Among the theories explaining the causes of delinquent youth, two are especially important: social learning theory and psychoanalytic theory. According to social learning theory, human behavior is influenced by several factors, including the environment, the habits of the child’s parents, the friends people spend time with, and the level of wealth in the family. However, a key factor that influences engaging in criminal activity is the experience of learning from others. In particular, how the conflict in the family is resolved affects how the child will act during quarrels in school. It is believed that the risk of involvement in criminal activities increases when children are brought up in a criminal atmosphere. Only a partial implementation of this model is permissible to explain the deviant behavior of young people. This theory does not consider the internal impulses of adolescents that are not associated with the learning process of others.
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The importance of the experience gained in childhood as a factor influencing the further development of the adolescent is emphasized in the psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud. According to psychoanalytic theory, the causes of youth crime are unresolved instincts and impulses in the human psyche. Freud was the first to discover the relationship between youth crime and the formation of young people’s personalities. However, only subsequent studies by other scholars have shown that a person’s poorly developed superego contributes to the number of crimes committed by such a person. Psychoanalytic theory can be applied partially since the unconscious does not entirely determine the existence of people and, in particular, the deviance of their behavior.
Thus, the difference between the theories lies in the fact that Freud’s theory finds the reasons for the deviant behavior of young people in the unconscious, mainly in childhood impressions. In contrast, according to social learning theory, the main reason teenagers commit illegal acts is an imitation of people’s actions. Both theories have a limited scope of application due to the neglect in both approaches of many essential factors.