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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of crime and whether it is a product of nature or nurture.

These kinds of topics are really common on IELTS so it is good practice for you to read my sample answer below.

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IELTS Essay: Crime and Human Nature

Many researchers believe that we can now study the behaviour of children to see if they will grow up to be criminals, while others disagree.

To what extent do you think crime is determined by genetics?

Is it possible to stop children from growing up to be criminals?

There are many psychologists today who believe that crime comes from inborn, genetic characteristics. In my opinion, genetics play a small role in criminal behaviour and it is much more sensible to combat crime by looking to family circumstances.

Those who believe strongly in the role of genetics in determining future behaviour can point to case examples and hard data. It is very common for the children of violent criminals to display some degree of abnormal behaviour as children and later in life. Scientists can ground their theories of crime by mapping the genetic code of an individual and then identifying similarities between the family members of criminals. However, their results may uncover some genetic factors but it is much more likely that a child raised by a criminal will simply have a poor upbringing and social factors will explain their anti-social behaviour. This is supported by recent research into developmental psychology showing the physical changes that occur in brain formation as a result of upbringing.

Therefore, it is largely possible to prevent most crime by taking an active, positive role in childcare. A good counter-example of this comes from the case studies of serials killers. Without exception, all serial killers came from abusive, broken homes. The physical and sexual abuse present in their childhood, later manifested itself in their compulsions to exert power over others. Naturally, this does not mean that abuse necessarily leads to crime, as many others overcome their difficult backgrounds to become well-adjusted adults. It does, however, imply a large proportion of criminal behaviour can be prevented by a supportive family environment. Knowing that they are loved and accepted by their parents, will make children less likely to seek attention through bad behaviour or abuse drugs to cope with their problems, both of which are early indicators of possible criminality.

In conclusion, though nature may be a marginal factor in criminal psychology, I believe that emphasis on the social environment is the real key to fighting crime. It is therefore important to invest in social services, education, and child welfare programs.

Analysis

1. There are many psychologists today who believe that crime comes from inborn, genetic characteristics. 2. In my opinion, genetics play a small role in criminal behaviour and it is much more sensible to combat crime by looking to family circumstances.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about writing your introduction here.

1. Those who believe strongly in the role of genetics in determining future behaviour can point to case examples and hard data. 2. It is very common for the children of violent criminals to display some degree of abnormal behaviour as children and later in life. 3. Scientists can ground their theories of crime by mapping the genetic code of an individual and then identifying similarities between the family members of criminals. 4. However, their results may uncover some genetic factors but it is much more likely that a child raised by a criminal will simply have a poor upbringing and social factors will explain their anti-social behaviour. 5. This is supported by recent research into developmental psychology showing the physical changes that occur in brain formation as a result of upbringing.

  1. Write a clear topic sentence with your main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Support it with research if possible.
  4. Here I weaken the argument mentioned before.
  5. I make my exact position on the first question totally clear.

1. Therefore, it is largely possible to prevent most crime by taking an active, positive role in childcare. 2. A good counter-example of this comes from the case studies of serials killers. 3. Without exception, all serial killers came from abusive, broken homes. 4. The physical and sexual abuse present in their childhood, later manifested itself in their compulsions to exert power over others. 5. Naturally, this does not mean that abuse necessarily leads to crime, as many others overcome their difficult backgrounds to become well-adjusted adults. 6. It does, however, imply a large proportion of criminal behaviour can be prevented by a supportive family environment. 7. Knowing that they are loved and accepted by their parents, will make children less likely to seek attention through bad behaviour or abuse drugs to cope with their problems, both of which are early indicators of possible criminality.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea.
  2. Develop your main idea with an example or counter-example.
  3. Explain the example.
  4. Keep developing the same example fully.
  5. Weaken your example if necessary.
  6. Draw conclusions from your example.
  7. Draw out further conclusions to finish the paragraph.

1. In conclusion, though nature may be a marginal factor in criminal psychology, I believe that emphasis on the social environment is the real key to fighting crime. 2. It is therefore important to invest in social services, education, and child welfare programs.

  1. Repeat your opinion and summarise your main ideas.
  2. Add a final thought/detail.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

There are many psychologists today who believe that crime comes from inborn, genetic characteristics. In my opinion, genetics play a small role in criminal behaviour and it is much more sensible to combat crime by looking to family circumstances.

