Past studies on criminality give emphasis to the view that criminal was a physical type. Since then, criminals in general have been considered as either inferior mental types or as products of economic disadvantage. Several approaches have been adopted by some criminologists, like the eclectic approach, which considers several factors such as constitutional, psychological, social and economic. While some of these past studies still exist in the present sociology of crime, the current view on criminality is increasingly being explained on the basis of more systematic theory.
Systematic present-day explanation of criminality chiefly lies between psychiatry and psychoanalysis on the one hand and sociology on the other. While sociologist emphasizes group factors, social norms, and attitudes, psychiatry and psychoanalysis tend to stress on individual factors, emotions, and personality traits. Sociology has always had a significant influence on criminality that much of the research in criminology has been predominantly stimulated by sociology. In turn, some criminology developments (i. e. ertain research techniques) have also influenced sociology.
Recent research represented an improvement over the past but there is still an apparent need for a more systematic approach to deviant behavior called crime that many sociologists failed to fully be aware of in order to parallel the developments in social psychological study of behavior. The main currents of sociology and social psychology are reflected in the adequate development of criminology. By and large, sociology links the relation between criminal behavior and the dynamic processes of social life.
This broad scale of sociology can be broken down into specific concerns like its interest with the nature and presence of conflicting legal norms in a society, the incidence of delinquent and criminal behavior among certain groups, how social class and occupation may produce or inhibit criminality, and the effect on criminality of larger social processes such as urbanization. Criminal behavior is sociologically viewed as human behavior given that the personality traits and attitudes of all persons are acquired through the learning process.
In addition, crime is considered by sociologist as a product of definitions of situations acquired in life experience. Following the sociological focus of the nature of groups, the concepts of right and wrong are acquired from others along the on-going process of living. It is for this reason that sociologists bring emphasis to the role played by a person in groups with deviant norms and the self-conception that such a person secures from others. Generally, they are doubtful of individualistic explanations of criminality.
Nature of Criminality Apparently, the nature of criminal behavior and the criminal form the definition of the concepts of criminality. Scientifically, the mere legal definition of a crime by itself is insufficient. According to Hermann Mannheim (1946), crime is antisocial behavior and no other human behavior should be so considered. He added that human life, both individual and collective, sexual and family life, property and the infringement of property rights upon persons are the values that should be protected.
During the 1940’s, the study of civil and administrative penalties was proposed to be added in the field of criminology. Broader views on criminality stressed that penalties imposed by government should be included within the field of criminology notwithstanding whether they legally are contained in the criminal law. This is for the purpose of having a more representative sample of those who violate the law. Differences in the nature of the punishment for given acts actually involve not the act itself but often unorganized public recognition of the extent and consequences of such violations (Sutherland 1949).
The complexity of many economic crimes and their diffused effect over along period of time causes such differential public attitude toward white collar crime apart from an overt and often easily recognized nature of many conventional crimes. Furthermore, while white-collar offenses rarely receive similar press publicity as with ordinary crimes, they do not stimulate the similar resentment. Unfortunately, legislation aimed at the antisocial behavior of white-collar persons has been characterized by greater leniency in enforcement compared to the ordinary criminal case like larceny and burglary.
This leniency had sometimes avoided counteracting powerful interest groups. An important question comes up within this topic as to whether white-collar offenders consider themselves as criminals. One author objected to the inclusion of white collar crime within criminology in the claim that since the criminal penalty carries public stigma, which is not true of white collar crime, it affects the public’s and the offender’s conception of an act (Tappan 1947a; Tappan 1947b). Criminality and Society
Society and criminal behavior have a very close relation for the understanding of the controversy over white-collar crime and the social structure. There is then the need for the clearer comparison of white-collar crimes from ordinary ones. They differ from one another in terms of the methods of dealing with the crime, the status of the offender, the toleration of the public, and the social support of the offenders. Digging deeper into the relation of general society to criminal behavior has generated a number of studies.
Merton’s analysis of anomie (1949) proved to be the most provocative and concrete statement of the relationship of social structure to criminality. Interestingly, Merton’s essay suggested that deviant behavior such as crime was a symptom of the dissociation in a society between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these aspirations. A particular society that is oriented on achievement on power and material wealth hands off great pressure on the lower social levels in achieving these ends through means which are not acceptable to other persons in the society (e. . ordinary crime, organized crime, rackets).
