There are no clearly-cut explanations for why an individual becomes a criminal. We suspect that violence in a family is one of many contributing factors, but we cannot guarantee that every child from a cruel family is destined to becoming an adult criminal. Family issues, mental specifics, socioeconomic environment, and peer pressure are the major factors that explain cruelty, and people with criminal inclination are subject to several or all of them.
All of the risk factors are quite predictable. As scientists have not found any particular genes that cause criminal behavior, the pressure of social environment comes in the spotlight. Poverty and negative family impacts usually come hand in hand, and criminologist may not even bother searching for more reasons behind one’s criminal nature. And that is how the surface factors mislead criminologists.
Another common factor widely associated with crime is a mental illness. Though the total number of people with mental illness is about 20 percent all over the US, they make up a majority of inmates in state and federal prisons. Though so many people with depression or dementia are more dangerous to themselves than to the society, the correlation between psychotic conditions and crime is undeniable.
Juvenile delinquency often comes as a result of peer pressure. Children are especially susceptible to provocations and tend to do before they think. It is not a rare case when parents of entirely healthy, disciplined, and kind children are reported that their child has been involved in some petty crime. Certainly, the peer pressure stimulates crime when no other factors can cause it.
A great part of their day, students spend interacting in their school environment. Children do not enjoy education equally, and each of them gives a different value to their daily companions. This directly determines the impact of the school on their personality formation. Having different types of temperaments, some students are easier to influence than another, but, in general, all children are to the greater extent shaped by their school culture.
School leaders surely set new trends, but these people are not teachers. Students are much more susceptible to the peer’s authority that often creates problems for teachers. The latter have an extremely limited influence on the youth that is limited to a couple of obedient individuals. The rest of students prefer to take a rebellious stand to show that the teacher’s approach to influencing students is much outdated. On the other hand, rebellious mood is facilitated by the teacher’s behavior.
Teachers temperament predetermines the attitude of students. Lenient and timid educators allow students trespass and humiliate themselves emotionally, while tough uncompromising educators leave no room to insults. Even more, authoritarian teachers may suppress phlegmatic students. Sensitive persons and introverts may take an authoritarian style as an insult to their autonomy in the classroom, which inevitably poisons the learning environment. In practice, aggressive teaching methods may improve the discipline and performance to some extent, but they cause emotional distress to those who are never asked to keep silence.
During their teenage years, students and their characters are little influenced by teachers in particular. But on the larger scale, the school with its connections and peer culture shapes children with their perspectives and choices.
Whatever we may think, emotional distress is not a mental illness yet. Neither it is a wrong fate that will always follow us whenever we go. Simple routine situations can easily make us sad, anxious, compulsive or bored, but there is no way for us to escape from everyday life. Sometimes we get rid of tension and celebrate (go visit our family, share a vacation with friends), but 90 percent of the time we still face stress. And there is something we can do to make our routine more pleasant and calm day after day.
The first way to ease the stress of circumstances is to change our attitudes to them. Days full of work will obviously make us devastated unless we have something pleasant to wait for. Do not let your day end up in despair – dedicate some free time to things you truly love. Also, try to put some goals. We wake up, get dressed, and go to work not because we are obliged to do so. We try to achieve some goals, whether it is a promotion or putting a childhood dream into life. We also work to build our family and empower our loved ones. That is how such a mundane thing as a job can be approached from different angles, and not all of them are as stressful as we believe.
Another way to find emotional harmony is to change our attitudes to ourselves. Let us face it – sometimes we are too tough on ourselves. Running for what is best, we so often refine our life of simple pleasant things. We have no time for hobbies and no cause for fun. But if we want the world to be safe and warm, we must be kind to ourselves. Eat the food that tastes good, wear the clothes that look nice, and make decisions that bring us content, not resentment. Doing things that we like is a right way to take control over our life so that no distress can shake us off.
