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SOCIALIZATION’S ROLE THROUGH THE EDUCATIONAL GROUP IN PREVENTING DELINQUENT BEHAVIOUR IN MINORS
Abstract: The educational group is always a formal group, constituted on the basis of some institutional requirements and by the distribution of different roles to educators and to the learned that are in different obligatory reports, reglemented and controled from a social point of view. It is a group of forming, of modeling of some capacities and personality traits, of learning some components, of assimilating the necessary knowledge and abilities. The manifestations of tense and conflictual states can be generated by a series of anomalies in constituting the group purposes. The existence of a system of norms is one of the fundamental premises of constituting and maximum functioning of an educational group. The norm doesn’t function just as a reglating arm of pupils’ behaviour, but also through their content, that converts in personality contents. The degree of abiding the group laws constitutes also the appreciation criteria of deviant conduct and of grupal marginal phenomena.
Key words: educational group, traditional models, scholar society, individual particularities, adolescent subculture
1. Socialization’s specific through the educational group
A human group represents an organized social system, composed by a limited number of persons (3 to 20-25), animated by a common purpose and by a feeling of interdependency, possessing a number of roles connected between them, promoting specific norms and affective relations of sympathy and/ or antipathy. The group of pupils can be considered a small group, having all general characteristics of it: a small number of members, possibilities of mutual knowledge and communication, common purposes and activities and their corresponding structures, etc.
The concept of collective has its own meaning that separates it from the group concept and it situates it in the theory of the groups. The scholar collective can be defined as a group of pupils pursuing a certain purpose and develops a common activity, having own organs of leadership and a specific organization, correspondent to the purposes and activities made. The group is a concept with a larger sphere (the notion of gender) and the collective is the notion species, a type of group that reaches a certain scale of evolution. Two essential aspects are distinguished from the educational groups: the social aspect – put into practice in formal organization (statute, roles, etc) and the psychological aspect- naming their functioning of these characteristics.
As opposed to other types of groups, the scholar one has a series of particularities. It is a group of forming, of modeling some abilities and features of personality, of learning some components, of assimilating the needed knowledge and abilities. One of the essential particularities of the class-group is institutional domination of the teacher toward the student in their connection with science. This relationship doesn’t always generate positive effects over the participants to group’s life.
The class-group has specific characteristics as well as an own system of interaction, determined by the positions of the social actors employed. Scholar group possesses a series of specific socio-psychological features, to which other groups do not lack; the existence of mutual help and of some benevolent critic, the tendency to living in common of phenomena and events, and the perseverance in aiming proposed purposes, etc. Socio-psychological phenomena that characterize relationships and interactions of the members of its collective are its psychological climate, collective’s perception by its members, individual’s situation within the class, individual’s perspectives in report to the others, common self-determination.
So the group could become a real “laboratory” in which the students experiment, under “collective control” different social behavior.
The adherence to the group, the participation to group’s life represents for each of its members an opportunity of satisfying some psychosocial needs. Any type of group, including the scholar one achieves specific functions for its members.
a. Social integration function answers the fundamental needs of the human individual: the need of affiliation, of recognition, of affirmation, of status. The individual isolated outside the group is more fragile than the one integrated in a psycho-social structure.
b. The function of establishing the relations inside the group: expresses the tendency of the members of referring to group’s unity, cohesion, psychological life and of considering them positive values. Through mutual approval or disapproval, the group sanctions the actions of its members, their work results, attitude and behavior.
c. The function of establishing inter-individual relationships, each of its members can be found in the social mirror of the group, can confront the image of self, often revalorized with the image of the group about him/ her.
d. Security function: the group is a matrix, a “psychological cover” for its members.
The class-group ensures a certain psychical comfort to each of the students, a proper environment for manifestation, of being him/ her, of being valued with personality.
