Aileen Wuornos Serial Killer through Social Control Theory: Essay

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The case of Aileen Wuornos is a difficult one, there are many factors that combine when attempting to understand why she committed the murders of 7 men and her practice of prostitution. Wuornos had a difficult upbringing as she was raised by her grandparents her mother was not in the picture and her father was away in the army as a way to escape from the sentence for the crimes he committed. Wuornos’ parents were very young when they had Aileen as the mother was 14 and the father was 16. The father, Leo Dale Pittman, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and after his time in the army was sent to prison due to his sexual acts against children. Pittman eventually committed suicide by hanging himself in prison. Wuornos was raised by her grandparents instead of her parents and that led to her not having strong parental figures. Wuornos had experienced trauma at a young age as she was molested when she was young and that led to a childhood of sexual promiscuity. It is documented that Wuornos and her brother had an incestual relationship and that Wuornos was known for having sex with young teenagers. At 14 Wuornos became pregnant and put the child up for adoption. Wuornos was also described as a loner with only one true friend her entire life. These aspects can lead to the fact that Wuornos had a warped sense of view starting as a child and that continued into her adulthood when she committed violent crimes. This falls in line with the social control theory of criminology, where Wuornos would become a product of her tragic life experiences.

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The social control theory relies on the principle that those with traumatic pasts often lead to them committing crimes later on in life. This is the case with Wuornos and her acts of violent crime. Wuornos would become no stranger to violence at a young age as she was molested and that led to her committing crimes of violence later on in her life. The social control theory follows the principles that a lack of solid background built up as a child and the experiences of the child lead to crime later on in life. The lack of understanding of social norms is key to this theory as quoted by the Oxford Bibliography: “Social control theories, however, focus primarily on external factors and the processes by which they become effective. Deviance and crime occur because of inadequate constraints” (Kempf-Leonard, Morris, 2019). The theory relies on the belief that those who commit crime were adequately taught the value of social norms which leads to those committing crime later on in life. This applies to Wuornos perfectly as she was not correctly taught the importance of social constraint which led to her violent crimes later on in life. Her past of being taken advantage of sexually led to her becoming a prostitute, and eventually that built up to her murdering those 7 men. Wuornos was a ticking time bomb due to her lack of experience with the norms of society.

The social control theory explains how Aileen Wuornos turned out in her lifetime and why she committed her crimes. It covers that because of her rough upbringing and not being correctly taught the correct social norms as a child, she became a deviant within society. Wuornos was simply a product of how she was incorrectly raised in the world due to the faulty parenting that she received and how she was alienated by her peers.

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Aileen Wuornos Serial Killer through Social Control Theory: Essay. (2024, March 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
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