Behavioral patterns are separate traits that all together determine the child’s manner of conduct. Walking past the primary school backyard, look at those kids – all of them behave alike but also differently. One child is taking a toy from the other and the victim starts crying while the offender is laughing. Some boy actively engages in a game while some girl timidly stands aside. All kids demonstrate certain behaviors that make them different in the eyes of each other, and these patterns do not form in a random way. Children (as well as adults) adopt numerous traits from social interaction, in the first place, with their parents.
Early parent-child relations determine most traits in child’s behavior, and parents shall always recognize the responsibility of their own conduct. In the first place, children try to copy their parents by all means. Lexicon, tone of voice, the manner of speaking and treating others – all these traits are frequently copied by kids. Besides, children make their own conclusions from interaction with parents. Being allowed everything, children live like there are no boundaries to their actions. Fulfilling child’s desires after every tantrum, parents show that every problem can be solved in a few minutes of whining. If parents do not pluck up the courage to discipline their kids, little dictators will go bossing everyone and bullying others. In brief, every parental behavior has its reflection in the child’s mind, and adults should better make sure that this reflection is a positive one.
Though it is a mental illness, depression makes a certain impact on our body. Patients with the disorder frequently complain on pain, fatigue, lack of appetite, weight gain or hair loss. These symptoms are neither imaginary nor accidental. As the balance of chemicals is broken, a human body is exposed to all kinds of risks. Yet before the depression steps in, excessive anxiety or panic attacks easily disturb metabolism. Distressed people either start binge eating or stop taking food at all because of the sudden hormonal outbreak. As the chain of reactions proceeds, a dietary breakdown can result in exhaustion that automatically switches off protective functions of the body. Putting all strength to accelerate some basic activity, an organism has no resources to protect itself from infections. Ohio State University researchers tested a group of people who felt stressed and they revealed all of them developing a strong inflammation to a routine flu.
An inadequate immune response does not refer merely to sneezing and coughing. Inflammations can emerge in various organs making depression even more painful, or it can flow chronically making recovery more difficult. In elderly people, inflammation attacks bones and joints in the first place. Cardiovascular disease is also very likely to come along with depression. Young people commonly suffer from eating disorders and related weight problems as well as from pain of an unknown origin.
Treatment of physical issues resulting from depression must be complex. The immune system cannot recover completely as long as patient’s mind is repressing it. Drugs are not the only option. Counseling and family therapy work best for illnesses triggered by an emotional impairment.
Fear is completely natural and very reasonable emotion. This indicator of a real threat makes our body work in a special mode maximizing efforts to get out of the undesirable situation as fast as possible. But how does it happen that we fear objects and phenomena that exist only in our imagination? Such panic reactions or phobias are caused by specific stimuli that link the emotion of fear to particular objects or settings thought to be dangerous. Even if an unpleasant or painful situation happened only once, it may easily create phobias. Formation of phobias can be compared to developing a conditioned reflex in Pavlov’s experiment, but behaviors that take days to develop are certainly not like phobias that emerge in a moment. A strike of shock in a stressful situation does not fade away easily, and we do everything possible to avoid the trap for the second time.
Scholars distinguish various causes for developing phobias. Neuroscientists believe that phobias have a biological origin. Functional brain imaging shows that patients with phobias have an increased neural activity in one and the same part of the brain. Biologists argue that humans are inherently prone to develop phobias as a memory of their pre-historic experience. Imagine a phobia of any dangerous or disgusting animals. Children naturally beware snakes or spiders even before they find out that these creatures may appear poisonous. Besides animals, our nature makes us fear phenomena that we cannot control or predict. A fear of darkness is this the precise link to dangerous uncertainty next to us.
According to the statistics of NIMH, about 18 percent of all US adults are diagnosed with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. Up to 20 percent of children are estimated as suffering from a progressive mental illness. Recently mental health issues became the talk of the town as everybody was anxious about their loved ones. As psychiatric diagnoses go in all directions these days, we have more reasons to worry. Even if the society is not sicker than ever, people are most likely misdiagnosed.
At the current moment, we take mental issues seriously. Maybe even much more serious than we should. Escalation of the mental health situation in the media naturally makes people watch out for worrisome signs. ADHD is the most frequently diagnosed child disorder that takes on with every year. But how can we know that those cases are not the misdiagnosis? While most symptoms are subjective, and every psychologist tries to issue psychiatric diagnoses, we can talk merely of excessive medicalization of normal life.
