psyche that creates the motivations and drives of behavior.  According to the text, reducing coercive family interaction have proven beneficial to the social and psychological development of children (Bartol & Bartol, 2014).  Research often times traces offending behaviors back to childhood and early adolescence (Bartol & Bartol, 2014) indicating intervention early on can adapt behaviors from unacceptable and potentially damaging to acceptable and positive.


Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2014). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach (10th ed.). Retrieved from!/4/2/16/42@0:17.4.

Shader, M. U. S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from


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