The causes of criminal behavior have been studied by many psychologists and sociologies who tried to identify what pushes people to commit crimes. Some of the researchers claim that delinquent behavior can be explained by the set of following factors: income level, social environment, and cultural background. If the first two factors have much described and analyzed, the cultural context remains at the point of debate.
This research aims to find out whether the ethnic origin can predict the possible criminal behavior. The target population chosen for investigation is Asians with the particular emphasis being made on psychopathic juveniles.
A lot has been written about the criminal behavior of African Americans, but not a lot of research has been done on Asians. The vast availability of research on Blacks can be explained – African Americans commit the majority of the juvenile crimes, and this tendency made sociologists think about the roots of such trend. Asians, similar to other minority as well as majority groups, commit crimes which can be explained in the same manner as the rest. The assumption is that crimes committed by Asians are different from the crimes committed by other ethnic groups. The question arises – whether the cultural background can impact the predisposition to delinquent behavior. In the course of this research paper, I will try to show that even though Asians commit somewhat different crimes, the delinquent behavior is the result of social interactions and environment they live in rather than cultural peculiarities.
This topic is of high importance, especially taking into account the events of September 11, when all Asian Americans became the potential suspect in criminal acts. The issue of discrimination is closely connected to the criminal behavior of Asians. If the research will prove that the criminal behavior can be predicted based on the nationality, then it would not be discriminatory to say that Asian youth is more open for violence than, for example, whites. However, if the research will conclude with the note that criminal behavior is learned or observed and there is no link between violence and culture, then any claims that Asians are more probable to become criminals are based on prejudice and discriminatory attitude towards this ethnic group.
The investigation of the Asian juveniles psychopath can help to understand the psychology of criminal behavior better. The research will identify the factors that play a significant role in violent activities and the literature review of several journal articles will support the idea that the nationality does not impact the youth to be violent or non-violent. Social factors are much more critical in addressing the juvenile psychopath while the nationality might only modify the direction of violence.
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Asians are a minority group in the United States and their living standard is not much different from African American’s. The vast majority of Asian American belongs to the lower level of the social ladder; they have limited opportunities for education and further career advancement. The American society puts a particular over-valued emphasis on money and financial well-being importance in life; however, the means to achieve the desired goal are not equally distributed. As a result, Asian Americans share the American dream but are not able to achieve it with legitimate means. It is one of the roots of deviant behavior among Asians.
Moreover, the Asians are under-represented in the federal, state and local authorities. Therefore, the Asian youth understands that there is nobody to protect them and fight the way for equal opportunities. The only way for youth out of the difficult position is violence and crime. Through violent acts, Asian youth can get money, respect of friends and find the place in life, even if this place is behind the line of the law. They do realize that it is not right, but they feel that opportunities are distributed unequally and change this distribution with the only known to them effective method – crime.
The problem is not limited to Asian youth violence, but Asian gangs have a negative impact on society in general. One of the points is that Asian gangs are open only for Asians. It means that the person who is not Asian can rarely become the member of the gang. This notion has a deeper meaning – if the gang is located in the district where a lot Asian live, the community will think about all Asians as criminals. In this way, the community itself will encourage the increase of violence.
What exactly is an Asian gang? Asian, in particular, Vietnamese and Cambodian gangs, have started in emerge in the 1980s and represented the security problem on the street of California. Today most of the gangs’ activities have been suppressed, but many delinquent young Asians dream about the renewal of previous power. The Asian gang is typically large – from 50 to 200 members. Unlike African American gangs, Asians were rarely involved in drive-by shootings. In additions, they do not use any characterization like tattoos or hand signs which are typical for other street formations. Female gang members were not accepted, and there were only a few exceptions to this rule (Duffy, 2004).
Asian psychopaths tend to commit organized crimes like auto thefts, extortions, home robberies, and murders. Unlike African Americans who acted spontaneously, Asians tend to plan their activities. It has been estimated that currently there as many as 14,000 Asian gang members in California alone (Duffy, 2004). Asian gangs are especially known for their home robberies. In a typical home robbery, gang members do not wait until resident leaves, instead, they prefer residents to be home. Residents are tied up, terrorized, beaten, robbed and very often killed. Can this violence be explained by the cultural background of Asian gangs or other social factors have evolved into such cruelty?
Sheldon, the author of the article Gene Warfare, talks about the movement known as “eugenics”. The major point of this social movement was identification and elimination of “bad seeds” from American society (Sheldon, 2000, p. 162). Asian Americans were part of the target group for elimination. The author has the aim to inform the reader about this fact, and it is obvious that Sheldon does not support this point of view. For example, while expressing the opinion on the initiative to focus educational campaigns on infants, she notes that it was very “alarming” (Sheldon, 2000, p. 162). According to studies of the early 1990s the children of American minorities, including African American and Asians, were smaller-brained, slower to mature, less sexually restrained and more aggressive. Fortunately, such conclusion was not supported by people and was not proved scientifically. The modern science notifies that the violent behavior is learned rather than received from parents. It is not a unique case when the murder has very calm parents not able to hurt anybody while their grown-up child has killed a person. Sheldon says that these beliefs were racist and now people are more “enlightened” to be able to tell what an assumption is and what a fact is.
Culture as Sameness
The author of the article Culture as Sameness: Toward a Synthetic View of Provocation and Culture in the Criminal Law John Sing looks at the criminal behavior of minority from a different perspective. He notes that the criminal behavior is the result of social pressure – immigrants are forced to assimilate themselves into the American culture, and those who are not very successful are labeled as delinquent. The topic of the article is quite unusual – the author is talking about the cultural defense and describes the framework used by jurists to adjudicate the cultural claims. Sing notes that the decision of the court might be influenced by nationality of the person who has committed the crime. For example, if two similar crimes were committed by the white and Asian persons, the Asian is more likely to get the more strict punishment only because he is Asian and believed to be more violent.