Additionally, Cohen (1955) implied the same idea that the behavior of most lower class delinquent gangs represents the logical result of lower class boys being judged in school and other places by middle class standards. On a broader approach to understanding of delinquency through the study of the values in a society, Barron (1951) suggested that illegal and unconventional delinquency-provoking patterns of adults in a society serve as behavior models for juveniles (pp. 08-214).
By the time the values from the juvenile peer group differ and contrast that of the official values of society, conflicts of values exist. Certain values in a society such as success, status and power ascendance, pecuniary and material wealth, resistance to authority, and toughness are particularly important in a society distinguished by dynamic change, alternative norms, impersonal social relationships, and duality of loyalty and ethics resulting from multi-group membership.
Juvenile delinquency has also been closely linked with secondary influences in society. These influences include the police and courts, the school and mass media of communication (i. e. newspapers, movies, television, radio and comic books). The relation to these influences to juvenile delinquency had been analyzed by Clinard (1949) along with Cavanaugh (1949) in their similar conclusion that comic books sociologically appear to have little direct relation to delinquency.
Contrastingly, psychiatrist Wertham (1953) made a number of claims for the influence of comic books. However, he wasn’t able to submit enough data but a few cases to support his claim. According to Gittler (1957), juveniles who steal have been described in most studies as coming from areas of the city where housing is poor and rentals are low, occupations are largely unskilled, populations are more heterogeneous with more recent immigrants, the inhabitants are more mobile, and there is a higher incidence of breakdown of family relationships.
In the same paragraph, Gittler (1957) emphasized the study of 230 delinquents involved in auto theft, as compared with 2,774 who had committed other offenses, auto thieves were found to come mainly from economically above average areas of the city where lived on the whole white persons of predominantly Western European origin. Generally, they came more frequently from areas which had a more homogeneous population, lived in single-family dwellings, and had only one parent employed. Rape Apart from other offenses, the act of rape is truly more devastating, painful, shameful, and shocking victimization of women.
In much of the nations worldwide, rape is considered a heinous crime with a corresponding heavy sanctions leading from life imprisonment up to the ultimate penalty of death. The proceeding discussion and analysis look forward to the greater understanding of rape and the nature of this crime and its offenders. In the latter part is a closer look and review of the way rape topics are covered by media and the newspapers in the UK. Defining Rape Literally, the word “rape” in Latin means “to steal, seize, or carry away”.
While much effort are taken in response to this crime, there is still lack of organized, uniform definition of rape among professionals, institutions, states, and even individuals. For this reason, definitions of rape can be divided into two forms – legal and non-legal. Legal Form of Definition The traditional common law provides the legal perspectives on rape. According to common law, rape is defined as the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by force and against her will. In addition, sexual penetration, no matter how slight, was enough to constitute criminality, assuming the other elements were present.
Common law sets out resistance standard for the victim in distinguishing rape from fornication and adultery. Though both forms of carnal knowledge are considered criminal acts, the victim is warded off the punishment for adultery or fornication if the act is forcible. With regards to common law theory, rape is dependent upon both the victim’s and offender’s perception that the intercourse was not consensual. This creates a problem as no criminal intent will be present in many cases in which an unacceptable act is committed.
The victim’s perception of the intercourse as rape may be rather the opposite and contradictory of the perpetrator’s belief. Non-Legal Form of Definition Literally, non-legal definition of rape includes any meaning outside the legal perspectives. The definition is usually a matter of individual interpretation of what circumstances should constitute rape. Non-legal explanation of rape is more liberal and inclusive compared to legal definitions as more information becomes available about sexual violations, relationships, consensual matters, and other factors on which to form opinions.
Rape often covers up sexual assault including attempted rape – involving virtually every element of the rape act itself, making the experience just as traumatising for the victim. Apart from legal perspectives, non-legal terms extend beyond sexual penetration of a nonconsensual woman (or man) outside the context of marriage and include sodomy, oral and anal copulation, penetration by an instrument, and incest. The way the victimised woman defines rape is conceivably the most useful non-legal perspective as her point of view as a result of victimisation offers us an important perspective on rape.
