Paedophilia and sex crimes in conext of labelling theory and the interactionist approach

Essay by karenasheUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, November 2003

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Over the years, many different theories have emerged that attempt to explain the actions of those described as criminals or deviants. These have proved the source of great debate among sociologists and criminologists, but there is not necessarily one that is a definitive explanation.

It is important to remember that crime and deviance are not one and the same, although they are intrinsically linked. Perhaps it is useful to first define what is meant by these two terms. Crime is defined as " offence which goes beyond the personal and into the public sphere, breaking...laws, to which legitimate punishments...are attached..." (Marshall, 1998, p 125). Deviance, on the other hand, is said by Marshall (1998) to have two strands: the first, anything that goes against societal norms but is not necessarily illegal (for example, homosexuals are seen as deviant but commit no crime). Secondly, deviance can be viewed as a stigma construct - more or less a label created by society (for instance, people wearing 'abnormal' clothes, such as Goths, seem to have been labelled this way, rather than deliberately trying being different).

Sexual crimes are often seen as both deviant and criminal, though criminal acts are to be what is concentrated on here. Rape, for example, is a vulgar violation and therefore illegal - however, it is also deviant as it is not a necessary method for a man to employ in order to gain sexual intercourse. Child sex crimes are a particularly potent example of this also, and will be concentrated on for the purposes of this essay.

Administrative criminology is a comparatively recent concept, so official records on numbers of children who have been sexually abused have not been readily available until relatively recently. That, however, is not to say that the figures we currently have accurately portray...