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Labeling theory by Becker deduces that, when a criminal is being deviant, it is because of stereotypes of being seen as a criminal by minority. Having been involved in crime before, the trust the society had on the individual is eroded (Helfgott, 2008). As this continues to happen, there arises a conflict between the criminal in question and the community. This is because, even when the criminal has changed, the community continues to label the person as a criminal. This puts the life of the individual at stake because any incidence of crime is associated with the person. Over time, the individual becomes used to the disposition and perceives himself as unwanted by the community. Due to this, the rejection may lead to mental problems as the individual might feel as targeted. Finally, the social life of the individual becomes a total nightmare whether in school or at a place of work. This article will attempt to explain the above theory using a crime committed by a juvenile in South Carolina (Helfgott, 2008).
A juvenile is associated with all nasty behaviors in a bid to satisfy his ego that is in most cases brought about by the influence of the environment in which he is living in. when a juvenile succumbs to pressure from the society that expects a lot from him, he looks for alternative to make ends meet (Vandelay, 2010). This might lead to the juvenile engaging in crime. A juvenile who hails from South Carolina was arraigned in court after being suspected for having committed murder of his grandparents. After thorough investigation was carried out, the court found out that the 12 year old was indeed not part of what had transpired although he was found in possession of a gun that was of a different make compared to the one that was used in the murder. In addition, the juvenile was found in possession of antidepressant Zoloft, a different crime altogether. He was later released after serving a jail sentence of seven years for being in possession of the firearm and drugs.
In the view of the above criminal case on the juvenile, it can be interpreted using the labeling theory to mean that the effects that come with such a thing are far reaching. The theory clearly states that an individual is likely to feel rejected by the community and the trust it had in him is gone. Putting that into consideration, although the juvenile was cleared by the court, the South Carolina society had already labeled him as a criminal (Vandelay, 2010). Still on the same, the juvenile in question might have found it very difficult to cope up in school due to feelings of rejection by his peers. On the same note, the academic performance of the juvenile in question must have failed drastically. The social life of the juvenile was put at stake due to the labeling. There is also likelihood of the juvenile's mental status put under torture.
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In conclusion, the theory of labeling is true if the above case is anything to go by. It reflects what happens whenever an individual is associated with a criminal activity. The above juvenile might have changed for good although he appeared as a threat to the community in the eyes of judicial system. This means that the sidelining, which he might face, is very misplaced. The act by the community to label him a criminal is in itself a criminal act. Instead, the community should welcome him back and accept him as one of them (Vandelay, 2010).
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