Nature Vs. Nurture: which Causes Crime?

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Born on October 27, 1928 Perry Edward Smith is the youngest of four children. Perry’s childhood is atypical; he is neglected alcoholic mother and abusive father; Perry’s unstable background is the reason why he is a delinquent. His parents separate when he is about six years old. After his parents divorce Perry and his siblings are forced to live with their alcoholic mother in San Francisco. Perry’s mother is inattentive about her children and their nutrition, and her extreme negligence causes Perry to develop unhealthy kidneys. A few years after living with his mother she abandons Perry, and he is placed in an orphanage where they physically and psychologically abuse him. When Perry is around nine years old he moves to Alaska with his father. While living with his father he is not able to attend school, and instead, is forced to work with his father. His father is psychologically abusive; at one time his dad points a gun at Perry’s head and laughs about it. It is evident that Perry’s life experiences cause him to become a criminal.

Perry Edward Smith’s upbringing directly leads to his delinquency. For example, when Perry is young he helplessly witnesses his mother lose control of her life due to an alcohol addiction. Many drug and alcohol addiction specialists, including Linda Burger, author of Alcoholism and the Family, believe that children who are raised by alcoholic parents experience depression, aggression, inability to trust, higher rates of addiction, and develop poor judgment skills as adults. Perry, who lives with his alcoholic mother for a period of time, has many characteristics of having an alcoholic parent. In order to cope with his mother’s negligence due to her alcoholism he is forced to distance himself which hinders him later in life because he is never able to assimilate in society. Another example of how traumatic events from his childhood caused him become a delinquent is when he witnesses his father physically abuse his mother. The abuse that Perry witnessed made him feel that it is acceptable to harm others. That experience solidified the feelings that one can do as one wishes without considering other people. An additional event that caused Perry to become a criminal is when his father points a gun to his head and says ‘“Look at me boy! Take a good look! Cause I'm the last living thing you're ever gonna see!”’ Perry must feels that since his father is willing to point a gun to his head, and pretend to kill him that killing is not a big deal. Perry’s childhood obviously leads him to become a criminal. Perry is taught that it’s acceptable to point a gun at someone’s head and that is exactly what he does later in life; the only difference is that he chooses to pull the trigger of a loaded gun. No one can dispute that Perry’s mother and father’s alcoholism and abuse are direct causes to his run-ins with the law.

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Nature vs. nurture: Which causes crime?. (2020, May 13). Retrieved December 1, 2023 , from

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