Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Module 3. Criminal Psychology
There are 10 lessons in this course:
1. Introduction to Criminal Psychology
2. Psychological approaches to understanding crime
3. Psychology and understanding serious crimes
4. Mental disorder and crime 1 - Learning disabilities and crime
5. Mental Disorder and Crime 2 - Psychopathy
6. Gender and Crime
7. Youth and Crime
8. Psychology and the Police
9. Psychology in the Courtroom
10. Psychology and Crime Prevention
WHAT IS CRIME
Crimes are acts that break the law of the particular society. The Oxford English Dictionary defines crime as:
“An act punishable by law, as being forbidden by statute or injurious to the public welfare. An evil or injurious act, an offence, sin, especially of a grave character.”
However, we also have to consider does the law cover all acts that may cause injury to public welfare? What about damaging decisions made by the government? Also, what is considered a crime – as we have discussed above, some behaviours are considered immoral or antisocial, but are not necessarily a crime.
Think about the following:
- Killing in self-defence
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Taking drugs
- Killing during a war
- Failing to join the army as required in a war time situation.
- Making personal phone calls at work
- Using the internet in work time
- Using work envelopes/stationery etc
- Finding money in the street and keeping it
So, on the one hand we have crimes that break the law, and hence represent the ‘legal’ definition of crime. On the other hand, we have acts that offend our moral code which represent the ‘normative’ definition of crime.
We have probably given you more questions than answers here, but defining crime is not, as we said earlier, a simple matter. As we can see, crimes are defined by societies and by culture and the time that we live in. For example, it would not have been a crime one hundred years ago to not pay your TV licence in the UK, because there was no TV. In Victorian pharmacies, cocaine was sold, but today this would be considered illegal in most countries.
So what we view as a crime depends on:
- How crime is viewed
- Particular society
There is no objective, simple definition of crime. The meaning of crime is affected by the particular society in which you live. Therefore, we can say that the meaning of crime is actually a social construction.
Crime has several meanings all of which are socially constructed. There are crimes that occur within strict legal definitions and those that relate to codes or conventions known as normative definitions. They are usually formal moral codes such as religions, or informal codes such as socially acceptable behaviour.
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