Big Brothers & Big Sisters & Head Start: Program Application of Theories
Social structure theories posit that a person’s socioeconomic position and class influence the chances of them becoming a criminal. The theory is founded on the assumption that poor people have a higher chance of becoming criminals due to their inability to achieve monetary and social success (Samaha, 2006). The Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization began in 1904 is federally funded and is designed to provide a means for disadvantaged and high risk children to learn to be upstanding and responsible members of society (Big Brothers and Big Sisters, 2014). As a social structure program, Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs operate on the contention that poor youth will be less likely to commit crimes if they are paired with mentors. Mentors are assigned to high risk kids to keep them out of trouble and reduce truancy. This function of the group has deeply impacted communities across the United State and research shows that the program is a positive force for helping kids (Big Brothers and Big Sisters, 2014).
Social process theories of criminology posit that a person’s behavior is conditioned by social forces. Within the framework of these theories it is believed that crime is caused by lack of social control or by social reaction. A lack of social control would be the result of friends and family not being connected in a meaningful way to a juvenile. This lack of connection is believed to cause antisocial behavior. Social process theories also view labeling as an issue. Labeling, such as racial and social class stereotypes, create pressure on individuals to act in deviant ways.
Social process programs are intended to counter the forces of social control and reaction. The US Department of Health and Human Services runs a program called Head Start. This program is intended to fight the problems of social control by providing “health, nutrition, social services and other services determined to be necessary by family needs assessments, in addition to education and cognitive development services.” (Head Start, 2014) By providing these services, it is believed that children from high risk families will be less vulnerable to social pressures that may cause criminal behavior.
Social conflict theories explain criminal behavior from the standpoint of social inequality and conflict (Macionis, 2011). Within this framework of thought, society does not exist in order to create order and stability but instead views society demographically and in terms of conflict between different groups and individuals as they vie for better positions within class, race, ethnicity, gender, etc. (Macionis, 2011) Crime is a result of class conflict when legal means of attaining better positions in society are unattainable.
There are few programs that are built on the concept of social conflict but there are many programs which take this concept into account. The US Department of Justice runs a program called Program Focus (US Department of Justice, 2014). The idea of the program is to provide immediate work for ex-delinquents in order to reduce the chances of them committing crimes for money. The long term goal of the program is to provide job placement into job training and careers that are meaningful and financially stable (US Department of Justice, 2014).
Big Brothers and Big Sisters. (2014). About Us. Retrieved from Big Brothers and Big Sisters: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962351/k.42EB/We_are_here_to_start_something.htm
Head Start. (2014). About . Retrieved from US Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/about
Macionis, J. (2011). Society: The Basics, Eleventh Edition. Prentice Hall, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Samaha, J. (2006). Criminal justice. (7 ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.
US Department of Justice. (2014). Program Focus. Retrieved from US Department of Justice: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/168102.pdf
Vincent Triola. Sat, Feb 06, 2021. Juvenile Delinquency Deterrence Programs & Theories Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/juvenile-delinquency-deterrence-programs-theories