A Comprehensive Analysis of Social Learning Theory Linked to Criminal and Deviant Behavior
Jackson de Carvalho, PhD; Donna F. Ossorio, PhD

The chief concern in any community dealing with crime is not the criminal punishment but preventing young people from being educated in a culture and life of crime. Another concern is the increased involvement of juveniles in crime as victims and perpetrators, while there can be a combination of risk factors contributing to juvenile delinquency. Social Learning Theory (SLT) exhibits one comprehensive explanation in describing those contributing factors. Akers (1998) redefines social learning theory to include social structure; both theories are intertwined similarly to DNA. Each element is interdependent on the other and has a significant impact on a child’s developmental process. Social Learning consists of sociology, psychology, and criminology, while social structure leans toward an individual’s environment. In addition to social learning and social structure, biological factors are critical in assessing the propensity of juvenile delinquency. This integrated model approach assures that evidence-based practice programs are specifically tailored to each individual. The susceptibility of the biological factors contributes or is enhanced by environmental cues; there is no direct determinant of delinquency or deviant behavior strictly based on biology. Integrating the abovementioned theoretical perspectives assist in ensuring prevention programs are modified to decrease juvenile recidivism and reduce the likelihood of juveniles becoming carrier criminality.

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