Asians of Influence
The article Asians of Influence is about the attractiveness of anti-Asian campaigns of American politicians. O’Sullivan notes that the American society has created the stereotype of Asians being more violent. The author also criticizes the racial profiling used at airports and believes that this practice is not effective and discriminatory in its essence. This is what American society thins about Asians “they are crafty, deceitful, villainous and half-crazed automatons manipulated by evil rulers” (O’Sullivan, 1999, p. 22). The society has no right to penalize all Asian Americans for the sins of some Asians (recalling the events of September 11). O’Sullivan concludes that the judgments of Asians as being more psychopathic than other nations are purely based on discrimination and prejudicial attitude towards this ethnic group.
Triads and Tongs Team Up to Prey on Asian Populace
Hanson pays special attention to organized crimes by Asian gangs including Chinese and Vietnamese groupings. The author mentions the hard position of Asians in America in the 1960s when the immigration laws have almost prohibited the movements of Asians into the United States. In some cases, the Asians who have traveled to their native country to see relatives could not return to their families in the United States. This immigration restriction was based on the assumption that Asian were highly criminal, while at those times, indeed, there have been numerous Asian gangs, in California for example, and the government did not find a more effective tool to reduce the crime level. Unfortunately, the society did not realize that the nationality cannot be the predictor of violent behavior – crimes are committed by all nationalities, despite ethnic origin.
The Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic
Henry, the author of the article The Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic, says that Asian-Americans as violent and delinquent as any other nation. He notes that culture has the impact on personality development, but not a single culture teaches youth to commit crimes. Moreover, Henry puts Asian-Americans in one line with sexual minorities, feminists, and disabled who often become the victims of hate crimes. Therefore, the author reverses the problem – Asians are not offenders but victims. Also, the author claims that the society labels Asians as more violent similar to the labeling of gays as immoral. It is like a defensive reaction of society which does not understand these groups. “Although definitions vary from state to state, “hate crime” generally means a crime against persons or property motivated in whole or in part by racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual orientation and other prejudices!” (Henry & Jacobs, 1996, p. 366). The reader feels that the author is highly concerned with the issue and does not accept the judgment that Asian youth is more psychopathic.
Genetic Differences and Human Identities
The article by Erik Parens is the research in which the author makes a note that the fact that genetic differences exist should not be denied, regardless of how complicated the truth is to understand. Parens thinks that people with specific cultural backgrounds are more open to violence. However, he also adds that all of his assumptions (which are based on references to more than 50 research) are generalized and do not necessarily apply to all representatives of the ethnic groups, Asians for example. Genetics helps society to understand that each of us possesses unique characteristics and there is no such thing as the genetics of one ethnic group. The delinquent behavior should be addressed from a social perspective and if the society wants to reduce the number of crimes people should look around and answer the question if they are also guilty in the situation when one person has to steal to have food or has to kill to feel satisfied. The author does not justify criminals; he just tries to knock to people’s heart for every reader to understand that criminals are not born, they learn criminal behavior from the environment.
In conclusion, the research has failed to collect the evidence that Asians are more violent than other ethnic groups. Instead, the research proves that predisposition to violence cannot be explained regarding cultural background. Asian culture does not teach youth how to commit crimes, and Asian psychopaths are violent because of the same factors are other youth. Criminal behavior is the result of a set of different social and political pressures. For example, Asians are pushed to get involved in criminal activities because the society is unable to provide the adequate environment in which Asians can gain the financial benefits. Therefore, Asian youth realizes that the government will not help them in life and they see the criminal activity as the only mean to get money.
For many decades the society tries to find the ways to identify the causes of crimes and all of the attempts fail. Why? This is the topic of the further research, but so far the society is moving in the wrong direction – violent behavior cannot be explained regarding cultural background, as it is often done with Asian psychopaths. This research paper is crucial because it falsifies one of the social assumptions that Asians are more violent only because they are Asians. I am sure that in the nearest future the American people will find new, more efficient ways to address criminal behavior. The first step is to abandon labeling of ethnic groups as inherently violent and create the environment in which all people, despite their ethnic origin, will be given equal opportunities to succeed in life.
When people label one Asians as criminal psychopaths, they do not realize that the feelings of the dignity of millions of Asians are hurt. Yes, it is hard to deny that some Asians have committed terrible crimes (like the attack on September 11), but it is not a valid basis to perceive all Asians as violent. Such generalization is not accepted and should not be tolerated because many pieces of research do not prove it. Science has no evidence to show that Asians have some genes that make them more violent. Asian-American youth has the same everyday problems as all youth in the world, but they have to face many social pressures and not all of them can cope with hardships. The young people of any other ethnic origin would react in the same way.
Duffy, M. (2004). Teen Gangs: A Global View. Westport: Greenwood Press.
Hanson, G. (1997). Triads and Tongs Team Up to Prey on Asian Populace. Insight on the News, 13 (11), 18+.
Henry, J. S. & Jacobs, J. B. (1996). The Social Construction of a Hate Crime Epidemic. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 86 (2), 366-391.
O’Sullivan, J. (1999). Asians of Influence. National Review, 51 (12), 22.
Parens, E. (2004). Genetic Differences and Human Identities: On Why Talking about Behavioral Genetics Is Important and Difficult. The Hastings Center Report, 34 (1), 1+.
Shelden, R. G. (2000). Gene Warfare. Social Justice, 27 (2), 162.
Sing, J. J. (1999). Culture as Sameness: Toward a Synthetic View of Provocation and Culture in the Criminal Law. Yale Law Journal, 108 (7), 1845-1884.
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