On the other hand, perspective on rape becomes hard to examine when raped women refuse to report what had happened to them. Limitations on the Definition of Rape Non-legal interpretations of rape had been created in coping up with the narrow scope of official definitions of rape by legal designation. Additionally, reforms within the legal description of rape are deemed necessary since most of the controversy of rape definition is from this label.
By putting current legal definitions of forcible rape, K. Svalastoga (1962) claimed that rape carries a heavy social component, asserting that the act itself is not a sufficient criterion to legitimately apply an official designation of rape but with interpretation by the female actee of the act as rape and that her interpretation must be similarly evaluated by a number of officials and agencies (pp. 48-53). Moreover, as legal definition’s scope is limited, several shortcomings are quite evident. An offense covering a wide range of sexual assaults has been applied to only the most extreme and violent incidents.
Subsequently, while most statistics on rape are based on legal concepts of rape, it instantly offers substantial lower incidence of rape than broader interpretations would show. Ultimately, a lot of instances of sexual assault fall outside the scope of state statutes’ definition of rape. Thus, these limitations call for the necessity of reassessing the standing of common law on this serious crime and broadening the meaning of sexual assault. Rape Misconceptions One of the many blatant misconceptions of rape assumes that rape is a victim-precipitated crime.
This is clarified by Menachem Amir (1961), a criminologist and author of Patterns in Forcible Rape, on this theory’s view that victimised women asked for rape through their mode of dress or behavior (p. 261). While some studies described rape as victim-precipitated, only 4 percent of the sexual assaults studied involved a woman’s precipitative behavior (NCCPV 1969). Menachem Amir (1961) supported this result and claimed that the victim’s behavior is not as significant as the offender’s interpretation of her actions. What Makes a Person a Rapist
While rape is a phenomenon requiring no specific character traits for victim of offender, a number of researchers attempted to derive a standard in identifying patterns of associated with forcible rape. Characterisations of the offender or victim of rape were based on prominence as established by Amir (1961). These are as follows: – Rape is predominantly an intraracial crime. – Rape between blacks occurs more often than between whites. – Most rapists are young ranging from age 15 to 29. – Most victims are young ranging from age 10 to 29. – Offenders tend to occupy the lower end of the occupational scale. Sexual assaults are not occupationally bound. – The offender and victim generally live in the same neighborhood. – Alcohol is a factor only in violent rapes. – Most group rapes involve young men, are planned, and are influenced by peer pressure. Whereas Katz and Mazur’s (1979) findings are consistent with Amir’s first four claims, they contend to the next characterisation that rape is a lower socioeconomic class phenomenon (p. 38). Accordingly, they argue that although most researchers agree to this claim, only few have presented systematic data in substantiating this assertion.
In view of the findings that intelligence and physical characteristics are proved to be inconsistent central factors in rape, marital status, on the other hand, is a factor with several studies revealing that rape victims are more often single than married. Specifically, it has been found that 85 percent of the victims were single at the time of the rape or attempted rape (Russell n. d. ). Rape in the UK and the Newspapers Rape becomes more degrading to women as it goes out through publicity. In view of this, many rape victims fear this threat of publicity in sexual trials.
The justification for this fear is concluded by the Heilbron Advisory Group (1976) that “disclosure of a rape victim’s name caused her great distress and also tended to discourage women from reporting alleged rape”. While the Sexual Offences Act of 1976 pledged for the anonymity to the victims of rape and to the defendant in a rape trial, such restriction is not applicable to victims of other sexual assault like sexual assault or male rape. The role of complying a Press Council administered code of practice, in these cases, lies with the newspapers.
Two researchers concentrated their analysis of the reporting of sexual crimes, Keith Soothill and Sylvia Walby (1991). They have found some impact of the 1976 Act and noticed that newspapers follow strictly to the letter of the law. Nevertheless, though the victim’s name is not reported, newspapers, in some cases, provide sufficient detail enabling victims to be identified. In most cases, media coverage of sex trials exhibits a tendency to place the responsibility for the offence upon the victim rather than the offender. This generalisation is supported by what Soothill and Walby (1991) found.
