Applying Theory to Practice

Posted by Winnie Melda on December 4th, 2018

It is sometimes elusive to understand how the world runs. Murder and all sought of criminal mischief were theoretically considered to be a thing attributed adults. However, many are incidents that defy this theory. The past decades have seen youths and individuals under the age of 18 being charged in court with murder and related cases. There is no clear idea or answer to full explain the beginning points of such violent behavior which today become a grave global concern and a top political policy issue being sensationalized by media coverage. Though such cases were rare in the past, the devastating murder crimes and attempted murders committed by children at school, homes, and other social places continue to scare people today. There have been many media reports about notorious murder by young people which continuously skew the public perception of its actual prevalence. In our case study, we look at Mary Bell, 11 years old who was convicted of the murder of Brian Howe, a three-year kid on May 26, 1957.

Three aspects of the case:

The first among the crucial aspect of this case study is that it involved a girl killing a boy. This aspect is noticeable as it looks contradictory to expectations. The opposite or vice versa could have been expected since boys are considered physically aggressive than girls who may even be by far older.  Nevertheless to aggravate the situation, there was a lot of torcher involved which showed that the girl must have conquered the battle to a large extent. As Calin (2011) reports, the boys hair was cut away, his skin peeled off parts of his genitals, and there were a lot of puncture marks on his thighs. Evidence also showed that there was a lot of strangling involved. Another aspect of the story is that which tries to make sense of the course of the Mary’s behavior. Calin (2011) attributes her wildness to her family’s background. Being brought up by a mother who involved her in prostitution at a minor age could have partially caused her hysteria. That added to her belief that his father was a criminal could have lead to her being wild. Another aspect of the case important to note is that no matter how young Mary was, her actions were wild enough to cause fear among people, even the adults. Calin (2011) describes her as too dangerous to be kept in an unequipped mental hospital or any institution that housed troubled children.

The Moral Development Theory is one theory whose explanations of behavioral delinquency might be used to explain or make understand the origin and context of the juvenile case above. The propositions of this theory identify certain concepts and describe how they are related to delinquent behavior. Apparently, MDT theoretically predicts relationships that may be tested through research. A simple proposition of this theory is that attitudes favoring delinquency may be learned in the context of personal inmate groups, in our case, the girl Mary relates poorly with her parents. She is angry with her life being brought up by a mother who instead of taking care of her leads her to molestation. She is angry with her father who she believes the worst about. That is the foundation of her negative attitudes even towards peers. There is no any reason cited for her murdering the little boy, but one could directly attribute her action to mental turmoil due to the above reasons.  Portrayed here is that youths develop attitudes, and act without second thoughts. The delinquent behavior is then an expression of these attitudes; peer group relations, delinquent attitudes, and delinquent behavior. Apparently, these are the important critical factors that are necessary for one to understand the origin of Juvenile delinquent behaviors.

Several concepts explain the above Juvenile behavior. For Mary Bell’s case study, these concepts can be grouped into two: the internal factors and external concepts. According to Regoli, Hewitt and DeLisi (2014), the individual aspects refer to those individuals’ feelings of a person and attitudes just to mention a few. These individual behaviors act the same way as a virus; they lower the immune system making the host (the individual) vulnerable to a host of any negative behavioral patterns (Furlong & Morrison, 2000). The second concept is the external factors of which peer pressure is the most common example. The behavior may start with one individual at the central point then spreads to the group with whom they have social relations. As part of the external factors that influences behavior, conditions at homes have proved to be causative of early onset of delinquent behavior in youths (AFT, 2000). Among these factors are family conflict, child abuse, harshness and indiscipline of parents, parental neglect and parental criminality (AFT, 2000). A child reared in such parental situations is prone to the use of negative behaviors to solving problems with peers.

The educational system is one viable strategy geared towards preventing delinquency. It is fitted with tools that make it fit to act as an antidote for poor and unstable home environments. A school is meant to be a place where children are globally cared for, nurtured and supported (AFT, 2000). It is here that the antisocial or delinquency behaviors are taught and learned openly. Through teaching social morals such as no name calling, fighting or harassment children are protected from delinquency as it is through such behaviors that aggression and violence start resulting to the cropping of delinquency behaviors. When a student is caught harassing others, teachers punish them and make them apologize to their counterparts (AFT, 2000). In addition, a counselor may be hired to further the morality training to students. Extra-curricular involvement of students in school is also used to reduce juvenile and delinquency behaviors. Involvement in activities like sports and music creates unity and mutual love (AFT, 2000).



American Federation of Teachers. (2000). Building on the best, learning from what works: Five promising violence and prevention programs. Washington, DC.

Regoli, R., Hewitt, J., DeLisi, M. (2014). Psychological Theories. Delinquency in Society. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Calin M. (2011). Top 10 Young Killers. 

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in affordable custom writing if you need a similar paper you can place your order from college research paper services.

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Winnie Melda

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Winnie Melda
Joined: December 7th, 2017
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