All these complex functions of the group cannot be actualized than through members’ activities; otherwise, they remain virtual possibilities of manifestation. With the help of these group activities, through the members’ efforts to obtain the mutual purpose it is put into movement the entire group’s potentiality and at the same time it is emphasized a few typical processes that each type of group achieves:
The task-realization process is appointed by the functional organizational framework of scholar activity: a specific organization (a class of students around an adult leader), a certain succession of sequences, and a specific rhythm of work. The task is common to all its members, but the variety of the individual rhythms of work and of the personal possibilities determines special performances.
The communication process: the class of students is an environment proper for communication (between pupils, teachers and pupils) bringing about the common task and the inter-individual relations of the members; an open communication, without formalisms and useless rituals increases the members’ trust ion group’s virtues, blocking the communication by mutual relationships to decrease members’ result. By functioning normally on the feed-back principle, it values each member, actions as a homogenizing factor. If, by his behavior the teacher makes him accepted by students, then channels of communication are opened between him and the pupils and conditions are created in order for the scholar group to become receptive, permissive, and open.
The affective process is appreciative, supposes correlating the preferential criterion, the socio-emotional one, with the axiological criterion. This means that the interpersonal preference isn’t spontaneous, strictly emotional, but a valorization through the help of an attitudinal system, of acquisitions of factional patterns.
The process of influence in a group (student’s class) represents authority’s distribution and it’s receiving. Life’s class develops by a set of rules, norms, and codes.
Group processes don’t have to be understood as separated sequences of life’s group, but in interaction. They facilitate the accomplishment of the group’s function, expressing life’s group development.
Features of educational groups
The manifestations of tense and conflict states could be generated by a series of anomalies in constituting the group purposes. This sort of situations can be characterized by the excessive predominating of prescriptive purposes and the high degree of correction over the members of the group, the non-congruence of the purposes and of teacher’s expectations with the ones of the students and the possible reinterpreting by the teacher of pupils’ individual purposes in the terms of experience and its aspiration level. The negative phenomena can also generate the absence of temporary hierarchy of the purposes, which generate sometimes stagnation and even the possible restructuring of the groups.
A different characteristic, as important as the first one, refers to roles’ structure. Purposes are materialized in tasks to be realized in common by the group’s members. The initial phase of every group is characterized by a state of incertitude, which could generate a certain behavioral ambiguity. The approach and solving of this incertitude determines the gradual elaboration of the ways of action and of a system of adjustment and coordination of the conduct of each. Thus it is realized an organization of group’s activity, the significant aspect of it being the structure of roles, through which each member with established tasks and functions. Each member of the group will be perceived by the others from the perspective of his role
The investment with roles within the group is dependant on certain variables, out of which personal resources are the most important. Each member represents a number of cognitive, affective and actional resources. The investing with roles of the group members leads not only to an increase of prestige and ordering and control of the conducts, but also to the development of these latent resources of each.
The main resources that a student represents as a member of the scholar group are:
His/her previous knowledge and experience, the level of his/her intellectual development and the ability to share it with the others;
His/her image about the group and about its members, which determine his/her attitudes, conducts and motivations;
Student’s sociability as an availability for the relations with the others;
As a result, any system or social organization implies two types of interdependent phenomena: on the one side, the institution with certain roles and correlated expectations of them, and on the other, the individuals with their personality, with their needs and dispositions, with their orientation and system of values, with the help of which the action in the given social system is realized.
This connection could generate two situations. When behavior is centered on the accomplishment of roles’ requirements we are dealing with a behavior justified by the role that has as an effect personality’s socialization; in the opposite situation, of centering on the personality traits, we are dealing with an integrated behavior, which determines roles’ personalization. Ideally, individual’s social behavior should realize a judicious balance of the two aspects, so that his behavior could be socially efficient, but also a generator of individual satisfactions.
So we can observe that the analysis of the roles allows us to better understand certain phenomena that take place in the scholar group, among which one of them is particularly interesting, respectively scholar violence, which will generate many of student’s following mistakes. Scholar violence has two big sources: the differences manifested inside the educational group’s standards and the different ways of cohesion around scholar norms.
The existence of a system of norms is one of the first fundamental premises of constituting and optimum functioning of the educational group. A norm is a conduct rule known and accepted by all the members of the educational group. It could not exist outside an agreement of the members over the respective conducts. Norms’ content is very important for the functioning of the scholar group. The norm acts not only as a regulating lever of pupils’ behavior, but also through its content, that converts in personalized contents.
