Into a Criminal’s Mind: What Triggers This Type of Behavior?

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Cornell Law School defined crime as a behavior made punishable by the law. This involves behaviors that are inherently ethically “bad” and behaviors prohibited by the law due to their nature of obstructing social workings. Unfortunately, crime is an inevitable part of human society.

We will find that some people are more inclined to a life of crime more than others but the important question is “why?”. As flawed beings, we are influenced by many different things throughout our lives that build us into who we are today. So there must be overlapping factors that can show how someone turns to criminal activity.

With this, we can make a list of things that propagate the workings of a criminal. It is important to understand that a lot of times, these factors are not the main causes, but rather, only contribute to why a crime is committed. Knowing these contributing factors may help society as a whole to prevent more crimes from happening.


Poverty contributes largely to why some people turn to crime. Being deprived of access to many rights and privileges can push an individual to great lengths, even when punishment is due, to achieve a better level of comfort. In line with this, poverty overlaps and intersects with many of the other factors to be mentioned. Having wealth can provide the immediate needs and resources for one’s well-being while poverty can encourage the use of force to provide for one’s self.

This is probably one of the greatest factors to why people commit crimes due to the poverty cycle where poor people tend to stay poor because they lack the resources and, therefore, cannot create opportunities to pull themselves out of their situation.

Lack of Education

Education, rather the lack thereof, is linked to crime rates. There is no direct connection that proves how education can turn people away from crime. But some studies look at the benefits of education in preventing crimes using the idea that achieving higher levels of formal schooling can reinforce generally positive attitudes and behaviors. This contrasts with how individuals with incomplete or no education are roaming aimlessly and using their energy on less than productive activities.


The unemployed and those who earn very little are more likely to engage in crimes. Employed individuals are earning for their needs and are often preoccupied with their tasks which can mean that they have less time to plan and commit a crime. The unemployed and underpaid, on the other hand, have more reasons to break the law because of the lack of resources and unfair pay grades.

Substance Abuse

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Alcohol and drug abuse/ misuse certainly link to criminal acts. It is a fact that alcohol and drugs, in large doses or under improper usage, can cloud one’s judgment. It can lower one’s reaction time, which can lead to driving accidents, and also increase aggression, which can lead to more serious violent crimes where a criminal defense attorney is needed.

Poor Environment and Social Groups

The kind of environment one grows up in does influence the kind of person one becomes. Neighborhoods with high crime rates can increase the likelihood of their residents resorting to criminal acts. Apart from peer pressure, constant socialization with people who are inclined to engage in crimes can also influence someone who initially never considered it.

Bad Childhood Experiences

One’s upbringing influences one’s perspective in life. The role of a family is to help each member to grow into individuals that can contribute well to society. But being brought up in a negative home situation that involves dysfunctional family settings, maltreatment, violence, and/ or child neglect can lead a person to delinquency and a life of crime. Bad parenting also comes into play when parents fail to teach their children important moral values like respect, kindness, and compassion which can help turn them away from breaking the law.

Knowing these factors that can contribute to an inclination to crime, we can become more aware of how we should navigate this modern world. To some, it can mean that we should avoid over-drinking and using drugs improperly. To others, it can say that we should become open and caring parents to our children so that they feel loved and grow into law-abiding citizens. Or it can mean that we should find our own little way to help in slowly eradicating poverty from our country, may it be donating to charities, reducing our carbon footprints, raising social awareness, or fighting inequality.

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