Dangerous Driving And The Effects On Youth

Essay, Research Paper

Dangerous Driving and The Effects on Youth

In today’s society, dangerous driving is criminal and is also considered

to be deviant. There are different levels of dangerous driving, all of which

have different meaning to different people, some are considered part of the

social norm and others are considered to be deviant. Speeding for example is

considered to be a norm of society. Everyone speeds and this is not considered

a problem which needs societies immediate attention, however there is a line

which changes speeding from being a criminal offense to a deviant offense. The

following analysis will provide a descriptive summary of the functionalist

perspective, the social control theory and the power control theory.

These theories have been applied to a news story in which two young

teens from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Renee and Danielle Orichefsky, were killed in

a dangerous driving accident. The driver was Ralph Parker, a twenty year old

man from Halifax who lost control of his sports car as he attempted to make a

turn on the corner where the girls were sitting. This article involves the day

of Mr. Park’s conviction, the reaction of the girls’ parents and also the

reaction of Mr. Park’s mother.

The problem of dangerous driving as viewed from a theoretical standpoint

can easily be identified with the social control theory. The control theory

questions not what motivates individuals and society in general to indulge in

societal deviant behaviour but rather examines what is within the structure of a

society that causes individuals to conform to social laws. A social control

theorist would argue that it is social pressures that prevent people from acting

out in deviant manners; otherwise people would act upon inborn animal impulses.

In this case, Mr. Park it seems felt the need to drive his sports car very fast

and dangerously because it catered to his instinctive need for excitement. If

Mr. Park had been thinking about the possible consequences of killing two young

girls, he may have decided to slow down and be a little more careful. This is

because murder is a deviant act in our society and committing murder would not

be socially acceptable. Thus it can be concluded that that the structure and

organization of society is very influential in determining the conduct of

individuals in our society.

There are inner and outer controls related to the theory of social

control. Inner controls are considered as norms which have been internalized

through the socialization process. They are norms which are learned in the home

at a young age, and which are very relevant to an individuals level of self

control. The key players in inner controls would of course be the parents. In

this article, Mr. Parker’s mother is spoken of, but there is no mention of his

father. Because there doesn’t seem to be a father in this family, a social

control theorist might say that this may have had an impact on how Mr. Parker

feels about social and criminal laws.

Outer controls might have a strong impact on dangerous driving. That is

both formal controls as the threat of conviction and informal controls, such as

humiliation in front of friends, family and society as a whole. Society may

discount him from being a valuable member of society because his actions are

unforgivable by our society’s standards. People are frowned upon for reckless

driving, and they are shunned for murder, which is how people may interpret this

horrible event. Both inner and outer controls are extremely efficient, in

suppressing behaviour that is considered to be socially deviant and non-

conformist. Thus, according to the social control theory, when the strength of

inner and outer controls are powerful and pressuring, the levels of deviance

will be lower. On the other hand, if an individual’s controls are weak, and

outside societal influences are lower, then the level of deviance will increase.

In relation to this article which considering dangerous driving, an

individual’s inner self control, that is their ability to restrain from acting

in such a manner, is an important factor in determining what one’s decision will

be. The outer pressure from friends and family also has an influence. A social

control theorist may read this article and consider this person as someone who

did not conform with the ideals or society because his inner desires were to

strong, or because his inner and outer controls were too weak.

The theory of functionalism states that there is a use in society for

deviance and crime. The funtionalist approach considers four arguments as to why

this may be true, the first of which is group solidarity. The theory behind the

creation of group solidarity is that the fatal accident killing two young girls

will likely scare people. This can bring the community closer together because

everyone feels the loss when young people die needlessly. They will think of

the hurt that the parents and the girls’ must be feeling; this will create a

sense of community. The community may also think that something happened to

this young man to make him take such a risk in driving the way he did. The

feeling that most people have in a city is fear. People don’t speak to one

another if they are strangers. The difference after an accident like this is

that people will be a little more open to other people, at least they can speak

of this accident and how it has affected them. Durkheim would be annoyed that

this article does not include any mention of the community and the changes that

may be coming about as a result of this accident.

The clarification of boundaries is the second argument that

functionalists use to support the usefulness of deviance and crime. In our

society, speeding is not deviant, however, there is a line that distinguishes

what is harmful speeding and what is considered normal. Most drivers speed and

they do not consider that to be a deviant offense, even though it is illegal.