Those who believe strongly in the role of genetics in determining future behaviour can point to case examples and hard data. It is very common for the children of violent criminals to display some degree of abnormal behaviour as children and later in life. Scientists can ground their theories of crime by mapping the genetic code of an individual and then identifying similarities between the family members of criminals. However, their results may uncover some genetic factors but it is much more likely that a child raised by a criminal will simply have a poor upbringing and social factors will explain their anti-social behaviour. This is supported by recent research into developmental psychology showing the physical changes that occur in brain formation as a result of upbringing.

Therefore, it is largely possible to prevent most crime by taking an active, positive role in childcare. A good counter-example of this comes from the case studies of serials killers. Without exception, all serial killers came from abusive, broken homes. The physical and sexual abuse present in their childhood, later manifested itself in their compulsions to exert power over others. Naturally, this does not mean that abuse necessarily leads to crime, as many others overcome their difficult backgrounds to become well-adjusted adults. It does, however, imply a large proportion of criminal behaviour can be prevented by a supportive family environment. Knowing that they are loved and accepted by their parents, will make children less likely to seek attention through bad behaviour or abuse drugs to cope with their problems, both of which are early indicators of possible criminality.

In conclusion, though nature may be a marginal factor in criminal psychology, I believe that emphasis on the social environment is the real key to fighting crime. It is therefore important to invest in social services, education, and child welfare programs.

