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    Dinquent Essay

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    Deviant behavior is predictable; some theorists believe this is because human behavior is based on self-interest. The question social control theorists ask is not “what makes people criminal?” but instead evaluate why people obey rules. The simple answer remains complex; bonds to society serve as a restraint on delinquent behavior, but if these restraints are loosened, self-interested behavior is bound to emerge (William III & McShane, 2018). As reported in a 2017 HBO documentary, Mommy dead and Dearest, in 2015 a woman by the name of Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard was found stabbed to death in her Greene County, Missouri home.

    According to police records, she was face down in her bedroom lying in a pool of blood from stab wounds that had killed her several days prior. Her disabled daughter had been missing and the townspeople of Greene County mourned their losses. The question on everyone’s mind: who could commit a crime so heinous to a seemingly perfect family? Throughout the investigation, it became increasingly clear the enemy Dee Dee had created for herself. This crime will be evaluated using social control theory. There is a significant amount of research conducted on the importance of attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief on a person’s likelihood to act delinquent.

    Gypsy Rose Blanchard, now in prison for the death of her mother, grew up believing she had leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, and seizures, among other ailments. After Dee Dee’s death it was revealed that Gypsy’s many illnesses had been fabricated, with the doctors believing Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen by proxy. This is a mental illness and form of child abuse where someone invents or causes illnesses in their child to receive medical (Pietrangelo, 2016). Dee Dee would shave Gypsy’s hair to make people believe she had leukemia, Gypsy was wheel-chair bound even though she could walk, and if a doctor disagreed with the illnesses Dee Dee said her daughter had, she would move to another doctor until one agreed. This allowed her to receive proper documentation of Gypsy’s false ailments. With this documentation in place, Dee Dee forced Gypsy to undergo unnecessary surgery and receive medication; she was instructed to pretend to be disabled and chronically ill.

    Losing a house to Hurricane Katrina, the two benefited from charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, and Make-A-Wish foundation. Dee Dee then claimed all Gypsy’s medical records, including her birth certificate were destroyed in the flooding which empowered her to forge her daughters age. This permitted Gypsy to be controlled well into her adulthood. In addition to psychological abuse, Dee Dee used physical abuse to control Gypsy—always holding her hand around other people, squeezing her hand tighter when Gypsy said anything that might suggest she was not ill or when she appeared to behave above her alleged mental capabilities.

    Reportedly, when the two were alone at home, Dee Dee would even strike her with open hands or a coat hanger. Just shy of Gypsy’s 24th birthday, and after several attempts to escape her mother’s grasp, she enlisted Nicholas Godejohn to commit the murder. Despite her uninterest in him and his criminal record for indecent exposure with a history of mental illness, the two maintained a romantic online relationship. Once the plan to commit this murder was in play, Gypsy supplied the transportation for Godejohn and the duct tape, gloves and a knife with the understanding that he would use these things to murder her mother.

    Social control theories propose that people are encouraged not to break the law through their relationships, commitments, values, norms and beliefs. When a person has a strong basic belief system and exhibits connections to the aforementioned elements, they possess a higher level of control of their actions. Hence, if moral codes are abided by, and individuals feel a wider sense of integration and impact in their community, they are less likely to commit crimes. This theory attributes crime and delinquency to the usual sociological variables such as family structures, education, and peer groups (William III & McShane, 2018). A newer version of the theory comes from Travis Hirschi’s social control theory.

    Hirschi believed that behavior reflects varying degrees of morality. A large part of social control theory is the belief that human behavior is based on self-interest; society serves as a restraint on delinquent behavior, but once those bonds to society are loosened, self-interested behavior will emerge. Social control theory is a strong theory because since deviant behavior is expected, this theory explains why people engage in conforming behaviors. Society can serve as a restraint through socialization where conforming and conventional moral behavior is developed. This theory also analyzes early socialization with others who refrain from delinquent behavior.

    This provides bonds that attach individuals to society’s views. It emphasizes the affect peers have on an individual’s likelihood to act deviant. On the other hand, the theory fails to account for factors such as economic status or intelligence when discussing delinquent behavior. This theory doesn’t explain how much certain bonds to society need to loosen before deviance occurs. As the textbook Criminological Theory outlines, theorists are not confident there is a definitive weak bond or absence of a bond where an individual will commit some form of delinquency.

    Hirschi outlined four elements for the social bond: attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief. Attachment relates to the affective ties to people who are important to that individual. In the case against Gypsy, it is extremely clear that the fabricated emotional bond between Gypsy and Dee Dee created a false attachment for Gypsy. As Gypsy grew in her maturity, her bond to her mother disintegrated; particularly when her sexual curiosities grew in her adolescence, and her mother increasingly prevented her from engaging with friends or in intimate relationships. After a friendship with a neighbor blossomed, it was clear her mother had control of how this friend treated her.

    She was looked at as the girl who needed sympathy and charity. With no attachment to peers or family, delinquent behavior had the opportunity to flourish. Involvement refers to the degree of an activity and the time and energy spent on conventional activities. Dee Dee had removed Gypsy from school around the second-grade, supposedly because her aliments became too debilitating. This cut off virtually all of Gypsy’s capability to get involved with time-consuming activities, consequently leading to varying degrees of boredom and desperation. Per Dee Dee denying Gypsy the time to have friends, her involvement with social peers was minimal. This leaves an overwhelming availability of time and energy for unconventional behavior. Commitment refers to the investment in conventional pursuits.

