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Risk Factors of Special Criminal Populations

A special criminal population is a very serious problem within our society. All forces should be aimed at eliminating and reducing “social enemies”, such as serial killers and sexual offenders.

Thus, this paper introduces serious violent offenders, such as serial killers and sexual offenders. It presents and describes risk factors and causes of criminal behavior for each of the two special criminal populations, explores comparisons and contrasts between risk factors and causes of criminal behavior for the two populations, and provides the rehabilitation of serial killers and sexual offenders.

First of all, let us focus our attention on a special criminal population, such as serial killers. “…Murder by numbers (as serial murder has been called) is the form of violence proper to statistical persons” (Seltzer, 1995, p. 124). Risk factors and causes of criminal behavior for this type of a special criminal population may be varied: lack of money, revenge, insanity, etc. In addition, the environment, such as close friends and relatives plays an important role in the development of deviant behavior. This is a well-known fact that many future serial killers grew up in dysfunctional families.

Children’s hobbies and activities play a significant role in a future criminal’s development. Moreover, it should be mentioned that a killer, committing a crime, believes that he/she does it for the benefit of someone or something (for instance, society, mankind, etc.). Another cause of criminal behavior is different mental illnesses (madness, insanity, mental disease and other forms). According to Scott (1996), “…Most serial killers have severe personality dysfunction (usually psychopathic disorder)” (p. 2).

Thus, it should be noted that the risk factors range from psychoses, depressions, poor parental supervision and others. These risk factors can be a mix of both biological and environmental factors. For instance, serial killers have both biological and environmental risk factors.

Sexual murders, that is, murders, which have in their original basis, these or other sexual impulses associated with achieving or trying to achieve a criminal psychosexual discharge, have been known for many tens of centuries.

Causes of criminal behavior for sexual offenders have biological, psychological, ethno-cultural and social aspects.

There are many risk factors that have an impact on aggressive sexual behaviors, including serial ones. These are: organic brain damage (disease), characteristics of personality (psychopathic behavior and personality).

Compared with other groups of sexual deviants, sexual offenders differ from them according to their psychosocial performance and behavior in school age. In this case, they tend to offend animals, are interested in pyromania, fetishism and voyeurism, often are members of anti-social groups, and abuse strong and toxic substances.

Criminals, who had committed some rape or murder, often are in conflict with others, with themselves, and have high anxiety. Minor traumatic experiences can make them aggressive.

Comparing the risk factors and causes of criminal behavior for serial killers and sexual offenders, it is possible to conclude that serial killers’ risk factors are some psychoses, depressions, poor parental supervision and others. Consequently, this is a mix of both biological and environmental factors. Sexual offenders’ risk factors include biological, psychological, and social aspects. They can suffer from various psychological diseases, but at the same time, they can be involved in different anti-social groups, taking a great interest in fetishism or other different disorders.

The rehabilitation of special criminal populations should be direct at their treatment. There are various programs that are recommended by different specialists and which help serial killers and sexual offenders rehabilitate. They include as follows: hypnosis, psychosurgery, various therapies, psychodrama, chemical interventions, psychoanalysis, and others. There is no doubt that relapse prevention programs and of course incarceration are considered to be very effective forms of treatment for criminals.

Taking everything into consideration, it is possible to draw a conclusion that the formation of a criminal stereotype of behavior occurs through the formation of delinquent behavior as a result of adverse social impacts, and in particular, micro-social factors (disharmony within family, style of parenting, and dissociation of parental roles in family). Consequently, immoral behavior is formed in childhood, so that to prevent threats and unintended consequences, it is necessary to pay more attention to children, be kind to them, and try to prevent harmful effects on your child.


Lieberman, M. A., Yalom, I. D., & Miles, M. B. (1973). Encounter Groups: First Facts. New York: Basic Books.
Scott, J. (1996). Serial Homicide: We Need To Explore Behind The Stereotypes And Ask Why. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 312 (7022), 2-3.
Seltzer, M. (1995). Serial Killers (II): The Pathological Public Sphere. Critical Inquiry, 22 (1), 122-149.