- In Hirsch’s social control theory, social bonds are the core concepts. Social connection refers to the relationship between individual and traditional society, which is usually expressed and maintained through certain social institutions. Hirschi believes that anyone has a tendency to commit crimes without any exception at all, and everybody has the possibility of committing a criminal act without controlling this tendency(Alston and Harley 1995). Crimes are not created out of thin air, but are related to the strength of the social connection: “The connection between the individual and the society is weak or was destroyed, providing an opportunity for crime, when juvenile delinquency will occur. “The reason for this is that the criminal act will lead to the weakening or even rupture of the relationship between the perpetrator and other important social structures such as parents and friends and other social structures such as schools and work units, which in turn will lead to personal fear. In this fear, he will control himself not to commit criminal acts; on the contrary, if there is a lack of social connections, individuals will not fully consider the impact of their actions on the interests of others, so that it will not be bound by the individual, they will be free to commit crimes and become criminals who will endanger the society.
Social links achieve the result of crime prevention and control through social control from four aspects: attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Hirsch classifies and discusses these four elements of social connections to illustrate how these components relate to each other and how they relate to juvenile delinquency.
Attachment is an emotional connection of an individual to another person or group, that is, the individual’s sensitivity to the opinions of others. When an individual is engaged in a certain activity or makes a decision, if he can take into account the opinions and feelings of other people or groups, this is enough to show that he has an attachment to another person or group(Alston and Harley 1995). The emotional connection to normal people has an important inhibitory effect on crime. If a person has a strong attachment to another person or group, he will not act recklessly. Instead, he or she will think and measure carefully before committing a crime and consider the damage that the criminal act can cause to others and groups. Attachment is considered a necessary element of the basis for the internalization of values and norms.
In the book, when the gang member shows such attachment, they will less likely to engage in criminal activities, for example, in the story of Cisco, he mentions that when he had good talk with his mom and Greg, he decided not to mess around. Also, when other homies propose to chip money to buy guns, he declined it by saying “ We made a promise to somebody”(Fremon 2008，38) . This shows that Cisco cares about the opinion of Greg and his mother, he does not want to disappoint them, because of them, he does not want to act recklessly. Attachment could be a crime prevention for juvenile delinquency.
Many studies confirm that juvenile offenders are less likely to establish close ties with their parents than do normal teenagers. Especially in control theory, juvenile attachment to parents is a key factor in explaining juvenile delinquency, which limits the socialization of adolescents – the internalization of social norms and codes of conduct. The emotional connection between parents and adolescents is a bridge between parents’ beliefs and expectations. If a juvenile is estranged from his parents, he can not learn moral norms and will not have feelings for moral norms and he will not be able to develop appropriate Conscience or super. Therefore, “if the emotional connection with parents is weakened, the possibility of juvenile delinquency increases; if this link is strengthened, the likelihood of juvenile delinquency will drop. This theory also shows in the book. In the story of Dreamer, he mentions that “ Ever since I was a little kid I wouldn’t stay in my house. I didn’t want to be with my dad and my mom”(Fremon 2008， 53) and “ He don’t do me nothing at all. It seems like as if I’m not even there”(Fremon 2008，53) . He expressed that if he can change one thing in life, he will change his father. His parents’ indifference and estrangement made him stay out of home. Then he eagerly find a sense belonging in another place, the gang bang, this inevitably increases the chance of crime.
2.a. Shooting and gang violence is not behavior, because they are not doing for the sake of doing it or just hurting people randomly, they are expressing their feelings through it, just like a language. In the story of Dreamer, he mentions that “Another reason is you want to be in it because you feel something for them. And you want to be there with them. Like, in other words, you have love for the ’hood. And that’s a good feeling to have”(Fremon 2008，53) . They join the gang because they can not find a sense of belonging anywhere else, it is a desperate move. They do the violence because they want to show love for the hood, they are fighting for the people next to them. When Greg mentions that there is no conflict in violence, I believe he means that there is no conflict of interest in the violence, they are not doing it to obtain somethings, they are just showing and expressing something. I completely agree with Greg, they join gang because there is no better place they can go, they do not feel protected and loved anywhere else. They do the violence because they want the recognition from the group. It is not that they are born evil and they want to destroy, they just align with the wrong group.
Alston, R. J., Harley, D., & Lenhoff, K. 1995. Hirschi’s social control theory: a sociological perspective on drug abuse among persons with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation, 61(Oct).