The research here analyzes what possibly found from Mr. Wes Moore’s delinquent childhood, leading up to his imprisonment for murder. This refers back to the story of the lives of two men with the same name; the biological, developmental, psychological factors, along with the familial, social, and cultural factors of one of the men will be discussed. Analysis of what played a role in causing or affecting his childhood difficulties leading up to his life of crime and imprisonment, including some interventions that should have been put in place based upon the same factors. Some necessary treatment strategies in childhood will be contained within this research as well (Argosy University Online, 2017).
The biopsychosocial approach methodically considers biological, psychological, and social factors and their multifaceted connections in understanding illness, health, and how health care is delivered (University of Rochester, n.d.). Wes Moore was a troubled boy while growing up in an impoverished section of Baltimore. His father did not participate in his son’s life, leaving the family before Moore was born. Although his mother was accepted into college, unforeseen circumstances came about; so she was unable to attend. She had to take up three jobs to support her the family in the home; so the boy was often unattended and lacked family structure. In his younger days, he went from using and dealing drugs, to murdering a police officer during an armed robbery—thus demanding him to spend a lifetime sentence in prison (Argosy University Online, 2017). We need to look at several factors that may have had a role in these issues.
Biological influences on very young children include constitutional and genetic factors, maturation, and neuroanatomy. The brain’s regions are influenced by the availability of numerous neurohormones and biochemicals, which interact in a different way to affect the psychological experiences in a person (Mash, 2016). Mental health can also be affected by infection or physical trauma.
Genetic factors are linked to many childhood mental disorders. Some disorders reveal themselves early in life in the form of being shy or self-conscious, while others show up in the form of depressiveness later on. (Mash, 2016). This idea of genetics being a factor of delinquency and crime does not necessarily give the criminologists the ability to decide from birth whether or not an individual is going to be a troublemaker in youth or even a criminal offender in the future. “It does, however, pose the question of to what degree of impact, if any, a person’s genetic makeup has on their likelihood of becoming criminal” (Wilson, 2011, para. 4). Some of the criminologists specify that genetics have very little if any effect on criminal behavior but rather estimates on the level of self-control that identify likely criminal behavior.
Perhaps Wes Moore’s mother had been prone to depression from not being able to attend school, and having to go to work constantly, which took a toll on her mental health as well. It is possible that it caused her to be too tired or have lack of desire to attend to her family properly.
Most mental disorders are influenced by various spheres of an individual’s experience, and have impacts on mental, medical and social and/or spiritual health (Dombeck, 2006). For example, Moore’s mother suffered from depression, which might have become that way because of a medical condition, such as arthritis, a social condition (perhaps from needing a good man in her life), or a psychological issue like low self-esteem stemming from the family’ lowered socioeconomic status and poor neighborhood and/or household conditions. Perhaps when Mr. Moore was just an infant, his mother was not showing the right amount regulation and structure needed for him to grow more stable as an individual.
Mental health problems very early in childhood are associated with many family factors including the parent-child relationship being of poor quality, as well as harmful or overly-strict parenting. “Early-onset, persistent antisocial trajectories can be identified as young as 18 months of age, typically for children raised within the context of multiple family stressors, disrupted parent-child attachments, parental maladjustment (e.g., maternal depressive symptoms, antisocial behavior), and nonresponsive, rejecting, or abusive caregiving” (Shepard & Dickstein, 2009, para. 4). Psychological issues, such as the low self-esteem, may have carried on to Wes from observing his mother’s behavior. It was making him feel unloved and ignored; thus leading him to risk-taking behaviors, such as socializing with the wrong crowd, seeking unhealthy relationships as well as being influenced by peers who were abusing drugs, participating in gang-related activities, and committing violent crimes.
Connections between individual and environmental influences cause abnormal behavior. Children’s inherited characteristics along with the influences and experiences in their environment make them the way they are today. Also, some of the child’s behaviors that are maladaptive, such as excessive worry or caution, may be more logical when considered in the background of the child’s environment if it includes school violence or child abuse (Mash, 2016).
Early interventions could have been put in place in order to prevent Mr. Moore’s troubled childhood, and to avoid the behaviors that later caused his imprisonment. “The preschool years are vital in setting the groundwork for preventing a child’s disorderly conduct and, in due course, his or her delinquency (US Department of Justice, 2003). Early intervention aids in the developing of a child’s resilience and strengths and it prevents the delinquency from occurring. One such program for small children is the Incredible Years program. The Incredible Years series is a set of wide-ranging courses that concentrates on children ages 0-12, along with their parents and teachers. “The curricula are designed both to promote emotional and social competence and to prevent, reduce, and treat children’s behavioral and emotional problems” (Promising Practices Network [PPN], 2014, para 1). In the starter groups, it can teach parents how to engage in play with their younger children, help them learn, give incentives and valuable praise, use limit-setting, and how to properly handle situations when the child misbehaves. In later years of the program, it involves teaching the children coping skills, how to learn and enhance proper behaviors, and reduces inappropriate behaviors.
