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Moral development theories are also known as age theories or stage theories. They are also called eclectic theories to imply that ‘everything’ is capable of causing delinquency and therefore tightly linked to ‘evil causes evil fallacy’. According to Siegel (2004), theories of moral development may be divided into; latent trait theories and life course theories. According to the latent trait theory, delinquent behaviors are preset by a master trait present in an individual at birth. Such a behavior is expected to remain unchanged in the individual’s life time.
According to the life course theory, deviance is a process that is dynamic and shaped by personal characteristics and his/her experiences within the society. Since human beings are social in nature, their behaviors influence the lies of one another, either positively or negatively. Moral development theories mainly emphasize on ethics (http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory06. htm; Hawkins J. D, 1996, pp. 150-245) According to neo-cognitive theory, the adolescence alienation process that is seen to be mysterious is to blame for delinquency.
Though adolescence is a development stage, this theory is associated with pubertal biological developments in human beings making it more complex. Stanley hall developed six adolescence themes which a normal human being must possess. These include self definition, omni potentiality and estrangement within the society, socialization refusal, youth cultural celebration through rebellious solidarity, determination to change geographically and consciously and obsession in physique.
The theory is also associated with three main path ways that indicate delinquency; authority conflict, overt and covert (http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory06. htm ; Hawkins J. D, 1996, pp. 150-245) According to Piaget’s theory on moral development, human beings go through four main stages in their lives. These are sensor motor, preoperational, concrete and formal. Once people are between 7 and 14 years, some find it hard to proceed to the next stage, formal stage, and as a result they become delinquents with dualistic morality.
Such people only classify things right/wrong without further reasoning. Erickson gives a similar theory but different in that it comprises if eight stages where delinquents are said to be stuck in stage five (identity/identity-diffusion stage at the age between 12 and 18 years). At this stage, male delinquents are said to not to experience intimacy but identity while females experience the opposite. Delinquents according to this theory are yet to develop virtues of fidelity and those of self-worth. Kohlberg developed a similar theory but this theory was based on six stages of human development.
According to Kohlberg, this theory is independent of age and the stages are as follows; punishment concern stage where individuals obey societal norms and avoid sanctions, individualistic stage where personal matters come first, interpersonal stage where the individual extends his/her concern to others, conscience concern stage where group concerns are valued, social contract concern stage where the individual is guided by the societal rights he/she is entitled to enjoy and finally the universal ethics concern where human kind justice principles become the guiding principle.
Delinquents are usually said to be stuck in the first three stages with the most notorious at the first stage (http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory06. htm ; Hawkins J. D, 1996, pp. 150-245). According to these theories, the major causes of delinquency behaviors are ineffective parenting and poor socialization processes. If parents don’t provide a good parenting practice that is able to ensure the children grow up in a good environment free from negative influence, the child will eventually engage in criminal acts.
The other socialization agents especially the family and learning institutions should also be at the fore front to monitor, counsel and advice children on matters that may lead to delinquency if not properly dealt with. It is important to realize that behaviors that are conduct disordered leads to failure and rejection by peer mates.
An individual becomes depressed and as a result may likely engage in delinquent and antisocial behavior (http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory06. htm ; Hawkins J. D, 1996, pp. 50-245) References Hawkins J. D, (1996), DELINQUENCY AND CRIME: CURRENT THEORIES, Cambridge University Press, 150-245 MORAL DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPMENTAL THEORIES OF CRIME, Retrieved from http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/crim/crimtheory06. htm on 6th June, 2009