Today we are regularly told that emotional distress comes as a consequence of biological illness. Drugs became a compulsory part or a psychiatric treatment. Nevertheless, medication is not always as helpful as it meant to be, and we do not know which role the placebo effect plays in it. Psychiatric diagnoses are unreliable and prescriptions drugs raise more concerns than they bring relief. Mental conditions can be explained as specific psychological phenomena that can be treated effectively. That treatment does not refer to medication only; it also includes counseling, reconsideration of social environment, and one’s personal traits. In brief, we shall not consider ourselves ill if we simply have non-critical emotional or behavioral issues to work on.
Every teenager faces peer pressure at some point in their life. It does not always mean that peers directly force each other to act in a certain way. Peer pressure is more about one’s own decisions to conform with the group or take steps to be liked by friends. It is a natural cause of everyday social interaction. Talking about peer pressure, we frequently imply negative experience teens popularize among each other – sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying etc. Nevertheless, there are many more ways how peers can change each other by making positive pressure.
Advising children to befriend someone particular, parents frequently hope to put the child under the positive pressure. Teenagers are not prone to adopting exceptionally negative habits – everything depends on their everyday communication partners. In fact, teens are easily inspired by people around them, no matter whether they behave positively or negatively. That is why parents strive to ingrain kids in a safer social environment.
Responsible children can persuade their friends to give up destructive behaviors if they do not smoke or drink alcohol themselves. They do not even need to press or insist – just making themselves appealing to others, children show that a person can be cute and happy keeping away from temptations of popular culture. Positive peer pressure can also popularize hobbies other than social networking. Looking at friends who succeed at sports or performing arts, children find more safe ways to make themselves popular and have fun.
Yet at the very start of the Internet era, online safety was already a concern. Remember comedy film “You’ve got mail”? Its main characters behaved rather cautious when chatting with a completely unknown person. No names, no personal details, nothing that would ever expose them to danger in the real world. Their strategy can be taken as a pattern of a correct behavior in online chat rooms, but today there are much more obscene folks there. Sexting and cybersex are common for socialization platforms where strangers usually meet. Even chat rooms for teenagers look unsafe. Kids regularly report about obscene offers they receive from other users on the web.
The mere fact that chat rooms survived until now is quite strange. The first socialization websites, they have become too outdated as compared to social networks. The latter are much more amusing, informative, and safe, while old chat rooms present no more but a space full of strangers. They may be interesting for adults in search of adventures, but definitely not for teenagers or people who cherish their privacy. In chat rooms, you always have to stay alerted not to say something personal, which puts excessive pressure on people who seek just a small talk.
Online safety does not require extraordinary skills – every person can eliminate risks of cyberspace following a simple guideline. The only question is whether we want to stay in the place where predators attack us every minute. Apparently, there are other nice web platforms to communicate than ancient chat rooms.
All of us define success differently and choose their own path to achieve it. If we desperately need something, we want to get it by any chance. The problem is that ends do not always justify the means. For example, if we want to get to the top of the career too badly, we will eventually harm our colleagues and violate corporate ethics in some way. Dazzled by the victory, people cannot see how much their success really costs. But when they eventually do, all the happiness is somehow spoiled.
Relations between happiness and success strongly depend on whether we search for success in a materialistic or spiritual world. In the first case, we estimate our happiness as a tangible value. But however successful we were in its material sense, we would never feel true contentment for titanic efforts we made. If we link success to some non-monetary, emotional, or spiritual values, the outcome will be very different. Happiness and contentment will come along with success for those who concentrate on strengthening relations with loved ones or contributing to the community.
In order to define whether we pursue true values, we shall pay attention whether they make us satisfied. We cannot classify spiritual values as true and materialistic ones as false. We have to listen to ourselves instead and do what inspires us most. Taking a wrong path and trying to get to the top in the wrong business, one can never keep balance with themselves and environment. That is why hard work does not always make us happy.