All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Suzanne E Perumean-Chaney

Advisory Committee Members

Heith Copes

Sylvie Mrug

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Social control theorists posit that crime and delinquency occur among members in society because an individuals' behavior is not well regulated. Recent control theories have emphasized the importance of high self-control and strong bonds to society in deterring criminal behavior. However, one of the original theories of self-control has been largely ignored among scholars. Developed by Walter Reckless in the 1960s, containment theory suggests that individuals are pushed and pulled into crime. Pushes are elements that pressure individuals to engage in delinquency while pulls draw individuals away from accepted forms of behavior. The theory states that pushes and pulls are buffered by inner and outer containments. The inner containment includes self-concept, goal orientation, frustration tolerance, and norm commitment and retention (i.e., elements within the individual's self). The outer containment includes the social environment in which the individual resides and reflects socialization within the community (i.e., elements outside one's self). Utilizing data from the Research on Pathways to Desistance study, this thesis focused on examining whether: (1) pushes and pulls were associated with an increase in the frequency of offending, (2) the inner and outer containments were associated with a decrease in the frequency of offending, (3) the containment variables had a differential impact on minor and serious offenses, and (4) the containment variables differed for males and females. The results of the count models indicated that pushes and pulls were not significant predictors of offending, regardless of offense type or gender, for high-risk adolescents. Among the containment variables, only goal orientation and the availability of meaningful roles were significant at reducing the frequency of offending. Further, these variables were only effective at reducing the frequency of violent rather than non-violent offenses. Finally, goal orientation was the only significant predictor for males in reducing violent offenses. The containment variables were not significant for female offenders. Theoretical implications and future research suggestions are discussed.

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