Both competition and cooperation play a role in the satisfaction of human needs, but these complementary processes are much more effective for society as a whole when they occur in an orderly fashion. Unbridled competition leads to conflict, the resolution of which is not always satisfactory to both parties in a dispute. Conflict, of course, does not always lead to violence, and not all violence is criminal. Violence may be justified in order to protect oneself or someone else, and it may even occur on a massive scale in war and yet be perfectly legal. Furthermore, even violent crimes are not always the result of dislike; robbery, rape, and even murder may represent an uncontrollable attraction for another person, or at least something the person possesses. Finally, violent crime is not the only type of illegal activity. Many misdemeanors and felonies do not involve violence. These property crimes, such as burglary, larceny-theft, and motor-vehicle theft, consist of efforts to acquire the possessions of other people by illegal, but nonviolent, methods.
This chapter is concerned with interpersonal conflict and with laws designed to cope with it. The first part of the chapter deals with criminal behavior and how it varies and changes as a function of age. The second part of the chapter considers the nature and causes of war, which is organized violence on a large scale. Finally, certain age-related legal problems and how they may be dealt with are described.
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