Norms can be constituted and institutional. The constitutive ones are determined by the fundamental features of the learning activity as a social organized activity to prescribe rules of developing of this action. The institutional ones develop from scholar institution’s specific as a social institution of instructing and educating and comprise rules of behavior of the teachers and pupils within the school. These two categories of norms have a prescriptive characteristic, being constituted as explicit norms of the educational group. Thus, norms that were initially prescriptive and exterior become norms of the group, a blend of rules imposed and created, which command its everyday life.
Implicit norms are constituted as it goes, being the emanation of the group or of a part of the group and they are, in this way, more flexible, less rigorous. They are constituted in more ways. Some of the implicated norms are empirical norms, acquired inside the family, in the groups of friends and brought by the pupils into the educational group. In many cases the implicit norms are regulators more powerful to the group, as compared to the explicit norms, this thing having its explanation in their emotional charge, because of the direct and permanent involvement of the members of the group. The implicit norms aren’t always convergent with the explicit ones, a fact which often causes certain contradictions, manifested in terms of conflicts of norms.
The causes of these conflicts are numerous. Either it is about pupils’ greater attachment to the values propagated by the normative culture of the group, or the method of incubation of the explicit norms is inadequate, or a certain malfunction of scholar reports with social life, they all materialize in certain conflicts of norms.
Often, the conflicts of norms are caused by the attitude of rejection of the normative culture by the teacher. This refuse is amplified by the fact that pupils see in the teacher the exclusive representing of prescriptive conduct rules, which make tense and confliction states appear, that reduce both the performances of the group, and that of its members.
Norms can be used as instruments of command for behavior, of structuring the acceptance of their conducts. Thus, conformity comes to life, as one of the important features of life’s group. It is determined and supported by the degree of understanding of the purposes and of the identification of each with the group, of the attraction that it generates, of the force of the scholar group as opposed to the extra-scholar ones, of the level of satisfaction of expectations, of group’s cohesion, etc.
The degree of respecting the norms of the group represents also the criterion of appreciation of the deviant conducts and of the phenomena of group marginality. The evaluation of the deviant conducts has to take into consideration the system of reference (explicit or implicit norms), and also the “tolerance zone” in the limits of which is realized the approval and disapproval of behaviors. We could thus establish the degree of the different types of sanctions and rewards, meant to support the effort of constituting the best group, with superior educational effects in all plans.
More than other characteristics, cohesion is dependant on all the others, as being a concentrated expression of the degree of optimizing all the features of a group. It can’t be easily isolated and this is why it is hard to define. Generally speaking, cohesion expresses the degree of unity and of integration in a group, its resistance to restructuring. On its foundation lie a series of forces (internal and external) of motivations that emphasize even better it interdependency with the other characteristics.
Among these forces and motivations, one can enumerate the perception of the purposes (their individual and group meaning). Mutual perception in a group, the degree in which members’ aspirations are satisfied, the level of success of common actions, general satisfaction of group life, the existence of perspectives which ensure group’s movement and development. All these depend on teachers’ actions in the direction of the insurance of the conditions of manifestation of the group motivation.
The maintaining of the cohesion of the class depends, in a great measure, on the knowing of the informal structures constituted and their using in the educative process by the teachers.
A significant role in maintaining the cohesion is represented by the measure in which the educational group constitutes the source and place of satisfying students’ affective problems.
There are cases when this satisfaction is realized outside it, exclusively in the informal groups. This situation could generate tense states, dissatisfactions and dissolutions of the relational structures.
A different factor of maintaining the cohesion is represented by the motivation technique to which teachers resort to in the process of instr5ucting, which is the motivation through competition or by cooperation. Often, the problem of competing- cooperating determines unjustified oppositions between the instruction and education methods. It is about interdependency between the two aspects. Most researches show that the superiority of the methods that preponderantly appeal to the cooperation reports between pupils in what concerns their effects on the development plan and that of maintaining the cohesion and the group life in general.