Newspapers and the printing press is a business that sometimes unsurprisingly utilises sex issues in order to keep the business going notwithstanding the sympathy and understanding of the victims’ need. In a more noticeable example, newspapers not only share the misconceptions on the nature of rape but also reinforcing it making the victims’ experience in court distressing and destructive. Nonetheless, a major impact had been observed from the reforms of police and court procedures along with the provision of greater access for assault victims to helplines and support systems.
The British Crime Survey estimates that, whereas at the time of the first survey in 1983 only 8. 3 per cent of sexual assaults were being reported, by 1988 that figure had increased to 20. 7 per cent. This increase in reporting rate alone would account for most of the increase in the official level of sexual crime over that period (Hough & Mayhew 1985; Mayhew, Elliott & Dowds 1989). As this reporting rate is significantly increasing, media and the newspapers also magnify an impression to the public creating a moral panic about sexual offending and its unprecedented explosion in sexual crime.
In response to this, politicians concentrate on hardening the sentencing policy towards sexual offenders. Media reporting of sexual offences became a significant piece of the puzzle in the UK’s struggle for diminishing cases of rape despite some of its undesirable impact to this field. Since the beginnings of a popular press, sexual crime has always proved a fruitful source of stories. However, as Soothill and Walby have demonstrated, there has been a steady increase in the number of sexual crimes reported in the media over the past few years, with the most significant increase coming between the years 1971 and 1978.
Moreover, whereas in 1951 stories about rape were almost all confined to one newspaper, the News of the World, by 1985 even the broadsheets were feeding their readers on a regular diet of rape stories. Indeed, page 3 of the Daily Telegraph now rivals page 3 of the Sun for its obsession with sex. The nature of the reporting of sexual crime has also changed. In the 1950s and 1960s, few details of any sexual crime were reported. Euphemisms were used—rape was referred to as ‘carnal knowledge’.
In recent years, however, newspapers have begun to go into considerable detail and to use reports of sexual crime as part of a semi-pornographic ‘package’. One common strategy has been to place reports of sex crimes next to pictures of topless women. In one case, the Sunday Sport featured on its front page a story purporting to tell of a model’s multiple rape, and followed it with an invitation for readers to ring a pay-line number where more explicit details would be given. The effect of these changes has been to move sexual crime from the realms of the extraordinary into the everyday.
Stories about rape and child abuse are now the staples of newspaper reportage: in 1985, according to Soothill and Walby, papers like the Sun were averaging one rape story a week, and there is no reason to believe that this average has declined. These accounts also build up the image of perpetrators of sexual crime as modern-day monsters. Offenders such as Malcolm Fairley, who raped and assaulted men and women during a series of burglaries in the early 1980s, are given nicknames (in Fairley’s case ‘The Fox’) and become fully developed folk devils capable of any vice.
Offenders who commit assaults on children receive similar treatment. The equation of sexual offender and monster is now firmly part of the public psyche. ‘Monster’ and ‘beast’ are common euphemisms for sex offenders in the prison system. Role of Newspapers In as much as newspapers created moral panic to the public is their intensive demands for tougher treatment for sexual offenders. In particular, the Daily Mail released in its 1985 editorial that: Rape is a growing problem in Britain. What is needed…is swinging penalties.
There should be exemplary punishments to stamp on the present horrifying trend towards associating burglary with rape. There should also be severe minimum sentences to ensure that no guilty party gets off lightly. Rape is a particularly beastly crime and the law should fully mirror public revulsion (Daily Mail 11 January 1985). The above-italicised statement fueled Geoffrey Dickens in addressing the issue in his October 1991 speech to the Conservative Party Conference, demanding the need to pass legislation to stop child abuse and rape of women.
This speech has led into building a tough policy against sexual offenders. The image of sex offenders walking free from courts is used by newspapers as part of a more general campaign for a harder line towards offenders: in 1992 the Evening Standard reported then Home Secretary Kenneth Baker’s electioneering call for restrictions on bail for car offenders and burglars with the call ‘Don’t Free Men on Rape Charge’ (Evening Standard 24 February 1992). The media and the newspapers somehow initiated all these constructive efforts.