It has shown through research that both prevention and early intervention are more successful than the past approaches that focused on remediating enduring and/or visible delinquent behaviors (youth.gov, n.d.). Effective communication and positive social interaction are just a couple of the many keys to help in delinquency and/or criminal activity, which unfortunately was not the case for Mr. Moore.
“More than 1 million American youth end up in juvenile court every year, and about 160,000 of them are referred to residential placements, including detention centers, residential treatment centers, correctional institutions and group homes, according to a 2011 Social Policy Report by the Society for Research in Child Development” (DeAngelis, 2011, para. 1). These are often ineffective, and sometimes make the problem of delinquency even worse than before—they are doing more harm than good. Among these younger people, thoughts of suicide, depression, recidivism (re-offenses), and acting out behaviors are often observed in these diversion programs.
Too many of the programs available today emphasize the child’s drawbacks and limitations rather than accentuating his or her positive qualities. Fortunately, there is an effective program like the Adolescent Diversion Project. This program takes undergraduate students in psychology through a course lasting two semesters; this educates them in the program’s theory and practice. For eight hours a week for 18 weeks, they help in mentoring juvenile offenders and their families on how to effectively cooperate and connect with one another. The students continue to team up with the young offenders, and the rest of the team works together to help these youths successfully avoid criminal activities altogether and reach more positive goals (DeAngelis, 2011).
For Mr. Moore, it is possible these situations with his delinquency in childhood could have been prevented by programs designed for others like him. The Anti-Bullying Program gets the teachers, and parents involved in placing and enforcing clear rules against bullying in school. Bullying problems had declined 50 percent in treated schools two years after the intervention. Additionally, school climate improved as well as the reduction of delinquency taking place in other forms like joining gangs, participating in drug use and violent activities (Greenwood, 2008).
Secondary prevention programs can focus on youth who have an elevated risk for a specific outcome, such as violence or delinquency, a group that might include children struggling in school, living in poor neighborhoods or those exposed to any domestic violence in the home. “The most successful community-based programs are those that emphasize family interactions, probably because they focus on providing skills to the adults who are in the best position to supervise and train the child” (Greenwood, 2008, p. 198).
Proven effective by the Surgeon General, Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is a short-termed program, and is usually set in the home. It focuses on youth aged eleven to eighteen who face problems with violence, delinquency, or substance abuse. The program’s aim is to alter the communications between members of the family. It is designed to improve the family unit’s functioning by enhancing emotional connections, improving problem-solving skills in it, and firming up parents’ ability to give better guidance, structure, and to help them set limits for their children (Greenwood, 2008).
If the prevention/treatment methods mentioned above were provided for Mr. Moore, then this could have had a more positive outcome and tragic incidents such as the murder he committed may not have happened. More emphasis should be put upon programs such as these at lower financial cost, and should be more accessible to reduce suffering for all concerned. Unfortunately, for Mr. Moore, his victim and the family, it is all too little, and too late.
Argosy University Online. (2017). Assignment 3: Biopsychosocial-cultural model. Retrieved from http://myeclassonline.com/
DeAngelis, T. (2011, December). Better options for troubled teens: Psychologists are creating and implementing programs that curb problem behaviors among juvenile offenders. Monitor on Psychology, 42, 69. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/troubled-teens.aspx
Dombeck, M. (2006). The bio-psycho-social model. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/the-bio-psycho-social-model/
Greenwood, P. (2008, Fall). Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. The Future of Children, 18, 185-210. Retrieved from http://www.futureofchildren.org/publications/docs/18_02_09.pdf
Mash, E. J. (2016). Child Abnormal Psychology (6th ed.). [Vitalsource Bookshelf Editions version]. Retrieved from http://vitalsource.com
Promising Practices Network. (2014). Incredible Youth program. Retrieved from http://www.promisingpractices.net/program.asp?programid=134#findings
Shepard, S. A., & Dickstein, S. (2009, July). Preventive intervention for early childhood behavioral problems: An ecological perspective. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 687-706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2009.03.002
University of Rochester. (n.d.). The Biopsychosocial approach. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/medialibraries/urmcmedia/education/md/documents/biopsychosocial-model-approach.pdf
US Department of Justice. (2003). Child delinquency: Early intervention and prevention. Child Delinquency Bulletin Series. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/186162.pdf
Wilson, J. (2011). Debating genetics as a predictor of criminal offending and sentencing. Inquiries Journal, 3(11). Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/593/debating-genetics-as-a-predictor-of-criminal-offending-and-sentencing
youth.gov. (n.d.). Prevention and early intervention. Retrieved from http://youth.gov/youth-topics/juvenile-justice/prevention-and-early-intervention