Social Factors Responsible for Murderer Henry Lucas’ Behavior

The society teaches, or socializes, one on how he or she should act in given circumstances. That is especially so during one’s childhood, when one learns own society’s values as well as rules. A person’s socialization can be viewed as his or her developmental time when particular social and moral ideals are inculcated in him or her. Various social factors determine whether or not the conduct expressed by a person us socially, as well as morally, welcome. When a young person is not socialized on how to act appropriately or is erratically reinforced, precise ethical duties may not be inculcated (Akers, 1998; Sampson & Laub, 1993). That may give rise to harsh societal judgments, as well as an inclination towards criminality, as seen in the case of Henry Lee Lucas, a convicted serial killer.

Serial killers like Lucas are exposed to particular social factors when in own formative stages. Most of them, during childhood, suffer emotional, sexual or physical abuses. Most of them grow in societies and social environments defined by markedly unusual, bizarre, and cruel happenings. As a child, Lucas suffered marked physical along with emotional abuse. He was compelled by own mother, a prostitute, to watch several men having sex with her. He suffered cruel beatings daily. He was compelled to pick up food from the ground and eat it rather than eating from plates or other utensils. Although he was a male person, he was raised up the way a young girl is brought up typically until he was seven. Before his seventh birthday, Lucas wore dresses as well as long hair (Call, 1985; Cox, 1991).

Lucas was born in 1936. At 10, his brother knifed him, making him lose one eye. He wore a glass eye in place of the lost eye. The glass eye and his cross-dressing made him a frequent victim of bullying by colleagues of his age. He did not cross-dress voluntarily but was forced to do so by own mother. In a court hearing later in his life, he indicated that he engaged in crime since he hated people. He mentioned that he hated people since the society had rejected him socially. To gain the attention of the society, he expressed terrifyingly odd behaviors. He often claimed that by seeing his mother have sex with several of her customers, he had learned that one should not refuse others sex. Indeed, he claimed that the first person who he murdered was a girl, 17, who had turned down his demand to make love to her. In 1960, he murdered his aged mother after she demanded that he return to her house to offer her care. He was charged before various courts for over 100 murders (Call, 1985; Cox, 1991).

The social learning theory (SLT) appears to best explain why Lucas engaged in criminal escapes. The theory holds that criminality stems from exposure to, as well as learning of, particular social factors that predispose persons to criminal conduct (Braithwaite, 1989; Hirschi, 1969). It appears that since the society and family exposed him to varied criminal acts during his childhood, he might have become predisposed to criminal conduct via associating with the acts and their perpetrators (Akers, 1998; Sampson & Laub, 1993). As well, it appears that he might have turned into a criminal since he learned beliefs favoring criminality as a child. In addition, it appears that he might have grown into a murderer owing to exposure to specific social, criminal models.

Based on the SLT, one can safely assume that Lucas was taught to partake in crime by the society via the punishments and reinforcements it presented for criminal behaviors. The probability of the happening of crimes is rather high when it is uncommonly punished according to the SLT. At school, bullying was uncommonly punished. At home, no one punished the mother for engaging in prostitution and forcing Lucas to watch her having sex (Call, 1985; Cox, 1991). The society in which Lucas grew in as a child appears to have had beliefs sympathetic to criminality. The society may not only reinforce individuals’ crimes but also teach them such beliefs. The majority of individuals, as expected, learn from the society that crime is unwelcome or bad (Braithwaite, 1989; Hirschi, 1969).

Eventually, the individuals internalize that teaching from the society and hence have a rather limited possibility of turning into criminals. Other individuals are taught societal beliefs that support criminality. Such individuals, like Lucas, have a rather pronounced possibility of turning into criminals (Call, 1985; Cox, 1991). Lucas learned from his school that bullying was good since bullies attracted lots of attention. From home, he learned that aggressiveness was welcome since it was commonly expressed by individuals to settle disagreements conclusively. Often, Lucas grew up believing that various crimes were conditionally justifiable. He came off as having been taught by the society to believe that various crimes were wrong but some related acts were desirable.

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