Child Development Leads to Criminal Behavior


Child development is the process of maturation of children physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally.  The interaction of biological and environmental factors greatly influences child development.  The environment affects the child development process profoundly.  Children development determines and shapes the children’s character (Newman & Newman, 2014).  Mostly, children brought up in an environment with emotional instability are more likely to develop negative traits as compared to the kids brought up in an environment with emotional stability.  Family stability supports the healthy development of children.  Nurturing parents encourage the positive development of their children while neglectful parent encourages the development of anti-social behavior.

Emotional and Social Instability

Emotional development entails understanding one’s feelings and emotions along with controlling emotions.  As children grow up emotionally, they learn to empathize with others and are able to develop and sustain healthy relationships.  Social development entails the ability to express one and associating positively with others.  During infancy, the children express their feelings through various ways such as crying.  Later on, as they grow up, the children learn better ways of self-expression (Horn, Ruck & Liben, 2016).  They are able to communicate their feelings effectively and become aware of other people’s emotions.  The children learn from their family members, peers, teachers and the community.  Emotional and social stability determines the personality of the children in future.

Emotional intelligence has been associated with criminal activities.  Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions.  Children who lack emotional intelligence are unable to achieve their desired goal.  They lack interpersonal awareness thus they do not understand their own emotions.  Moreover, they lack the ability to manage their emotions and other people’s emotions.  Children with low emotion intelligence are aggressive and offensive.  As they grow up, they encounter problems in solving social problems and are often involved in assault and theft.  In addition, psychological disorders are associated with criminal activities.  Children with antisocial personality are more likely to get involved in criminal activities in future.  Psychological disorders affect male more than females (Bergman & Andersson, 2015).  In addition, children with conduct disorders are prone to bullying, physical fights, cruelty to animals and assaults.  The children get involved in criminal and violent activities later on in their lives.

Social instability also influences the engagement of children in criminal activities in their adulthood.  Broken families expose children to criminal activities. Parents have a responsibility of caring for the children they bring into the world.  When marriages break up, the children lose parental love and guidance.  The children grow up lacking a sense of connection with their family members, neighbors and the society (Horn, Ruck & Liben, 2016).  They have unfulfilled needs and desires that they meet by exploiting other members of the community.  The children lack a sense of community and engage in social chaos, violence and crime. Fatherless families with the mother unable to provide adequately for the family predispose the kids to criminal activities.  The mother might be unwilling to provide affection to the children and this exposes them to antisocial behaviors.  When the children lack adequate supervision, they might end up having friends who affect their lives negatively. Lack of discipline also contributes to the engagement of children in criminal activities.

Secondly, children brought up in broken families go through negative community experiences.  They suffer from rejection from other children in their neighborhood and schools.  They also suffer from depression due to the rejection and struggle in school.  Eventually, they participate in gangs and criminal activities. The social setting also influences the child development.  Kids brought in high-crime neighborhoods are more likely to engage themselves sin criminal activities as compared to those brought up in neighborhoods with high levels of religious practices (Schore, 2015).  The presence of gangs in the neighborhood increases the risk of involvement in the gangs.  The children get into destructive relationships leading to crime.  Finally, families characterized by rejection, abuse, conflict and abandonment predispose their children to criminal activities.  The children lack love and a sense of belonging in their lives.  The children are compelled to find acceptance elsewhere.  They search for the acceptance outside the social settings and in other people who have suffered rejection.

Parental relationship affects the children from an early age.  Whenever the parents quarrel or fight, the children react by crying or hitting other children. Besides, the children become more antisocial as compared to their peers.  The quarrelling parents tend to vent their anger on one of their children and in most cases, the difficult ones.  The parents vent their anger by abusing the children either physically or emotionally (Schore, 2015).  The parental hostility causes the children to be delinquent.  Such children become criminals at a tender age.  The children are normally hostile, hyperactive and aggressive.  In contrast, children raised by affectionate parents are less likely to develop deviant behavior.  Parental rejection causes the children to express their feelings through delinquent and anti-social behavior.  Other characteristics of broken families that promote criminal behavior include lack of parental supervision and discipline, parental neglect and criminal parents.  Children brought up by criminal parents will emulate their parents’ behavior.

School adjustment and achievement also influences the involvement of children in criminal activities.  Even at an early age, children who lack parental love become violent and unfriendly.  They have challenges in forming friendships with the normal children…  they feel rejected and this negatively affects their academic performance.  The teachers might punish such children for failing to complete their schoolwork and poor performance (Newman & Newman, 2014).  The children end up disliking school and their teachers.  Such children do not take part in school activities.  They get involved in delinquent behaviors and eventually drop out of school. Normally, such kids had begun an apprenticeship in criminal activities even before they dropped out of school.

Effects of Social and Emotional Stability on Cognitive Development

The social and emotional stability of the environment in which children grow in greatly influences their cognitive development.  Any experience during childhood, whether positive or negative has immense impacts on the brain development.  A child who goes through a traumatic experience during childhood is at a higher risk of developing behavioral as well as mental health problems (Bergman & Andersson, 2015).  The depression affects the cognitive development and may even affect certain functions of the brain.  Due to the troubled childhood, the child opts to engage in violence.  Home life also affects the cognitive development of children.  Kids brought up in a home life that is chaotic and frightening become more vigilant to any potential threats in their environment.  Such early adversities negatively affect the cognitive development.  The brain systems of such children are set differently and they are likely to engage themselves in risks that are more impulsive.  Having experienced adversity at an early age, the kids are more vulnerable to mental and behavioral disorders.  In most cases, such children engage in criminal activities in their childhood.

