Criminology as a Science: Cause and Effect


Criminology is a study of the nature and degree of the problem of crime in society. For years criminologists have been trying to unravel criminal behavior. Most of the studies in modern study of criminology in efforts to comprehend criminal behavior, what origin it and how it can be tackle and punished is conducted by sociologists (Siegel, 2006). However biological and psychological approach to the causation of crime have been important in the past and continue to do so today. For example Cesare Lombroso’s theory of the Atavism and William Sheldon’s theory of Somatotypes in the history of biological perspective of crime, although found deficient but the emphasis on the collection of data to test hypotheses about criminals became the basis of modern criminology (Conklin, 2007). Biological explanations do not help us understand why crimes rates vary from one society to another but do explain for some crime for example in case of brain disorder and learning difficulties. A criminologist studies the possible explanations of crime causation and how it can be prevented, if not reduced.

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Criminology allows for an accurate and perceptive examination of many of the concerns that surround offending deviant behavior. After some investigation on criminology one can see that societal, intellectual, and economic foundations are a major study towards the origin of crime yet natural and psychological behavior prolongs to play a strong part in deep understanding of criminology.

Criminology along with the commission of crime itself can in several ways help in the reduction of violent and nonviolent crimes. Generally the effects of crime are viewed as a negative outcome. This is true, however, there is much that can be gained or learned from crimes committed. Through the commission of crime people, including myself may become more aware of where, how, why, and when a crime is most likely to take place. Certain behavior can begin to be classified as potentially criminal through research and analysis of data collected regarding various crimes committed.

Criminology also engages law, what the association is involving law and order, what is the role of law in society? The role that law plays on one the social order may be different from that which it plays in another because law in any given society may not be understood lacking an understanding of political, social, religious and economic philosophy that may strengthen that society. So it almost becomes imperative that in order to understand nature of criminology, one must learn about cultural and social values of the society first (Conklin, 2007). Crime varies from culture to culture and from one time period to another. What was thought to be normal few years ago in society is considered criminal in legal system today, for example marital rape and slave trade.

Criminology can be sub categorized into three different disciplines to the causation of crime. The most common is the classical school which views crime as choice and freewill. The positive school is the opposite of classical school because positive school views criminal behavior as mental disorder, biological effect or social and cultural factor. However the critical school looks into the description of crime, who defines what crime is and what is criminal (Conklin, 2007) From crime prevention to community safety, from imprisonment to rehabilitation, criminology covers a whole range of issues that are discussed and argued on daily basis.

Through statistical data gathered from the various crimes committed, efforts can be made to define, and outline what the factors regarding crime commission are. Police and other law enforcement agencies can begin to determine traits of criminal behavior through patterns in this data. By being aware of these behavioral traits, it may be possible to recognize something abnormal and potentially criminal. There also is the chance to become aware of certain areas, times, type of people typically and potentially involved in these criminal activities. If defining what factors may be most potential for crime is possible, it is also then possible to use this in an effort to reduce the overall crime. Law enforcement may then be able to recognize certain crowd of individuals in a particular area to be involved in crime, therefore will monitor that area more heavily. By doing this, they may either intervene when a crime is about to be committed or make their presence known, thus reducing criminal activity. The intervention action would rely solely on the information provided by the research and analysis of data gathered from the commission of crime: criminology.

With the commission of crime along with statistical data being published, a society’s population may become aware of the type of crimes which are being committed. Crime has an effect on a person or population that I believe is often overlooked. Other than the obvious economical, physical and emotional effects of crime on a person, there is an effect that has the possibility to be of assistance. Neighborhoods have even taken it upon themselves to help each other. “In rare cases where innovative programs to prevent crime and delinquency were broadly supported, they worked more often than not. Since, then, we’ve learned much more, and we are in a much better position to say with confidence that prevention can work-and that it can be far less costly, in every sense, than continuing to rely on incarceration as our first defense against violent crime” (Currie, 1998). Various neighborhoods have developed groups such as the “Neighborhood Watch” in which members of a certain neighborhood report any unusual activity and or criminal behavior. As people become more aware of certain behavior which may have possible criminal involvement, they may have an opportunity to report the suspicious activity to the appropriate law enforcement officials who may intervene before any crime takes place, or the witness may make their presence known to the suspicious individual which could inadvertently deter the possibility of the commission of crime.

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This would not be possible if certain characteristics or behavioral traits were not commonly perceived as deviant, antisocial, or criminally related. Regardless if a person is a victim of a crime, witness of a crime, or is only aware of a crime, the person or people are now affected. Their awareness of surroundings is heightened, along with the awareness and consciousness of the behavior of others is increased. This is something that is often caused by or accompanied by fear or tension. By witnessing a crime or being a victim of a crime, people gain knowledge as to what factors were included in that particular crime. The person may then be more aware or may recognize those factors more easily in day to day life more than someone who does not know so much as to what circumstances have potential to become involved with crime or victimization. “We…know that a significant number of women are exposed to brutality and even death because of their gender” (Roleff, 2001). For example, man hears of a few woman who were walking alone at night a few blocks from his house and were rapped by a men. He may then inform his sister or girlfriend of this. He may also then advise them to try not to walk at night or at least not alone. By being aware of these crimes, the man has become aware of a few situations which have a higher potential for people becoming victimized.


Crime has a couple effects on a person or population that are often overlooked or ignored due to the high emphasis on the economical, physical, and emotional effects resulting from crime. Through the study of criminology and the analysis of data research of the various crimes committed, it is possible for law enforcement to be better aware of criminal behavior and potentially criminal situations, thus creating more allowance for the intervention and reduction of crime. People who have become victim to a crime, witnessed a crime, or know of a crime committed gain knowledge that often is not paid much attention. They can become more aware of these behavioral traits and circumstances which may have a higher potential for being criminally related. With this awareness or knowledge, they can better avoid from such situations. They are able to identify and recognize criminal factors that have not just been studied or research, but they have gained this awareness and knowledge through their first-hand experience. The effects of crime are most commonly perceived to be completely negative. However, there is much knowledge and information that can be gained for future protection and reduction and deterrence of crime.


Conklin, John E. (2007) Criminology. Boston: Pearson Education.

Currie, Elliott. (1998) Crime and Punishment in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company Inc.

Roleff, Tamara L. (2001) Hate Crimes. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2001.

Siegel, Larry J. (2006) Criminology. Belmont: Thomson Higher Education.

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