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Social Correlates of Delinquency

Social Correlates of Delinquency

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Social Correlates of Delinquency

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  1. Social Correlates of Delinquency The Family

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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 Abuse Delinquency

  16. 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