According to the strain theory, some strains or stressors increase the chances of occurrence of a crime. The results of such strains are negative emotions like anger. Through such negative emotions, an individual’s pressure to take a correlated action is increased, thus creating a possibility of a crime to occur. By engaging in a crime, a person may reduce a strain or assuage a negative emotion. The three strains involved in the strain theory include an individual’s inability to achieve his or her target, facing negative stimuli or losing a positive incentive.
One of the strains that increase the likelihood of a person engaging in a crime is the inability to achieve financial goals. The feeling of failure will alleviate anger and frustrations in a person. The result of increased failures is engaging in crimes such as prostitution, drug peddling, and theft in an attempt to generate more money. According to Akers, every citizen in the US strives for monetary success, regardless of their income bracket. However, the low-class is not able to have the same level playing ground with the high-class. For example, children from wealthy backgrounds have high chances of success because they are mostly provided with all the necessary requirements, unlike their counterparts of humble origins (Akers & Christine, 2012).
Secondly, facing negative stimuli such as verbal or physical abuse, also play a significant role in increasing one’s chances of engaging in a crime. For instance, a child who steals money from his father is likely to run away for fear of being abused. In extreme cases, a person may engage in drug abuse to mollify his frustrations. A person may also be killed or injured for verbally abusing another one. Therefore, negative stimuli increase the chances for one to commit a crime (Akers & Christine, 2012).
The third strain theory is losing a positive incentive. For instance, when one’s belongings are stolen, he may turn to crime to cope with his emotions. He may also steal or destroy a suspect’s property. In countries where democracy isn’t well established, some communities are chased out of places where they are considered as outsiders or even killed, especially when a person ailing from their community loses a presidential election. In such circumstances, crime is mainly used to revenge against the person causing the strain or a related target (Agnew, & Timothy, 2011).
- Agnew, R. & Timothy, B. (2011). Strain Theories: Agnew’s General Strain Theory. McLaughlin & Tim Newburn. London
- Akers, R.L & Christine, S (2012). Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation and Application. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press