Answers

inborn gentic, passed down

genetic characteristics qualities from your ancestors

play a small role not much of an impact

sensible makes sense

combat crime fight crime

looking to family circumstances considering upbringing

determining future behaviour causing how they behave later

point to argue

case examples real world instances

hard data numbers, research

violent criminals people who hurt others

display show

abnormal behaviour deviant actions

later in life as they get older

ground their theories find evidence for what they think

mapping the genetic code DNA mapping

identifying similarities finding what is the same

uncover some genetic factors find DNA evidence

poor upbringing raised in a bad family

social factors what comes from parents, society

explain show the reason for

anti-social behaviour not acting within the bounds of society

supported by recent research evidence from studies

developmental psychology the study of how minds develop

physical changes differences in the body

brain formation how the brain develops

upbringing being raised

largely mostly

prevent most crime stop a lot of crime

active not passive

positive role big part in

childcare taking care of kids

good counter-example instance that shows the opposite

comes from result from

case studies examples

serials killers people who kill multiple people

without exception all follow this rule

abusive being hurt

broken homes unhappy families

physical related to the body

sexual abuse being hurt/used in a sexual way

later manifested afterwards takes the form of

compulsions uncontrollable desires

exert power over others hurt other people

Naturally obviously

necessarily leads to will always cause

overcome be better than

difficult backgrounds tough upbringing

well-adjusted adults normal people

imply suggest

large proportion a lot of

prevented stopped

supportive family environment good family

accepted not rejected

less likely probably not going to happen

seek attention want people to engage with them

abuse drugs to cope with their problems take drugs to feel better

early indicators signals

possible criminality potential criminal behaviour

nature genetics

marginal factor not that important

emphasis focus on

social environment family and society

real key crucial part

fighting crime combatting crime

invest give money to

social services welfare programs to help people in need

child welfare programs services to help kids

Pronunciation

ˌɪnˈbɔːn
ʤɪˈnɛtɪk ˌkærɪktəˈrɪstɪks
pleɪ ə smɔːl rəʊl 
ˈsɛnsəbl 
ˈkɒmbæt kraɪm 
ˈlʊkɪŋ tuː ˈfæmɪli ˈsɜːkəmstənsɪz
dɪˈtɜːmɪnɪŋ ˈfjuːʧə bɪˈheɪvjə 
pɔɪnt tuː 
keɪs ɪgˈzɑːmplz 
hɑːd ˈdeɪtə
ˈvaɪələnt ˈkrɪmɪnlz 
dɪsˈpleɪ 
æbˈnɔːməl bɪˈheɪvjə 
ˈleɪtər ɪn laɪf
graʊnd ðeə ˈθɪəriz 
ˈmæpɪŋ ðə ʤɪˈnɛtɪk kəʊd 
aɪˈdɛntɪfaɪɪŋ ˌsɪmɪˈlærɪtiz 
ʌnˈkʌvə sʌm ʤɪˈnɛtɪk ˈfæktəz 
pʊər ˈʌpˌbrɪŋɪŋ 
ˈsəʊʃəl ˈfæktəz 
ɪksˈpleɪn 
ˈænti-ˈsəʊʃəl bɪˈheɪvjə
səˈpɔːtɪd baɪ ˈriːsnt rɪˈsɜːʧ 
dɪˌvɛləpˈmɛntl saɪˈkɒləʤi 
ˈfɪzɪkəl ˈʧeɪnʤɪz 
breɪn fɔːˈmeɪʃən 
ˈʌpˌbrɪŋɪŋ
ˈlɑːʤli 
prɪˈvɛnt məʊst kraɪm 
ˈæktɪv
ˈpɒzətɪv rəʊl 
ˈʧaɪldˌkeə
gʊd ˈkaʊntər-ɪgˈzɑːmpl 
kʌmz frɒm 
keɪs ˈstʌdiz 
ˈsɪərɪəlz ˈkɪləz
wɪˈðaʊt ɪkˈsɛpʃən
əˈbjuːsɪv
ˈbrəʊkən həʊmz
ˈfɪzɪkəl 
ˈsɛksjʊəl əˈbjuːs 
ˈleɪtə ˈmænɪfɛstɪd 
kəmˈpʌlʃənz 
ɪgˈzɜːt ˈpaʊər ˈəʊvər ˈʌðəz
ˈnæʧrəli
ˈnɛsɪsərɪli liːdz tuː 
ˌəʊvəˈkʌm 
ˈdɪfɪkəlt ˈbækgraʊndz 
wɛl-əˈʤʌstɪd ˈædʌlts
ɪmˈplaɪ 
lɑːʤ prəˈpɔːʃən 
prɪˈvɛntɪd 
səˈpɔːtɪv ˈfæmɪli ɪnˈvaɪərənmənt
əkˈsɛptɪd 
lɛs ˈlaɪkli 
siːk əˈtɛnʃ(ə)n 
əˈbjuːs drʌgz tuː kəʊp wɪð ðeə ˈprɒbləmz
ˈɜːli ˈɪndɪkeɪtəz 
ˈpɒsəbl ˌkrɪmɪˈnælɪti
ˈneɪʧə 
ˈmɑːʤɪnəl ˈfæktə 
ˈɛmfəsɪs 
ˈsəʊʃəl ɪnˈvaɪərənmənt 
rɪəl kiː 

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

There are many psychologists today who believe that crime comes from i_________n, g_____________________________s. In my opinion, genetics p________________e in criminal behaviour and it is much more s___________e to c________________e by l______________________________s.

Those who believe strongly in the role of genetics in d____________________________r can p____________________s and h___________a. It is very common for the children of v___________________s to d_________y some degree of a___________________________r as children and l__________e. Scientists can g_______________________s of crime by m__________________________e of an individual and then i_______________________s between the family members of criminals. However, their results may u__________________________s but it is much more likely that a child raised by a criminal will simply have a p__________________g and s__________________s will e_____________n their a__________________________r. This is s__________________________h into d______________________________y showing the p____________________s that occur in b___________________n as a result of u______________g.

Therefore, it is l__________y possible to p_______________________e by taking an a________e, p___________________e in c____________e. A g_______________________e of this c___________m the c______________s of s_______________s. W______________________n, all serial killers came from a__________e, b______________s. The p___________l and s___________e present in their childhood, l_________________d itself in their c________________s to e_______________________________s. N___________y, this does not mean that abuse n_____________________o crime, as many others o____________e their d______________________s to become w____________________s. It does, however, i_________y a l___________________n of criminal behaviour can be p___________d by a s____________________________t. Knowing that they are loved and a____________d by their parents, will make children l____________y to s__________________n through bad behaviour or a___________________________s, both of which are e________________s of p___________________________y.

In conclusion, though n__________e may be a m_________________r in criminal psychology, I believe that e____________s on the s_______________________t is the r_________y to f_________________e. It is therefore important to i_______t in s___________________s, education, and c_______________________s.

Listening Practice

Listen to the video below to review this topic:

Reading Practice

Read this article for more ideas on this topic:

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31714853

Speaking Practice

Practice with the real speaking questions from the speaking exam:

Truth in Crime

  1. Why do witnesses of crimes sometimes disagree in their accounts?
  2. How can modern technology help solve crimes?
  3. Will teaching children to be honest reduce crime in the future?
  4. Should there be more severe penalties for crimes like libel?
  5. How will the detection of lies change in the future?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related question below then check with my sample answer:

Some people believe that children that commit crimes should be punished. Others think the parents should be punished instead.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.


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