Study links criminal tendency to education

National 2 minutes, 27 seconds


INDIVIDUALS with low educational attainment are significantly more likely to commit theft than those with higher levels of schooling.

A recent study by Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) published in the Psychology Research and Behaviour Management journal revealed that prisoners with a primary school education were 17 times more likely to steal compared with those with a higher educational attainment.

The authors explored the extent to which prisoner sociodemographic variables influenced criminal behaviour in 64 randomly selected Bruneian inmates.

While prisoner sociodemographic variables have not yet been studied extensively in the sultanate, they said empirical information might be useful in profiling career criminals of Brunei as well as designing in-prison and community-based intervention programmes.

In addition to lower levels of schooling, the study noted that individuals who were married and employed were found to have “exceptionally high odds” for stealing.

Contrary to societal expectations, employed prisoners also outnumbered their unemployed counterparts. The authors described the overrepresentation as “surprising” considering that the majority of crimes committed, such as stealing, were of an economic nature.

Higher crime rates were observed among individuals with married parents, dispelling “a general belief in Brunei that criminals were people from a broken family background”.

“It is a worrying phenomenon to note from the results of this study that convicts with married parents committed more crimes than those with other categories of parents,” said the authors, adding it is difficult and challenging to understand the factors behind their finding.

However, the study suggested the parenting skills or strategies used may have had a bigger influence in raising law-abiding individuals over type of marital status.

Meanwhile, 24 to 29-year-olds committed the highest number of crimes compared with other age groups. The results showed younger prisoners had a tendency for violent or aggressive offences such as fighting while older prisoners were more involved in drug and sex-related crimes.

Based on an analysis of the type of crimes perpetrated, the authors explained the likelihood for stealing by theft or house break-ins was high for both young and old prisoners. It was further revealed that prisoners were believed to have a high possibility for reoffending if they were aged between 24 to 29 or 30 to 35 years old, employed and only attained a primary level education.

The authors recommended that prisoner interventions in Brunei should treat not only antisocial personality, psychopathy and mental health but also sociodemographic factors.

“Contingency plans and measures need to be put in place to ensure that security and safety in the country are not threatened by convicts who were projected to be multiple offenders when released back to the community and society,” they said.

They said these steps can be undertaken via in-prison and community-based educational interventions, counseling and psychotherapy.

While the study generated offending patterns, trends and norms that may inform subsequent investigations on Bruneian prisoners, the authors said the research needs to be replicated using qualitative methods to gain more understanding of the problems and solutions.

The Brunei Times