Criminologists believe that this is a strong predictor of criminal outcomes in youth. Early educational experiences, the negative labeling influence by teachers and peers in school, has been sited as having direct connections to later criminal behavior. Some studies have identified a peer effect on delinquency, where the peer group influences individual participation in delinquent behavior, which influences the later onset of delinquency.
While doing poorly in school may present other factors, certainly the reaction from teachers and peers and the discouragement or encouragement by those in power has a direct impact on the way the student comprehends him or herself. This has been found to have not only current societal but far reaching life consequences as well. On the other hand, positive labeling at an early age and continued positive support by peers and caregivers and other authority figures has an enormous influence in the further prevention of violence and other criminally associated behavior. . Succinctly put, labeling theory looks at differing labeling sources and specific relationships over time and makes an attempt to predict the onset of deviant behavior in juveniles.
Juveniles are routinely bombarded with different prompts and signals as to how they are being perceived by others. Through the act of role taking and other defining situations Adams, Robertson, Gray-Ray & Ray believe that juveniles are able to “accurately interpret the meanings of symbols and gestures used to project labels upon them” (2003, p. 172). This allows a projection of self into the role of an authority figure or significant other and allows the youth to make a self-appraisal or assessment through the eyes of another. The all too common response, “I wonder what they are thinking about me,” is a familiar refrain to us all. In some sense the self then becomes an object