Is Crime a Culture?

Is crime a culture? Culture is the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. We know that we are products of our environments. Our environments reflect our culture. Criminal thinking is usually learned behavior. So, to become a criminal, there must be some form of education involved. Robbers generally learn how to rob from someone that has robbed before. A forger has to be taught the “art” of forgery by someone that has forged a document before. A person that chooses a life of crime has chosen to learn a negative set of actions and values.

The criminal culture also involves the actions that surround the crime that a person commits. Robbers need customers for the products that they steal. Forgers need a way to find documents to forge. That creates an environment of negative behavior that creates its own culture.

We know that people that are not citizens of American tend to assimilate, learn and use the characteristics and customs of the citizens of a particular region, into the American culture. They learn the language and the customs that the majority of the citizens perform. That also means that they give up some of their customs, and replace them with the customs of the region, in order to fit in and become accepted.

Since crime is a culture, those with criminal mindsets must assimilate into mainstream society, and leave the criminal customs and behaviors behind. They must learn the customs of non-criminals. How does a person with a criminal mindset learn the customs of non-criminals?

In order to learn how to become a productive citizen, and leave a life of crime, a person must begin to associate with people that already have the values and customs that they want to live by. This requires effort. It will not be easy. But it is possible. And, you must be willing to let the bad habits go. You must be willing to learn!

One of the first signs of assimilation is the way a person dresses. We all have seen someone that came to America from another country, and they dress like they did in their native country. Little Italy and Chinatown are examples of regions that are occupied by immigrants that did not want to give up their native cultures. Those areas resemble the native land of the people that live there.

In order to assimilate back into society, you must not allow your appearance to speak negatively of you because the perception already exists that you are not worthy of another chance. You must “dress for success”. That doesn’t mean that you must wear a suit and tie everyday. But it does mean that your pants should fit, and no one should see your underwear. You should look worthy of another chance. Your attire should speak volumes because you only have one chance to make a first and lasting impression. Don’t stack the cards against yourself before you have a chance to be heard.

(Excerpt from LifeLine to Success: LifeSkills Curriculum )

Pastor Brown