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Social learning theories hold that children living in even the most deteriorated areas can resist inducements to crime if they have learned proper values and behaviors.  Delinquency, by contrast, develops by learning the values and behaviors associated with criminal activity.  The best-known social learning theory is Edwin Sutherland’s differential association theory.  Differential association theory asserts that criminal behavior is learned primarily in interpersonal groups, and that youth will become delinquent if definitions they learn in those groups, that are favorable to violating the law, exceed definitions favorable to obeying the law.  There are indications that the theory has validity: criminal careers appear to be intergenerational, there is an element of peer group pressure, and learning deviant values may also involve a cognitive shift.
In contrast, social control theories maintain that all people have the potential to violate the law, and that modern society presents many opportunities for illegal activity. Travis Hirschi links the onset of delinquency to the weakening of the ties that bind people to society.           

  • Take some time to consider the role of a city planner, whose task has been to design a new city.
  • Prepare to engage in discussion on the following questions:
    • Given what you know about Social Disorganization Theory, what steps would you take to prevent neighborhoods that foster criminal behavior from forming?
    • Is it possible to prevent such neighborhoods from forming?

Support your work with scholarly academic resources, textbooks, or other sources provided.  Quoting or paraphrasing from any source in discussion posts requires APA format by including an in-text citation and listing the reference at the end of the post.

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