Social instability is a major risk factor for causing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  Mostly, TBI results from an accident or assault (Cowan, 2017).  Children, who suffered from an assault at one point in their lives, get involved in violent crime.  Such kids view violence as a common way of life.  Difficulties in the social environment during childhood increases the chances of brain injury.  Children with TBI are unable to interact healthily with other kids at school.  They lack the ability to stay in school and end up dropping out hence they become a nuisance to the society.  Once they drop out of schools, most of the children engage in criminal and gang related activities.

How Environment Shapes Behaviors

The sensory experiences play a significant role in the development of children from birth.  The environment influences one’s behavior throughout his or her entire life.  Furthermore, the child learns through experiences, which affects the brain development.  The environment affects the human behavior in various ways such as encouraging or discouraging engagement in risk behaviors, social interaction and pursuits in education.  Children who lack the determination to pursue their education normally engage in anti-social behavior.  The environment a child grows up in plays a major role in shaping their personalities (Sigelman & Rider, 2012).  An environment shapes human behavior by creating a sense of feeling of safety or insecurity.  People who live in secure environments are more productive and creative.  On the other hand, people living in insecure environments spend most of their energy in protecting themselves thus they are less productive.  Furthermore, the social environment influences people especially children.  Kids who grow up in poor homes and suffer from neglect often develop behavioral disorders.

The environment shapes the personality of children.  Parents’ responses to misbehaviors determine how the child’s behavior in their future lives.  For instance, when a guardian or parent gives attention to a child during tantrums, the child will exhibit tantrums in future as a way of getting their demands met.  At times, the child will demand attention from their parents through tantrums.  The intensity and frequency of the tantrums increase over time as the child learns to use tantrums to demand attention.  However, when a parent rebukes a child during tantrums, the child is unlikely to demonstrate such behavior in future.  It is evident that the children’s misbehavior and the parents’ responses are interrelated. Notwithstanding, stability in homes promotes positive child development (Newman & Newman, 2014).  Constant parental care protects children from factors that affect child development negatively.  Family instability results to attachment disorders.  The attachment between caregivers and children deteriorates.  Such children suffer from poor peer relationships, mental difficulties and behavioral problems.

Children encounter various environmental factors that consign them at a higher risk of developing antisocial behavior.  Such variables include poverty and child maltreatment.  Poverty affects the child’s well-being, success in academic and social behavior.  Children from high-income families enjoy various benefits such as good education.  Such children attend good schools and live in secure environments (Sigelman & Rider, 2012).  They have emotional support from their parents and interact positively with their peers.  However, the children growing up in impoverished homes are predisposed to antisocial behavior.  They lack the basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.  The children live in environments characterized by poverty and insecurity.  Their parents lack money to keep them in schools and in the end, they drop out of schools.  The children lack parental guidance and emotional support as their parents spend most of their time struggling to meet the daily needs.  The children engage in gang activities and other anti-social behavior to earn money to meet their needs.  Eventually, the children engage themselves in criminal activities.

Child maltreatment also affects behavior.  Maltreatment can be in form of physical abuse, rape and sexual abuse, parental neglect as well as emotional and psychological abuse.  The relationship between a parent and child deteriorates due to maltreatment.  The children develop psychological disorders as they suffer from trauma due to either physical or sexual abuse (Keenan, Evans & Crowley, 2016).  They have no one to turn to and they live in solace.  Since the maltreatment disturbs them emotionally and psychologically, they find other ways of countering the stress.  They might engage in drug abuse to forget their problems.  The children become addicts over time and they crave for the drugs.  They lack money to buy the drugs and the only alternative is engaging in theft and other criminal activities to get the money.

Maltreated children have difficulties in forming healthy attachments with their peers.  They lack adequate and consistent parenting.  Children in foster families and orphanages suffer psychologically.  They are more likely to exhibit insecure attachments and unsystematic friendliness.  They tend to fall victims of gang activities as a way of finding the attachment.  Kids growing up in orphanages before their second birthday have better outcomes than those adopted at an advanced age.  The levels of cortisol in foster children varied from that in children brought up by their biological parents. Cortisol levels were low in foster children implying that such children lacked the ability to effectively deal with stress (Cowan, 2017).  Most foster children used alternative ways in dealing with stress such as drug abuse and engagement in criminal activities.  Therefore, the parent-child relationship is very important as it determines how children deal with stress.  Stable family environment fosters positive child development.  The children experience engaged parenting and they learn how to interact healthily with others. In contrast, children under foster care experience family instability.  They often experience maltreatment that alters their healthy development.  Such children can develop positively by providing them with safe and stable homes.  Furthermore, nurturing them will reduce the negative impacts of their experiences.


Conclusively, child development greatly influences the child’s character and personality later on in their lives.  Emotional and social stability highly affects the cognitive development.  Children with emotional disorders lack empathy and they do not understand their own feelings.  They are unable to control their emotions and are more likely to engage in anti-social behavior (Keenan, Evans & Crowley, 2016).  The children have challenges in forming and maintaining healthy relationships with other children.  Social instability also leads to engagement in delinquent and criminal activities.  Children from broken families and abusive homes are more likely to engage in anti-social behavior.  Contrary, children from stable families perform better in academics and are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors.  Caregivers have the responsibility of nurturing their children and providing them with safe and stable homes.

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