    By acting in conventional pursuits, an individual merely lacks the time to act with deviant behavior. Gypsy was isolated from birth, not being able to invest in society. Gypsy was believed to be a mentally disabled young girl with no academic competency. And finally, belief is the respect for the common value system. Gypsy attempted to reach authorities for help in her situation. In one instance, the police responded to a report that Dee Dee was using multiple aliases for herself and Gypsy, as well as using multiple dates of birth for Gypsy. The police dropped the case when they responded to the house where Dee Dee assured them this was because they were running from Gypsy’s abusive, drug-addicted father; of course, this was a lie. In another instance, Gypsy fled to a local hospital where she showed her birth certificate to indicate she was of legal age, when her mother showed up with a forged birth certificate and subsequently had Gypsy apologize to everyone she had bothered. She had attempted to respect the norms provided for her, though with no one in authority who Gypsy trusted, her belief—or common value system— was damaged.

    In a journal article titled “Application of Social Control Theory” Hirschi’s social control theory was examined, particularly the relationship between attachment and substance abuse among South Korean youth (Heejoo, Han, & Lee, 2016). Through these youths, the attachment between parents, teachers, and close friends was observed. Han et al. describe the most important type of attachment stemming between youth and parents. This is because this type of attachment is considered necessary for development in adolescent functioning since minors depend on their parents for socialization in early stages of their lives. The relationship between Dee Dee and Gypsy lacked the genuine bond that Gypsy needed to help refrain from delinquent behavior. The research suggests that as a youth individual transitions from childhood to adolescence, they will seek supportive relationships outside of immediate family. During this time, youth are expected to attend school and create bonds with teachers and close friends. Gypsy lacked the ability to act accordingly. The study concluded by exemplifying the importance of maintaining youth relationships with close friends and family.

    In contrast with the previous study, Jones et al. in their 2015 journal article titled “Substance Use, Personality, and Inhibitor,” children were examined to determine the effect bonds have on substance and alcohol abuse but found some critique for Hirschi’s theory. According to their research, the bonds as described by Hirschi did in fact exert influence on the children’s likelihood of substance use but did not find evidence that the bonds were related to alcohol abuse. Hirschi indicated that a greater number of bonds should lead to less involvement in antisocial behaviors. This study focused on two key inhibitors of the four bonds—attachment and commitment. This journal article proves that while these bonds Hirschi describe are important in determining delinquency, there is not a distinctive line where theorists can say a person will act in delinquent behavior. Even though these two articles are examining substance abuse instead of a more serious crime like Gypsy had participated in, they show how strong the bond attachment can be for developmental stages.

    Because Hirschi emphasizes the importance of attachment, it can be assumed that this bond is perhaps the most important for determining a person’s likelihood to participate in delinquent behavior. In chapter 19 of the book The Oxford Handbook of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, Abigail Fagan and Kristen Benedini discuss family influences on youth offending. Severe child maltreatment is linked to a greater likelihood of delinquent behavior. Child maltreatment can be defined as emotional abuse, physical neglect and sexual abuse (Fagan & Benedini, 2018). It is mentioned however, that not all studies have shown to link child maltreatment and delinquency because research suggests delinquent impact is dependent to the developmental stage where it’s experienced. Dee Dee had substantially abused Gypsy, physically and psychologically in all her developmental stages. The abuse Gypsy encountered in her adolescent stage was arguably more impactful to her delinquency. This stage is reserved for maturing moments of an individual’s life, though Gypsy wasn’t permitted to maintain crucial relationships between friends, or other adult figures in her life.

    Social control theories visualize obvious solutions for individuals who suffer from weak bonds with society. Simply said, individuals who engage in school-based activities or recreational activities have less time available for delinquent activities. Some options Williams and McShane offer are activities like 4-H, Scouts, and Little League Baseball. These programs teach children conventional values. Making these options more affordable for children and families could prevent self-interested behavior from growing. In the case of Dee Dee and Gypsy however, though the bonds to society had all been weak, the problem was entirely perpetuated by Dee Dee. The only solution Gypsy felt she had, was to get away from her mother’s toxicity. The actual solution could have been through doctors, social workers, and police investigation. The negligence these professionals displayed should be prevented through harsher investigatory practices upon suspicion of child maltreatment.

    While certain crimes are inevitable because social control theory states that all people act in self-interest, some delinquent behavior can be avoided through collective effort. The demise of Dee Dee Blanchard was a tragic event, but the actions against Gypsy during her childhood were more deplorable. The theory of Hirschi’s social control says that Gypsy acted in delinquent behavior because of four crucial bonds that were broken: attachment, involvement, commitment, and belief. A major drawback to the theory of social control is it is difficult to determine the strength of the relationship between bonds and delinquency given the disparities in research methods across studies. To improve this theory, theorists should scrutinize and expand the relationship between the bonds and potential anti-social aspects of society. In other words, Hirschi says maintaining peer relationships could help prevent delinquent behavior, but if an individual is associating with delinquent people, opportunities for delinquency may arise.

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    Dinquent Essay. (2018, Jun 11). Retrieved from

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