Offences the Elderly Commit and their Explanations

  • Ezzat A. Fattah
  • Vincent F. Sacco


Criminal etiology is probably the most problematic and least successful field of study in the discipline of criminology. One reason, of course, is the complex nature of crime. No crime can be traced to a single cause. Causes of crime are multiple, varied and interwoven. Some causes may be endogenic (characteristic of the individual or his or her organism) others are exogenic (characteristic of the natural environment or the social milieu). Another reason is that crime is not a homogeneous category of behavior and criminals are not a homogeneous group. Acts defined as crimes by law consist of a wide variety of heterogeneous and diverse activities which may have nothing in common except that they are all prohibited by some law under the threat of some criminal sanction. This by itself explains why it is difficult, maybe impossible, to come up with a general theory of crime explaining every type of crime and accounting for every type of criminal. It would be both naive and over-optimistic to expect that one day in the near future there will be a comprehensive criminological theory that adequately explains behaviors ranging from criminal homicide to the passing of bad cheques, from price fixing to purse snatching, from armed robbery to child molesting; a theory that succeeds in explaining violent crimes, property crimes, sexual crimes, victimless crimes, white collar crime, organized crime and so on. Furthermore, the root causes of crime might be quite different for different categories of offenders.


Organize Crime Criminal Behavior White Collar Crime Violent Offender Property Offence 
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Chapter Three: Recommended Readings

  1. Alston, L.T. 1986 Crime and Older Americans. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas. Chapter Five: Counting Older Offenders. pp. 123–156.Google Scholar
  2. Hucker, S.J. and M.H. Ben-Aron. 1984 Violent Elderly Offenders: A Comparative Study. In W. Wilbanks and P.K.H. Kim (Eds.). Elderly Criminals. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. pp. 69–81.Google Scholar
  3. Hucker, S.J. and M.H. Ben-Aron. 1985 Elderly Sex Offenders. In R. Langevin (Ed.). Erotic Preference, Gender Identity, and Aggression in Men: New Research Studies. Hillside, N.J.: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, pp.211–223.Google Scholar
  4. Jackson, M. 1981 Criminal Deviance Among the Elderly. Canadian Criminology Forum. 4:45–54.Google Scholar
  5. Kercher, K. 1987 The Causes and Correlates of Crime Committed by the Elderly. Research on Aging, 9(2):256–280.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Newman, E.S. and D.J. Newman. 1982 Senior Citizen Crime. The Justice Reporter. 2(5): 1–7.Google Scholar
  7. Richman, J. 1982 Homicidal and Assaultive Behavior in the Elderly. In Danto et al. (Eds.). The Human Side of Homicide New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 190–198.Google Scholar
  8. Roth, M. 1968 Cerebral Disease and Mental Disorder of Old Age as causes of antisocial Behavior. In de Reuck et al. (Eds.). The Mentally Abnormal Offender-A Ciba Foundation Symposium. London: J.& A. Churchill Ltd. pp. 35–58.Google Scholar
  9. Shichor, D. and S. Kobrin. 1978 Criminal Behavior Among the Elderly. The Gerontologist, 18(2):213–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ezzat A. Fattah
    • 1
  • Vincent F. Sacco
    • 2
  1. 1.School of CriminologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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