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Social Correlates of Delinquency. The Family. Why Look at the Family as a Causal Context for Delinquency?. History of childhood and delinquency reveals that the family has been charged with primary responsibility for socialization of children

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why look at the family as a causal context for delinquency
Why Look at the Family as a Causal Context for Delinquency?
  • History of childhood and delinquency reveals that the family has been charged with primary responsibility for socialization of children
    • It is within the context of the family thatprimary relations are first formed
    • Basic values are first formed here
  • We have also seen that historical forces in America disrupted family life
family variables linked to delinquency the broken home i
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency: The Broken Home I
  • Variable interest in the broken family as a cause of delinquency
  • Early research:
    • Found that broken home had a profound effect
    • Seemed to affect girls more than boys
    • Seemed to affect whites more than other ethnic groups
    • Seemed to affect the affluent more than poor
    • Homes broken by divorce more devastating than homes broken by death
family variables linked to delinquency the broken home ii
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency: The Broken Home II
  • The broken home reconsidered
    • More recent studies have been inconclusive
    • Many of early studies were conducted among arrestees and in correctional institutions--possible bias in samples
    • Self-report studies suggest a less clear-cut relationship
  • Some concluding thoughts:
    • Divorce does seem to be more correlated than death
    • Broken home probably affects status offenses more than serious delinquency
    • Remarriage does not mitigate effect of divorce on youth
    • Continued contact with non-custodial parent does not mitigate
    • Little evidence that behavior of children in broken homes improves over time
    • Post-divorce conflict related to child maladjustment
family variables linked to delinquency family conflict
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency: Family Conflict
  • Intra-family conflict and discord have long been associated with delinquency
  • Various factors operative:
    • emotional disturbance
    • low warmth and affection
    • low social skills
  • Difficult to establish whether family conflict causes childhood maladies or vice versa
  • Relative consequences of the broken home vs. family discord
    • Recent review of literature suggests that both situations are deleterious
    • Children of divorced parents probably fare better than children of high-conflict families
family variables linked to delinquency parental rejection
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency:Parental Rejection
  • Generally believed that children need warm, supportive relationships to thrive
  • Most studies have used boys in their samples
  • Early studies suggested that rejection by either mother or father was related to delinquency
  • Joan McCord’s research finds that mother’s rejection is more significant in early years; father’s in later years
family variables linked to delinquency discipline
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency:Discipline
  • Gluecks--found that lax or erratic discipline was most associated with delinquency
  • Nye--found that very erratic, strict, or very permissive discipline most associated with delinquency.
  • Strauss--found that physical punishment tends to be more associated with delinquency.
family variables linked to delinquency family role models
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency:Family Role Models
  • Gluecks--find discipline ineffective when parental behavior is inconsistent
  • Hirschi--found that even criminal parents espouse conventional values. Intimacy between parents more important than role modeling
  • Laub and Sampson--find that parental deviance related to chronic delinquency
  • Rowe and Gulley--find that siblings have an impact on delinquency if relationship is intimate
family variables linked to delinquency family size
Family Variables Linked to Delinquency:Family Size
  • Some evidence suggests that larger families may be productive of delinquency
    • suggested that this may be due to a “dilution of resources.”
  • Relationship is usually seen as more indirect
    • resource dilution often leads to educational underachievement
    • family size also related to social class
a special case the abusive family
A Special Case:The Abusive Family
  • Defining child abuse and neglect:
    • Abuse--historically defined as “any non-accidental physical injury inflicted on a child by a parent…”
    • has come to be used more generically to include neglect as well
    • Neglect--more passive, referring to the deprivations that children suffer at hands of parents or guardians. Three broad types:
      • Physical neglect
      • Emotional neglect
      • Moral neglect
extent of child abuse reported cases
Extent of Child Abuse:Reported Cases
  • All states have laws for certain professionals to report child abuse, but these cases represent only a tip of the iceberg
  • Leading organization in reporting is the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (NCPCA)
    • Reported 3.1 million cases in 1995 (up 5% from 1994, and up 50% from 1985)
      • 26% of these were physical abuse
      • 10% sexual abuse
      • 53% neglect
      • 3% emotional maltreatment
      • 17% “other”
    • NCPCA estimates about 1,200 children killed each year because of abuse
extent of child abuse unreported cases
Extent of Child Abuse:Unreported Cases
  • Research by Murray Strauss in 1980:
    • between 1.4 and 1.9 million children abused annually
    • the average number of assaults for each child was 10.5 (median 4.5)
  • Estimates are that as many as 1 in 10 boys and 1 in 3 girls have been sexually abused
the abused and the abusers
The Abused and the Abusers
  • Most likely to be abused:
    • Infants (especially premature infants)
    • Illegitimate children
    • Hyperactive children
    • Boys
    • Circumstantial
  • Most likely to abuse (in order)
    • Natural parents
    • Step parents
    • Paramours
    • Other relatives
    • Babysitters/non-relative caretakers
what causes child abuse
What Causes Child Abuse?
  • Adults who have been abused themselves
  • Social isolation and alienation
  • Substance abuse
  • Social Class
    • This has been controversial, though most experts agree that there is a higher incidence in the lower class
    • Perhaps due to financial stress
relationship between child abuse and delinquency
Relationship between Child Abuse and Delinquency
  • Logical relationship
    • Abuse provides a role model for aggression
    • Abuse leaves one more vulnerable to stress
  • Clinical Histories
    • Studies of incarcerated delinquents reveal that a substantial majority have been abused in some way as children
    • Problem with these studies is that they do not tell us about the known population of abused children and the % of them who are delinquents
    • Also, it may be that child abused is caused by the delinquency!

Modeling of Aggression

Vulnerability to Stress



cohort studies on abuse and delinquency
Cohort Studies on Abuse and Delinquency
  • This method follows up cohorts of children who have been abused and compares their delinquency to non-abused youth
  • A major study by Cathy Widom found that 27% of abused youth (compared with 17% of non-abused youth) later had criminal records
  • Certain categories more affected by abuse than others; older, black males most affected
  • General conclusions:
    • Abuse increases likelihood of juvenile arrest by 53%
    • Abuse increases likelihood of adult arrest by 38%
  • In a follow-up, Widom found greater likelihood of persistent offending over time by abused children