The normal frame and the social dimensions of the instruction were, generally less studied. Recent researches show the major signification of these aspects ion forming a personality. The social aspects don’t represent just the framework of the instruction act, they are not exterior to it, but are implicated in all its compartments- from formulating the objectives to results’ evaluation.
The leaving point of identifying the social dimensions of the instruction is represented by studying the class of pupils from the perspective of its socio-pedagogical particularities and the mechanism through which it favors the act of learning and teaching. The class-group constitutes the psycho-social framework of the development of the activity of instruction and of education. It conditions and mediates the learning activity, the relationship between teacher and pupil, and the pedagogical methods. It authorizes and recognizes certain educational methods and relations, didactical behavior, and, on the other hand, determines the educational act forms, in its ensemble. Learning isn’t just an individual act, but also a social one.
Scholar reality has a transitory characteristic, this is why certain modalities of organizing and functioning ( using time, discipline, tasks effectuating, etc) have a certain artificiality, which makes of them just an exercise from the future social role.
Still, there are a few deficiencies of socializing in school (pointed often by specialists):
In school socialization is realized in a more systematic way, oriented according to the projected educational objectives. It can alternate deficiencies of socialization within the family, but it could also stay inefficient, because of the formal characteristic and the depersonalized framework;
It is possible that the rhythm of normative values promoted within schools doesn’t coincide with the one in the family or from other groups in which it is included, because in society a number of socialization instances act (a group of friends, street groups, group of interests, etc). The fact that the socialization patterns don’t coincide ( incongruence) could be described under three forms:
Parallelism : the values of a system don’t exist in the others;
The divergence: what value is in one of the normative systems becomes disputable marginal behavior in the limits of acceptability- in the others;
The contradiction: designates flagrant antagonism between the patterns of socialization; the sign attributed to a value is reversed in the passing from a model to another; a positive behavior within a group in older groups ( “ gang”, street group) is taken as an exception and transformed in explicit interdiction in the other groups ( for example, family, sometimes school).
The misunderstanding by some teachers of the finality of the process of de-socialization, as a “ social training”, through which compromise, the suitability to the instituted and imposed norm from the outside by the adult, standardization are favored;
Preferential treatment granted to “ good” pupils, with which the teacher has the tendency to interact more frequently and which aren’t more motivated in this way or more receptive to educative influences, once with the tendency to weaken the interpersonal connections with the pupils who have unsatisfactory results;
Tendencies of strengthening through severe behavioral sanctions applied to the so-called problem children, of tagging them in a negative way, of considering them irrecoverable;
The not knowing the individual particularities of the children: the educative offer is homogenous, uniform, and un-individualized and applied to children extremely different from the point of view of the abilities, re-activities, of acting style, etc.
The insufficient cooperation of school with the family, the lack of an informational feed-back between the two educative institutions, the absence or occasional character of some decisions taken in common, of sharing of pedagogical experiences within an open dialogue, from both sides.
The causes of this deficiency are multiple and are part both of the family( socio-economical and cultural level, mentalities, free time, factors of stress that orient parents’ attention toward other domains of action), and of the customs and prejudgments of the teachers. Among the latter, there are: the limitation of the educative action in the class hours, the ignoring by some teachers of the way in which pupils spend their free time, of the groups of affiliation, of familial problems, of which the child is marked, etc. Last, but not least, we remind the relationship of false-prestige of the teachers toward parents’ intervention considered as an intrusion in a domain in which they don’t have the necessary competences.
Many times educator’s self-image is built in report with a social canon (the ideal model of the “good” teacher) which can be more or less adequate with the real level of the person, in order to protect the idealized image of self of “threat” that comes from the others; a this type of teacher will resort to a series of “mechanisms” : for example, the reaction of refusing criticism, the exaggerated affirmation of authority; restraining or the un-accepting the communication with the pupils which he/she doesn’t appreciate and favoring the connection with the ones who facilitate his/her idealized image; the depersonalization of the pupil perceived as an object of education, etc.
