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Criminology is the scientific study of crime that dates from the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment. It encompasses all aspects of crime and punishment, including the nature of crime, the characteristics of criminals, the causes of crime, and efforts to control crime and punish offenders, including efforts by the police, courts, and correctional agencies. This entry concentrates on the causes of crime.

Criminologists have developed several major theories to explain the causes of crime, describing the individual characteristics and environmental factors that lead to criminal behavior. Some theories try to explain why certain individuals are more likely than others are to engage in crime. Other theories focus on the reasons why certain groups of people have higher rates of crime than other groups; for instance, males have higher ...

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