Deviant Behavior


A person would be considered to be acting deviantly in society if they are violating what the significant social norm in that particular culture is. What causes humans to act certain ways is a disputed topic among researchers for some time now. There are three types of researchers that have tried to answer this question. There is the psychological answer, biological answer, and the sociological answer. With all of the studies that have been performed, no one group has come up with an exact reason to why people behave deviantly. Although, sociologists' theories have not been disproved as often as the psychologists' and biologists' theories because their experiments are too hard to define and no one definition for deviance is agreed upon by all experimenters (Pfuhl, 40). My own curiosity to find out what the influences are behind deviant behavior is the purpose for this paper. We have already discussed this topic during class in part two, chapter four of the textbook which explains deviance and crime. This section talks more about deviance being a learned behavior. I wanted to find out more information to see if biological factors are also behind this kind of behavior. The most knowledge acquired for why people act deviantly is from the sociological perspective. There is need for more research, if possible, in the psychological and biological perspectives, but there is a lot more known in the sociological viewpoint. The reality that the definition of deviant behavior is considered different by everyone makes it complicated and unknown if a truly accurate answer can ever be found (Pfuhl 18). This is why this topic is important to the study of sociology. Sociologists have more information, and therefore may be closer to finding the cause. For this reason, my main focus in this paper is at the sociological stand point of deviance with some explanations from psychologists and biologists.
The family is the link to socialization in one's environment (Four Categories 1). In the family, divorce, conflict within family, neglect, abuse, and deviant parents are the main vindicates for the offspring's actions. Early researches first only thought parental absence affects girls and whites. Modern research finds that the lack of supervision, or support a child needs is a link to delinquency in any race. It occurs more in single parent homes because they have a harder time doing those things. Poverty is also a reason in the family for conflict because it can lead to both family breakups and delinquency. Children need close, supportive, relationships with parents. What promotes deviance in the home is the inhibition to talk to parents. The child may feel that they need to get attention elsewhere, thus acting deviantly if their parents are not there for them. Parents can prevent this by being competent, non-punitive (to a point), non-aggressive or violent, and teach their child high self-confidence.
Family conflict has more damaging effects on children than divorce. Where as parental death has less impact than divorce (Four Categories 2). When a parent dies a child at least knows that the parent did not want to leave on his own terms and probably also did not inflict any abuse to his or her psyche before the parent passes away. Also, if a child still has contact with both parents after a divorce, the less likely they will feel neglected and react deviantly. Family size also leaves an adolescent without the necessary attention they need as an individual. Middle children are more likely to behave deviantly because they go unnoticed more than their younger or older siblings.
The legal definitions of abuse and neglect varies from state to state but does, in any form, create serious consequences for behavior. It occurs in patterns and not just once, which causes stress, poor self-esteem, aggressiveness, lack of empathy, and fewer interactions with peers. Child abuse is any physical or emotional trauma to a child for which no reasonable explanation is found. Neglect refers to the deprivation that children suffer at the hands of parents (Devinace 1). Such components that comply to these definitions are non-accidental physical injury and neglect, emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, and abandonment. Over one million of the youth in America are subjected to abuse a year. In terms of sexual abuse one in