This type of theory emphasizes the importance of social bonding, which may include an attachment to families and also developing commitment to social norms and institutions like in the school or at the workplace. They should be accompanied by the belief that these things are critical. This theory posits that there is a lack of social attachment among juvenile delinquents. The fact that families and other institutions are directly linked to us makes us direct descendants of their actions.
Among the proponent of the social bonding theory is Travis Hirschi. He emphasized adolescence as the critical stage in the life of an individual, which demands a strong social bond in society. If the bond is negative, then there is a likelihood of negative results witnessed. According to Hirschi, people will always deviate unless they are constrained or regulated. The social bond theory emphasizes the following elements, which are: commitment, attachment, involvement in conventional activities, and value system. This adolescent stage defines individuals’ selection between the conventional and the deviant ways or right versus wrong.
Attachment involves close association with parents, teachers, and peers. The stage of adolescents was identified as illustrating the possibility of delinquency increasing if the individual is integrated within his peers. Hirschi argued that individuals who are tightly knit with their peers demonstrated minimal tendency of committing a crime. The commitment involved the cost factor that resulted from engaging in deviant activities. According to Hirschi, an individual that committed himself to conventional activities had minimal chance of participating in deviant activities. Another pillar of social bond theory is conventional values. An individual who ignores the belief in conventional values has a higher chance of engaging in criminal activities.
Hirschi regarded juvenile delinquency as a product of the inability to conform to rules and norms of conventional conduct that are set in any institutional setting. The social bonding theory is closely related to the deterrence theory, which posits that criminal activities are not inborn but learned through interaction with others or in the process of communication. This learning may be through intimate personal groups through the definition of moral codes as good or bad. It posits that there exists a negative correlation between court appearance or the arrests by the law enforcement agencies and the rate of school dropout.
Another theory that is linked to the social bonding theory is propensity theory. This theory explains that individuals are exposed to definitions of what is good or bad, which may be acquired through exposure to families, neighbors, or churches and also in schools. This theory from the research justifies that the correlation between the appearance of the criminal in court and the school dropout rate vary depending on student personal traits.