Anti-Social Behaviour

Anti social behaviour has become increasingly common amongst youths in Britain, the Anti-Social Behaviour Order was introduced in April 1999 to reduce this problem. This stops the young person from going to particular places or doing particular things and can be applied for by the police or a local authority. The order can be used with anyone who is over 10 years of age who is behaving in a manner that causes distress or harassment to someone or some people who do not live in their own household.

Juvenile delinquency has been researched and studied by many sociologists, however I wanted to look at a specific area of anti social behaviour which has, and is becoming a growing problem, this is something I personally have noticed in the area around me. My aim for this investigation is to find out whether the family in which a child grows up in is a major factor in someone engaging in anti social behaviour. In researching this I will be referring back to work studied in sociology, both Family and Crime and Deviance.

This will include handing out questionnaires to assess whether somebody from a low social class, this may include a broken family, are more likely to commit anti social behaviour than someone from a higher economic background. My research is based on a study by Farrington and West (1990) where 411 ‘working class’ males born in 1953 were studied until their late 30’s. The research demonstrated that there were consistent correlations between family traits and offending. In particular, offenders were more likely to come from homes with poor parenting, especially where fathers had criminal convictions.

Furthermore, offenders were also more likely to come from poorer and single parent families. 288 words Context Most criminologists suggest that petty crime is mainly committed by people from low-income families. My contextual data consists primarily of secondary research from a variety of different sources. I have mainly looked at reasons for deviant behaviour because of family background, this includes economic social class and family type, for example single parent families. Capaldi & Patterson (1991) explain that poverty and single parenthood are two of the strongest predictors of children’s antisocial behaviour.

Poor children and children of single parents have a high risk of externalising problems like conduct disorder and hyperactivity. This supports what has been said in my rationale, that people of a lower economic background are more likely to commit anti social behaviour. Emile Durkheim’s theory of anomie explains that when social regulations break down, the controlling influence of society on individual tendency is no longer effective and individuals may start to look after their own selfish interests rather than adhering to social values.

In terms of my coursework in a family situation if there are no specific regulations and rules children may go against the family values and engage in deviant behaviour. Merton developed this theory explaining that anomie is a situation where the socially approved goals of society were not available to a substantial proportion of the population if they followed socially approved means of obtaining these goals, so instead people turn to crime and deviance.

This may be true for someone from a low economic background where they may feel that their goals are restricted because of their financial situation and therefore look to other ways to achieve their goals, this might be through deviant behaviour or crime. It is argued that the absence of a father figure lacks family control of children and deprives boys of a male role model according to BBC news 2002. Miller had a similar theory, he argues that juvenile delinquency on the part of unskilled lower class males comes about because of a lack of a positive male role model who could display economic power through their earning potential.

Hence the distinctive lower- class search for expressions of masculinity, excitement and fun finds expression in law breaking. The belief that nothing can be done to change their situation justifies delinquent behaviour. This relates to my aim because it reveals that crime and anti social behaviour are consequences of working class families and particularly single parent families where there is no male role model.

Wilson and Herrnstein (1985) explore the “causes” of crime arguing that the causes aren’t something the government can do something about, crime is inevitable. However, Wilson argues that people are, more likely to be socialised into acceptable behaviour in their childhood by their family, so certain personality traits, such as ‘impulsiveness’ and ‘lack of regard for others’ come to the forefront. He claims that families that have low intelligence are more likely to be ‘discordant’ and are less likely to socialise their children correctly.

Socialisation is the process where children learn basic norms and values, this relates to my rationale, as people from lower economic families might not be as educated and intelligent to socialise their children in a correct way. 527 words Methodology My chosen research method is questionnaires, I think this is appropriate to my study, as I will need to reach a large number of people to accurately assess whether anti social behaviour is affected by family background, this can be done effectively with the use of questionnaires as they can be easily handed out to masses of people.

Also questionnaires are less time consuming for the researcher and cheap, as no equipment is needed. Through my research I aimed to distinguish and separate youths from middle class backgrounds and to see if those from working class have engaged or witnessed anti social behaviour, to see if economic family background has an influence on a person engaging in anti social behaviour. Social class can be difficult to determine but by respondents stating their parents’ occupation I will then determine whether they would be categorised as working class or middle class.

If it is skilled work requiring some form of qualification, for example teaching, it will be classed as middle class, and if it is a job that requires no formal qualification, it will be classed as working class. I will also determine their class by whether they receive free school meals, as this is how schools assess whether children are from a low-income family. There will also be a list of anti social activities where the participants will have to tick whether they have engaged in any of the activities, or witnessed any in their area.

All of the questions in the questionnaire are based on answering my rationale. Before carrying out my final research, I did a pilot questionnaire and randomly handed them out to 10 participants within my school. From this I noticed that some people found certain questions hard to understand, so I was able to improve the structure of my questionnaire so that the questions were more understandable. Also, people seemed to leave out the question about their parents occupation, this may be because the question was to personal or because it involved them writing it, instead of simply ticking a box.

I have resolved this problem by changing the question so that they tick whether their parent’s occupation is professional or non-professional, or if they are unemployed. I will give examples of professional and non-professional occupations so they are clear of what category they fit into, and it will be based on the highest earning parent. From this I will be able to easily determine whether they are working or middle class. For my actual research I will be selecting 20 participants to fill out my questionnaire using a random sampling technique, where I will randomly select people within my school to fill out my questionnaire.

The questionnaires will be given to students aged between 12 and 18. Given my situation my research is limited, in different circumstances with a larger budget and better participants, I would have contacted a sample of people who had been issued with an anti social behaviour order and conducted in depth structured interviews asking questions about their family background, social class and area which they had grown up in to asses whether family and social class had an impact on them engaging in anti social behaviour. This would have provided in depth qualitative data.

When constructing the questionnaire I used closed questions, where there is clear questions and boxes for answers, to ensure a clear response and detailed analysis, because it produces quantitative information making it easier to group data. I made it relatively short with nine questions, so that participants wont be put off. As the participants will be aged between 12-17 I have been sure to word questions in a clear precise manner so it is easy to understand and I have avoided using leading questions, so that it doesn’t encourage a certain answer.

I am aware of the importance of ethics in any research study, participants will not be required to write their name, as I will be addressing issues surrounding illegal activity, respondent’s are aware that their anonymity is respected so they are more likely to answer honestly. Also as I will be addressing sensitive area such as their family background, I have been sure to word the questions so I do not offend anyone, this was done through my pilot questionnaire and previous research of the structuring of questionnaires.

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