It has not always been deviant, but that has changed because there have been so

many lives lost needlessly. Reckless driving is also criminal and deviant, but

not to the extent in which dangerous driving is deviant. In this article, the

driver is seen as a murderer.

This article does not really specify that any boundaries could be

redefined because the actual events of that day are not clear. Mr. Parker’s

conviction is dangerous driving, but the definition of dangerous driving that

stems from this article is killing two young people, trying to clarify

boundaries in this case may be hard. People will still speed if they think that

their speeding is not dangerous. They may also decide not to speed around the

corner where these two young girls were killed. People can take this story and

construct their own definition of dangerous driving and drive differently than

that. It seems that it may not be possible or completely effective in

clarifying boundaries in this case, but this article will most definitely make

people think of their own personal boundary for driving speed and actions.

The social control theory rewards conformity. People can compare

themselves to the deviant and feel good that they are not dangerous drivers and

that they did not kill two people. The article states ?The Crown said Mr.

Parker was showing off and had ample opportunity to bring the car under control

it hit the teenagers.? People can compare themselves to this person by saying ?

I would not have done that?, or ? I would have been in control of the car?.

This allows people who don’t drive recklessly to get some sort of validation for

their caution when driving.

Innovation is the fourth argument for the function of crime and deviance.

Changes may be made to solve the problem of dangerous driving. Accidents like

this make people realize that there is a problem and they might have to take

action to improve the situation. ?Justice MacDonald said he would be open to

consider, as part of Mr. Parker’s sentence that he be required to explain his

experience to other young people.? One part of Mr. Parker’s sentence is an

example of this innovation. Mr. Parker is required to tell his story to young

people so that they will realize the consequences that will face them if they

decide to drive their cars recklessly. This is a move to prevent deaths from

dangerous driving.

The power control theory considers four aspects of the making of a

juvenile delinquent, they are: family class structure, Social reproduction of

gender relations, risk taking and formal state of control. This theory is based

on the belief that juvenile delinquency is fun. This person who has been

convicted, Ralph Parker is not a juvenile, but his reckless behaviour might lead

a power control theorist to believe that he was also reckless as a child.

Family class structure is not mentioned in this article, it is not

apparent whether Mr. Parker comes from a lower, middle or upper class family.

To a power control theorist, this is a big problem because, a lot can be

discovered about this person and their feelings toward authority if the back

ground is known. Mr. Parker was driving a late model sports car which he had

only owned for a couple of months. This makes the reader assume that he is

wealthy and that implies that his family may also be wealthy. However this is

not factual and makes analysis difficult.

It is possible that a power control theorist would assume this young

person came from a wealthy back ground and this would imply that this man may

have been deviant as a child. In his teen years, he might have also had a car

and nice clothes, as well as the ability to talk his way around his parents and

teachers because he had a wealthy background. If this was the case, he was also

likely involved in many sports and other extra-curricular activities which would

make him well known to his peers and teachers. He may never have been caught

doing anything wrong because he appeared to be a well rounded behaved young man

who no one would accuse of giving in to deviant behaviour.

Social reproduction of gender relations can be useful in analysing this

article because this young man took on the role of the ?real man? who drives

fast and looks cool. This is a stereotype which we have seen for many years and

has not and likely will not cease to exist. A man who drives slowly and with

caution is portrayed as a wimp. A power control theorist would say that this

young man was playing on the ?natural ? male instinct to drive in this manner

and have some fun.

Risk taking, which is the another factor is very relevant to this case

because Mr. Parker took a risk in driving dangerously. The irony in this case

is that people who speed or drive recklessly do not see the danger of killing

people as the big risk when they are offending. They are more concerned with

the risk of being caught by the police for the crime that they are committing.

Someone who is driving recklessly knows the consequences of having an accident,

but they may not be important to that person at the time of their action which

is deviant.

Formal state of control considers that opportunities to deviate are more

restricted for females than males. The freedom to take risk is given to boys,

this may have been the case in Mr. Parker’s family, he (it is assumed) did not

have a father figure and took direction from his mother. A power-control

theorist would argue that women give more freedom to their sons.


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