The Relationship between Criminological Theory and Statistical Data


Write a 700- to 1,050-word paper discussing the relationship between criminological theory and statistical data. Focus on how statistical data can be used to support or refute criminological theory.
Discuss the pros and the cons.
Include at least two peer reviewed references.
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The Relationship between Criminological Theory and Statistical Data

A point noted by Stanley Lieberson in his book making it count (Lieberson, 1987) he notes that it is challenging for social scientists to conduct controlled experiments engaging in non-experimental research and trying as well as possible to create a useful use of the inferences from the patterns we find. However, it is known that it is impossible to isolate and measure with certainty the causal impact of a given variable. Criminology similarly is the use of the scientific study of the nature, management causes, control and prevention of criminal behavior at social and individual levels (Akers, 2013). Many theories have been explored over the years by the criminologist to limit the number of criminal activities and as well try to eliminate some crimes. These include; social control theory, strain theory social learning theory, rational choice theory, labelling theory biology genetics, and evolution, and social disorganization theory,  (Akers, 2013). All these theories rely on statistics to obtain the history and trends of particular crimes and then try to come up with the best solution for the same issue.

The development of criminology started with the analogy of statistical data on different types of crimes as well as by the sociologist’s mathematicians and statisticians in the 19th century. During that time, a considerable trend was established in the number of people accused of crime annually, the ratio of women to men the number convicted per year and the distribution of the offenders by age. While explaining his outcome and linking it to the prevalence of crime Quetelet (Morrison, 2014) blamed criminal behavior on the society structure and that those fulfilling it are as a result of the society structure. However, Cesare studied individual crime, and his investigation led him to suggest that crime is due to certain cranial skeletal, and neurological malformations concluding that some people were born criminal (Morrison, 2014). But a social scientists Lombroso instead concluded that crime was due to the predisposing environment and that people were not born criminals.

Reason why people engage in criminal activities-rational choice theory

Various theories are put forth to provide an explanation for the reason why people engage in criminal activities. For instance rational choice theory, which states that people tend to engage in criminal activities by personal choice. A person gets to weigh out prevailing conditions including the consequences in case they get arrested and then goes ahead to fulfill their intentions (Akers, 2013). It has been established that in most crime cases an example of bank robbery, the robbers tend to have one system of carrying out the criminal act. The offenders use violence to accelerate their activities which is a consistent manner in which such crimes are carried out hence justifying that such a crime is well calculated. All criminals are rational actors, and establishing a common trend showing that they majorly practice conscious decision making to gain maximum benefit.

Social disorganization theory anticipates that strong networks of social relationships prevent crime and delinquency. It is widely accepted that when a community or neighborhood signalizes a sound correlation, it is possible to influence the children, and the youths conduct in that community. It also shows that in the case of a wider network of acquaintances, there is a greater capability of the community to form an informal surveillance. The main reason endowing this perspective is that the whole community is willing to participate in the correction of the juvenile’s behaviors. However, some statistics cast the inability to justify the correlation to crime activities of the theory due to the community characteristics such as poverty and ethnic diversity which leads to higher rates of delinquency (Akers, 2013). These characteristics interfere with the capability of the community to work together. The aspect of the theory can be established regarding urban areas where there is a significant level of social disorganization and in most cases they are majorly affected by high criminal rates as opposed to the rural towns. It is well supported by the statistics and that is the reason why most authorities provide detailed security in major towns and urban centers.

Strain theory

The strain theory put forth to explain the cause of crime in a community tend to have substantial statistical evidence to justify crime causes. It asserts that people will tend to be constrained to act in a particular way to achieve or meet what the society expects from them, without consideration on the means used to achieve the social class. To expound on the original strain theory, Agnew noted strains in three categories i.e. the inability to attain positively valued goals, the removal of positively valued stimuli and to present one with negatively valued stimuli (Ousey, Wilcox, & Schreck, 2015).  Statistics and research confirm these views clearly, and it is considerably very distinct between the females and male. The female are more concerned with creating and maintaining close bonds and relationships with others which explain their lower affinity to property and violent crime. It is, in contrast, to the males who prefer property and violent crime due to the more concern on material success. Females face a lot of discrimination from the people around them and restrictions from families, unlike the male who are victims of conflict from the peers and hence tendency to be involved in crime. Failing to achieve goals can influence self-destructive goals, but men tend to choose to engage in criminal activities after failing to achieve desired goals.

Criminology theories have been very useful to predict or determine the reasons for involvement in various crimes by particular people. For instance, the crime of wife battering is highly associated with childhood witness of a fight between the parents.  It vindicates the significance of the social learning theory. The associations between the cycle of violence and the experience of childhood have been affirmed in the past with several researched ascertaining this theory. According to Widom (Widom, 2014), the cognitive content of hostility in childhood is linked with overall patterns of violent behaviors, which latter translates to a later violence in one’s intimate relationship. A review of six findings indicated that 23 to 40 percent of battered women witnessed violence between their parents.

Importance of statistics in criminology

The importance of statistics in criminology is crucial and helps in putting up measures in places that have a predictable association with crime. For instance through the available statistics, the government can identify that in urban areas are highly susceptible to of criminal activities. Due to this the responsible security organ will ensure that measures are put in place to take care of an event of a criminal situation and hence ensures that there is high crime prevention rate. However much important these statistical data are, how effective they can be, depends on various factors for instance the level of accuracy to which the data was collected. In case, there is some degree of inaccuracy the conclusion drawn out of the data may fail to give the true nature of the situation.

The criminology theories play crucial role in helping the community to prevent crime and minimize the impact of crime the society. However, obtaining data for the statistics to be used should be handled with diligence to authenticate the reliability of the outcome. Having dependable data may also be crucial to help in much more discovery of new fundamental relationships in different variables that determines the occurrence of crime and to provide further the authority with in-depth measures to handle crime and minimize crime in the society.


Akers, R. L. (2013). Criminological theories . Introduction and evaluation. Routledge.

Lieberson, S. (1987). Making It Count: The Improvement of Social Research and Theory. Carifonia: University of California Press.

Morrison, W. (2014). Theoretical Criminology from Modernity to Post-Modernism. . Routledge.

Ousey, G. C., Wilcox, P., & Schreck, C. J. (2015). Violent victimization, confluence of risks and the nature of criminal behavior Testing main and interactive effects from Agnew’s extension of General Strain Theory. Journal of Criminal Justice, 16.

Widom, C. S. (2014). Varieties of violent behavior. Criminology, 313-334.

Related: Crime strategy