One afternoon at work, Natalie received a phone call from her daughter’s teacher. It seemed that Brandi had got into trouble, and Natalie would need to meet with Brandi’s teacher and the school principal. Natalie could not imagine what the trouble could be. Brandi was a straight-A student, played soccer, and was part of the school band. She also helped out with chores at home. On the way to the school, Natalie decided she would not jump to conclusions but would hear Brandi’s side of the story. Then, she would let Brandi have a piece of her mind!
At school, Natalie met the school principal; Brandi’s teacher; and a crying, red-eyed Brandi. Brandi and two other girls had stolen a pack of cigarettes from a teacher’s purse and were caught smoking in the woods behind the school. Worse, one of the other girls had stolen the teacher’s prescription medication, though Brandi said she did not know anything about that. The principal and teacher said that this was a serious breach of trust and was against school policy. They knew Brandi and were “shocked” that she was involved in this activity. In private consultation with Natalie, they said that Brandi was involved with the wrong crowd, but there was still time to intervene before she developed a pattern of bad behavior.
Natalie left the meeting angry with Brandi, but also feeling guilty and responsible. She had been working extra hours and was often busy with her schoolwork. Perhaps she had neglected Brandi or missed important warning signs. She would ground Brandi, but more importantly, she would pay much closer attention to whom she befriended and where she went. Natalie decided she would establish a schedule where she would help the girls’ do their homework.
Natalie felt tired. After all the years of guidance and parenting, how could “two stupid tweens” undo all her hard work? She felt she had worked hard teaching Brandi and Jenny how to make good decisions and to know right from wrong. She worried what the next ten years would bring. She pondered the possibilities of other peer influences, alcohol, drugs, and boys.
ased on the scenario, your readings and research, respond to the following:
- How could Brandi’s behavior be explained using differential association theory?
- How could Brandi’s behavior be explained using social learning theory?
- What are the strengths and limitations of these two theories as applied to this example?
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