Past research results have indicated diverging views on the same issue. While some studies have found that school drop has no effect on crime and deviant behaviors, others have found out that school dropout has a close relationship with deviant behavior as well criminal activities. Other studies have indicated that students who drop out of school tend to shy away from crime and deviant behavior. Drapela (49) attributes these divergent views and findings to the fact that researchers do not have a common standard upon which they can divide their school drop outs into categories. Different school dropouts’ categorization criteria applied by different research studies present dissimilar results despite having a common objective. This paper seeks to focus on the issue of school dropouts and how it correlates to post-dropouts criminal and delinquent behavior. The paper will rely on literature to argue the different perspectives of this issue through application of sociological theories of crime, association and lifestyles. Specifically the paper will seek to answer the following question; “Does dropping out of school mean dropping into delinquency?” Guided by the question, the study will, therefore, how dropping out of school has influenced criminal and deviant behaviors among the school dropouts.
Materials and methods
The study is based on past literature findings. The first step was to seek for a set of literature related to the topic of study. This was then followed by selecting the pieces of literate that were closely related. The results and discussions were then used as the basis for the arguments.
Kirk and Sampson (32), in their study, examine the effects of the juvenile justice system of justice to education. In particular, they focus on how the juvenile justice system arrests have impacted on the life of students after the arrest. In this study, the researchers focus on how the juvenile arrests system impacts on the likelihood of school dropout and how it has contributed to the educational attainment of the students who are arrested. The study also focuses on the life of the students after the arrests and its effect on future enrollment for these students into college. The study argues that due to the stigmatization associated with arrest, the students tend to develop increased deviance and social detachment. The study dwells on "life-course theories of cumulative disadvantage" to ascertain how this stigmatization affects the students in their future pursuit of education. There are several reasons have to how this stigmatization is spread. The most contributing factor in this case is the effect that a once a student is arrested, there is a requirement that they continue their education in special schools under the command of the CPS (Kirk and Sampson, 39). Once they complete their term in these schools, they are allowed to regain educational programs in normal schools.
The schools for juvenile detainees are required to contact the school that the student joins to inform them of the student record and the reasons as to why he had been in detention. On the other hand, the juvenile court at times issues a probation sanction that requires a student o attend school. Thus, the school authorities can discover that a particular student is under probation due to the frequent check of the student’s attendance records by a probation officer. Once students are subjected to this stigmatization, their social attachment and subsequently their academic performance is affected. It is no coincidence that most regular schools do not welcome students who have come through the juvenile justice systems schools (Kirk and Sampson, 41).
On the other hand, especially the low class societies where the minority racial groups are the dominant population, this stigmatization though widespread has little impact on students. The students seem to adapt easily to the regular systems once they are released from detention.
According to Sweeten, Bushway and Paternoster in their article, “Does Dropping out Of School Mean Dropping into Delinquency?” The authors maintain that the social and economic impacts of dropping out of school have a huge individual and community impact (p.48). Some evidence shows that dropping out of school is the beginning of crime behavior among the youths .However, some research has disputed this, maintaining that dropping out of school is a result of a gradual and long-term life of crime. Therefore, there is evidence to show that dropping out of school marks the beginning of delinquency whereas, some evidence shows that dropping out of school is in itself a result of a crime life. Convincingly the two evidences converge at one point that the education system is inadequate in terms of imparting positive and beneficial qualities to students .Imaginably, one would argue that these problems are deep rooted within the society’s psychology. According to research, Blacks and Hispanics form the largest group of the population that has high school dropouts. Despite being minority groups in the United States, the two groups register high rates of juvenile delinquency. Evidence shows over one-half of Blacks and Hispanic children have dropped out of school compared to the Whites (SWEETEN, GARY, SHAWN D. BUSHWAY, 54). This imbalance is a reflection of the entire society’s social, economic and political disparity.
Approximately, fifty percent of federal inmates, sixty percent of jails inmates and sixty-eight state prison inmates, reportedly did not finish their regular degree programs. High school dropouts comprised over one-half of this group. Several theoretical frameworks have been used to explain the relationship between delinquency and school dropping. Social control theory and the strain theory are two basic theories that have attempted to explain the relationship between delinquency and school dropping.
Strain theory states that inability to meet academic and societal expectations may lead to school dropouts and subsequently engagement in crime as a way to compensate for the failure (SWEETEN, GARY, SHAWN D. BUSHWAY, 66). Social control theory, human beings, is motivated to engage in endeavors that they have a strong institutional or personal attachment. Teachers, instructors and coaches, have an enormous impact on education. Failed or hostile student-teacher/instructor/coach reduces chances of academic success and consequently leading to a disillusionment that may finally lead to school dropping.
