Social structural theories attempt to explain why people commit crimes as related to the social structure of society. They are macro theories that address the broader questions about differences across societies or among major groups in a society. Social structural theories involve factors that can affect the individual but are beyond the control of the individual to change. They attempt to relate the extent of the crime and why they commit the crime to the social structure. Social structural theories do not simply try to locate individuals above or below one another in the social structure; they try to locate individuals in terms of their relationship to one another within the structure.
When trying to understand aggressive behavior among adolescents it seems appropriate to focus on the nature and quality of social relationships. Adolescence is a developmental stage in which the individual becomes increasingly involved socially. It is at this age that social relationships expand beyond the family to friends and peers at school.
The time spent with friends increases at the expense of time spent with family. For most individuals, these relationships are rewarding and provide social support. However for some these relationships can be frustrating and even abusive. There are adolescents who experience maltreatment in the form of acts intended to inflict physical and psychological harm including hitting, slapping, verbal insults, ridicule and expressions of hostility, dislike and rejection.
The central approaches to the study of deviant behavior often emphasize the importance of relationships with significant others. For example, Social Control Theory focuses on the role of social bonds and the extent to which variation in bonding with the family is associated with delinquent behavior. Accordingly, the strength and quality of relationships with significant others are crucial in the individual's decision to refrain from deviant behavior.