The group of friends as a factor of socialization and the fascination of delinquency
At the same time, one could say that school, in any situation, promotes preponderantly traditional patterns, even inflexible, sometimes out-dated, in report with the social changes and with the socio-cultural environment of young age. Actually, it is about the much disputed problem of the conflict of generations in which, we have to admit, the elders are conservatory and sometimes intolerant toward young people.
The experience the adolescent acquires in the groups to which he participates is numerous (family, school, sport circles, scientific, cenacles), but, generally it leads to a secondary socialization with willing positive effects over teenager’s personality, developing certain traits and features such as: honesty, loyalty, friendship, responsibility, etc.
Because of the fact that these needs couldn’t be satisfied within the family or school, teenagers take refuge in the group of friends. Adolescence period is specific to forming a group of friends, of establishing serious, long-term relationships. In the reference group the teenager finds his identity, this group allowing his self affirmation. Most reference groups have a positive influence over the individual, over his personality structure. There are also groups whose influence has as repercussions teenagers’ negative socialization. There are the so-called “street” groups or “gangs” formed from recidivist individuals or with penal record, which manage to draw in their entourage numerous teenagers whose moral education isn’t rigorous enough and which manifest predispositions or even serious behavior disorders. These groups manage to train some teenagers in different acts and deviant and delinquent deeds, with a high degree of social danger such as: robbery, rape, body damage, steeling, forbidden substances traffic, etc.
Teenager’s socialization through the existent entourage within the school and outside it has a more important role than socialization within the family, because in contemporary societies teenager’s school period has increased, unlike traditional societies.
Thus, the notion of adolescent subculture could explain the way of forming delinquent subcultures and the attraction exerted by neighborhood gangs over the teenagers, because during the socialization process within the group, they influence themselves.
These elements were confirmed in a great part and by recent researches, presented succinct in this work.
The central concept in these groups, like in any other human group, is the one of uniformity. Within the groups pressures are being manifested by the uniformity. These pressures toward uniformity through the pressures are made by communication, the purpose of it being the influencing in view of reducing the divergences. Actually, when the pressures are discussed and exerted toward uniformity, the points of view can come close to each other, aiming to form a common, liable opinion.
More experiments – but also experiences- demonstrate that the presence of divergences in a group train attempts of mutual influencing which create the possibility of realizing a common opinion. The pressure toward uniformity is neither automatic, nor uniform.
The young man within a group in which are adopted the norms and values of the society in general, could integrate socially, being submitted to a sort of pressure of conforming to the norms and values of the respective group.
The scheme of learning in the group of friends is structured on logics and an explicative pattern presented by the theory of associations differentiated cumulated with the theory of delinquent subcultures. The fundamental sentences of this learning are the following:
deviant behavior is learned;
deviant behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in the process of communication;
The aspect concerning the influence in learning criminal behavior is to be found in social familial groups.
At the origin of learning the deviant techniques and attitudes and indirectly of delinquency, is the belonging to a deviant group. What is important in this framework is the note that Sutherland makes concerning the delinquent, as a product of negative socialization. He shows that after having learned, the respective subject doesn’t have to be considered a criminal ipso fact, as he presents just a high potentiality for committing deviant deeds.
These presuppositions and assertions have been, in a great measure, validated by the sociological research and are validated by social realities. One of these realities is in a great expansion and visibility at present, although its evolution expands on a longer period of time. It is about the “gangs/ neighborhood groups” phenomenon as particular forms of adolescent socialization.
In Romania, the forming of gangs or of” neighborhood gangs” isn’t a phenomenon that touches the level of the developed countries, but they exist and function by the same patterns and values, constituting the same sub -cultural and aggressive reaction toward the important problems caused by adolescence and the precarious economic situation of society in general and of some categories of families they are part of. The phenomenon of groups of neighborhood can’t be separated of the juvenile delinquency phenomenon, which has increased in a great measure in Romania; official statistics show an important number of minors and teenagers who come into conflict with the penal law, as well as the considerable increase of serious offenses, committed by young people against the property, the life and integrity of persons or of the norms of social cohabitation.
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