In his article, “Does dropping out of high school cause deviant behavior? An analysis of the national education longitudinal study?” Laurie A. Drapela tries to explain the relationship between school dropping and crime. Still after over 40 years of research, the correlation between the two aspects remains unclear. This could attribute to the fact that the two issues are multidimensional with so many things having huge influences on them. For instance, genetic makeup and the social background of an individual have a huge influence of academic success and criminal behaviors (Drapela, 62).
This article relies on researches or studies conducted by different people at different times. One body of research arrives at the conclusion that the school dropping is because of bad school experience. Dropping out of school according to this body of research may not necessarily lead to criminal behaviors but increases chances of an individual committing crime either at that stage or later in life.
A research on a group of Cohorts in California arrived at the conclusion that the post-high school dropouts are not as many as high school dropouts. Dropping out of school at this age may increase adolescent feelings of personal control and self-esteem. This liberty or freedom may lead to criminal behaviors.
The effects of criminal records on future employment opportunities are well documented. These records tend to hand a clear disadvantage to such students in the future. This could explain why some students do not value education once there have been released from detention. They realize that they have limited opportunities related to education (Drapela, 48). This frustration results to increase deviance and engagement in criminal activities. The socio-economic problems within the society tend to become the next propeller to engaging in such activities. Such individual realize that they have to survive in a very unfair environment and to shed off this frustration; they focus on achieving a survival in every possible way.
Their results indicated that students who had a prior engagement to the juvenile systems had shown a level of educational difficulty as attested by their performance or admission into remedial classes. This could imply that poor academic performance has could be the cause of frustration which tends to overflow as deviant behavior (Kirk and Sampson, 47). This is as a result of the realization by the students that their endeavors in education are limited especially at a time when academic performance is used to gauge the future success of and individual. They, therefore, develop a resistant attitude towards which with time, develops into delinquency.
The effects if delinquency and criminal behavior affect the society in a variety of ways. This affected by the criminal activities tend to be people who have had no prior engagement to crime. These victims are subjects if crime. The general perception has been that victims are people who have tended to be at the “wrong place at the wrong time” (Siegel, 60). However, there are several victimization theories that have been formulated to explain how innocent persons end up being the victims of crime. One of the theories advanced to explain this phenomenon is the victim precipitation theory. This theory takes two approaches, on one side in the active precipitation whereby use of provocative words or actions may render one a victim. The passive precipitation, on the other hand is a situation where the victim only exhibits some characteristics that are provocative to the attacker. In this phenomenon, the victim is unaware of the effects of the actions on the attacker (Siegel, 68).
The second theory that explains this phenomenon is the lifestyle theories. These theories explain that some lifestyles may act as exposure to the activities of criminal groups. An individual with a lifestyle that exposes them to high risk is likely to be victimized than another individual who has a lifestyle that exposes them to less risk (Siegel, 69).
The deviant place theory explains that some places are increasingly riskier than others, it identifies low economy areas with dense populations and transient neighborhoods as a harbor for criminal gangs and such places are likely to yield criminal activities (Siegel, 70). Thus, those who live in such places are likely to become victims of crime as compared to those living in highly guarded residential areas where the socio-economic structure is favorable.
The routine activities theory, on the other hand, explains that motivation to cause crime as well as constant offender supply hold significance in the levels of victimization. This theory explains that the suitability of targets to attack, presence of offenders, as well as the absence of able guardians, is the three variables that define how routine activities influence the chances of an individual becoming a victim of crime (Siegel, 71).
It is true that the school dropout may lead to delinquency and crime among young people. However, studies and research converge at a common ground that the dropout rates is very high among minority groups in the United States. This shows that a myriad of social, economic and political factors that may have contributed to this trend. School dropout and delinquency is a reflection of societal failure in entirety. The society has created a huge racial, economic and class boundaries which create unnecessary anxiety in learning institutions, with the poor, in many times, falling a victim of this disparity. The society in entirety is the biggest victim of school dropout and increased delinquency. In the contemporary society, streets have become exceedingly unsafe due to the high crime rates that have been occasioned by this social imbalance .Therefore, the authorities and the society at hand should join hand in fighting school dropout. This is through building a fair academic system that ensures that inspirations of every young person are met.
Drapela, Laurie A. "does dropping out of high school cause deviant behavior? an analysis of the national education longitudinal study." Deviant Behavior 26 (2004): 27-62. Print.
Kirk, D S., and R. J. Sampson. "Juvenile Arrest and Collateral Educational Damage in the Transition to Adulthood." Sociology of Education 86.1 (2013): 36-62. Web.
Siegel, Larry J. Criminology: The Core. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
SWEETEN, GARY, SHAWN D. BUSHWAY, and RAYMOND PATERNOSTER. "DOES DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL MEAN DROPPING INTO DELINQUENCY?" Criminology 47.1 (2009): 47-91. Print.