Lets Talk About It

Why do some people become criminals?

One night in 2001, 21 years ago, I could not go to sleep. My heart was torn with the serious increase of crime in our beautiful, peaceful country. It was that night I composed a very long poem titled, “Why stop the crime?” The poem would take its reader through the long history of crime in our country. From shipwrecking, bootlegging (rum-running) to drug pushing, and much more. The following are the three closing stanzas of the poem:

“What profits would we gain by stopping the crime when we have gained so much from it all the time?

Why think of pain, loneliness, and fear?

Why think of the tragedy our children bear?

Why think of life loss if life isn’t much?

Why think of dysfunctional families if family isn’t much?

“Could it be that we were poisoned through generation in time

By the greed and lust of power-hungry minds?

What is the antidote to the poison of passivity and greed?

It must be a mental metamorphosis to take the lead.

“If we continue to be poised by the greed for power,

Our nation will die and we would not even realize it’s a goner;

Because a crime isn’t a crime to the unchanged mind,

Unless there is a re-creation of our lives and minds.

Then, and only then, will we find the power to stop the crime.”

Nineteenth century writer, Henry Thomas Buckle, who penned the “History of Civilization in England”, wrote these profound words: “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it.” This is true because it is my view that the environment in which one lives impacts one’s lifestyle. Although not everyone is influenced the same way and will become a criminal, far too many become victims of a sick society. On the other hand, human beings are created with the ability to choose – hence, no one is forced to become a criminal. It is a choice one makes. I will share with you the views of online writers Talija and Darius, which I believe correspond with my own observations and beliefs about why some people become criminals. Read carefully the nine points.

Little or no love:
Musicians Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote this beautiful song in 1965, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” It speaks directly to the central problem in society. Living in a dysfunctional family or a disadvantaged environment does not cause crime. According to one author, these factors can cause the lack of love, respect, and tolerance for others. When there is lack of love, respect, and tolerance, combined with other factors, a lifestyle of criminal activities can be created.

Poor judgment:
Writers Talija and Darius state, “Lack of proper education and great role models cause many to fail to distinguish right from wrong. In most cases, offenders don’t think they are doing something wrong. It seems right from their point of view. Poor judgment is also reflected in knowing it’s wrong but, thinking they could get away with it, not getting caught.”

Poverty is often blamed for leading to crime, however, underneath is something more vital – society bombards us with commercial values, making us want more and more material things, to the point that some would do anything (including criminal acts) to get them. Unemployment is another factor in this category that contributes to crime through looking at ways to earn money by any means possible. For decades, many agencies and institutions, including the United Nations, have researched the impact of poverty on crime and have found this statement to be true.

Television violence:
Christian writer Josh McDowell has documented from as early as the 1980s the impact of the media on social behavior and published his findings in his book “Why Wait” the impact of television on the lives of individuals. Many individuals and institutions around the world have published articles about the impact of television on the mind, especially on the mind of the very young and the youth.

Poor parenting skills:
I have been writing about this point for almost two decades. In my articles, “Rules without Relationship Breeds Chaos”, I share how a misunderstanding of discipline contributes to so much pain and violence in so many families. Talija and Darius state, “Erratic or harsh discipline, lack of parental control, supervision and monitoring, parental conflict, family dysfunction/breakdown, criminal, anti-social and/or alcoholic parent/s, fatherlessness are underestimated causes of crime.”

Being a victim in a chain of events:
“Sometimes individuals don’t mean to cause harm, but are drawn into it by a chain of events that are beyond their control or influence.” This is not being stated as an excuse but as a factor for individuals, especially those who have been raised in dysfunctional homes and have not developed a disciplined lifestyle.

Deprived neighborhoods:
Talija and Darius write, “Economically impoverished neighborhoods breed criminal minds.” This seems to be painfully true, although not in every case because other factors are usually involved that influence criminal behavior.

“It has long been known by police officers that cold winter nights keep criminals off the streets and crime levels down. Crime scientists speculate that one of the hidden consequences of global warming will be an increase in street crime during mild winters. Studies have suggested that warmer temperatures boost aggression hormones such as epinephrine and testosterone.”

Could this be true in The Bahamas and the Caribbean?

Christian readers may appreciate this reason. Often, there seems to be no reason some people act so violently. The only answer is that this is an evil world and that evil doers are being influenced to do wrong by the “evil one”. These risk factors should cause us to pause and think and can help us find ways to prevent and reduce criminal activity.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to
question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-19809 or visit www.soencouragement.org. 

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