Why do people commit crimes? This has been and will continue to

Why do people commit crimes? This has been and will continue to be one of the most thought about questions in the criminal justice world. There have been tons of criminologist over the years conducting researcher and performing different studies to hopefully find a concrete answer to that question. There have been so many different views and theories as to why these criminologist believe people commit crimes, that entire textbooks have been created talking about all the different theories and reasons. It is such a major topic that universities criminal justice departments offer a class solely dedicated to teaching students about criminology and what makes people commit crimes. When it comes to crime we are not just talking about adults committing it we also include juveniles in that topic of discussion. Times are certainly changing when it comes to the family makeup and the environment that children now days are growing up in. The times of the traditional family are no longer as dominant as they once were. We now have children who have teenage parents, same sex parents, single mother parent, single father parent, being raised by grandparents, and many more different situations then the classic mother and father household. According to Livingston, “The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017”. With this change in the amount of children living in unmarried households one has to wonder what effects can this have on children and their behavior. Behavior can be broken down into two separate categories one being the child’s physical behaviors, and second, their mental or emotional behavior. From a crime standpoint how does the absence of a parent in a household effect the likelihood of a child becoming delinquent? For starters delinquency is defined as, “criminal behavior, especially that carried out by a juvenile…conduct that does not conform to the legal or moral standards of society” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). By the term juvenile we are talking about any child under the age of 18. A few examples of delinquent behavior are using drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, stealing from a store, vandalism, skipping school and any other rule, or law in place that is broken. When looking at crimes such as substance abuse, selling drugs, or gang involvement such acts are not ones that will make a community a very successful place. The juveniles in communities all over the world are extremely important because they are the future. As cliché as that may sound it is certainly true. The kids living in your community right now are going to be the ones cooking food at restaurants, owning businesses, and could even one day be the doctor or nurse taking care of you. Now imagine if the majority of children in the generations to come no longer have an appropriate environment or community to grow up in and the involvement in gangs increases or the rates of substance abuse increase, what type of community would that be? Certainly not one that people would want to be a part of. There have been many studies over the years that have looked to identify causes or factors that lead a juvenile down a path of delinquency. When it comes to the development of a juvenile and helping steer them down a good path the first thing that pops up in people’s minds are the child’s parents and were they raised by one or two parents. The parents are the ones who created the child and brought him or her into the world, so it is safe to assume that they are responsible for the upbringing of that child. Whether parents realize it or not their child pays attention to their actions and models what they see and how their parents act There is a ton of pressure on the parents which of course means there are many factors that can increase their child’s chances of becoming delinquent and Shader states a few examples that could increase a childs chances of delinquent behavior, “Antisocial parents, Low socioeconomic, Poor parent-child relationship, Harsh, lax, or inconsistent discipline, and Neglect” (n.d). When it comes to the household of a single parent, neglect, low socioeconomic status, and poor parent-child relationships are a few factors that jump out as being very likely to happen. Which is why the chances of a child becoming delinquent are much better in a single parent household than a two parent one. When comparing single parent households with two parent’s households there has been differences found in the behavioral and emotional problems of children from these two environments. For example there was a study conducted by three individuals, Maurya, Parasar, and Sharma, were they selected 30 male students and 30 female students from a group of single parent households and two parent households. 30 percent of the group came from the lower socioeconomic status, 38.3 percent from the middle, and 31.7 from the upper class. 70 percent of the group lived in in urban areas while the remaining 30 percent were from semi-urban areas. For this study the Emotional and Behavior Problem Scale-Second Edition (EBPS-2) was used. It was used by the three researchers to identify any learning problems, interpersonal relations, inappropriate behavior, unhappiness, depression, physical symptoms, and fears of the students. After test was given the results came back, “showing that significant Results difference on emotional and behavioral problem between single parent and both the parents’ students were found” (Maurya, Parasar, & Sharma, 2015). One notable thing about this study was that there was only 30 percent of the participants who were in the lower socioeconomic status class and the rest of the 70 percent was made up of the middle and upper class. We all know that living in poverty or at the lower end of the social class can present a whole bunch of challenges. It’s hard to survive when you are living paycheck to paycheck let alone take care of a child. The results of this study show that even members of the middle and upper classes can struggle when it comes to a child’s behaviors. Even when the single parents were making good enough money to classify them in the middle or upper class that did not help with the emotional and behavioral problems of the child. These single parents still struggled when compared to the households of both parents. The effects of the family structure are another important aspect to understand when looking at how much of an impact parents have on a child’s behavior. To help illustrate these effects there was a study done by Vanassche, Sodermans, Matthijs, and Swicegood. Their research took place in the region of Flanders Belgium. It involved 1,688 students ranging from ages of 12-18, and were from ten different schools all across the Flanders region of Belgium. This wide range of different schools helped create a better representation of a unbiased population because they surveyed kids from all over the region not just one district giving them students from all different socioeconomic statuses and cultural backgrounds. There were many different hypothesis they were looking to prove or disprove and they were as follows, “H1a: Children in non-intact families show higher levels of externalizing behavior (alcohol consumption and delinquency) than children in intact families. H1b: Girls in stepfamilies show higher levels of externalizing behavior than girls in single-parent families. H1c: Boys in single-parent families show higher levels of externalizing behavior than boys in stepfamilies.” (2014). They used a questionnaire, where all 1,688 students filled it out in order to collect their data. This survey consisted of 11 questions that asked things such as, have you ever been arrested by the police, set something on fire, painted graffiti, and many more. For each of these questions the students were supposed to put a number 1-4 as their answer, where 1 indicated never, 2 represented one time, 3 meant they had done it two or three times, and 4 equaled four or more times. Based on the number the person used to answer each question they would add up their total score, so 11 would be the lowest possible and 44 would be the highest. They labeled those who scored anything above 15 as high delinquents. After analyzing the data they collected they came up with the following results. First that boys reported to have more delinquent behavior than girls. Secondly when looking at the comparisons between those from a single parent household and two parent households, 44% of boys from single parent households and 32% from steps family households were classified as high delinquent. Meanwhile only 37% of boys from two parent households were classified as high delinquent. Only 28% of boys from single parent households were classified as not delinquent, compared to the 41% of boys from two parent households that were classified as not delinquent. Now looking at the results that were found for girls, 63% of girls from two parent households were classified as not delinquent. Comparing this to girls from single parent households where 51% were not delinquent and 40% from step family households were not delinquent. From these statistics we can conclude a few things. First and foremost is that the structure of a family does matter. As we can see when a child was part of an intact family meaning they have both parents living at the same household taking care of them there is a higher chance that child will not display delinquent behavior. The next greatest percentages of a child not displaying delinquent behavior is if they are part of a family structure where the child’s parents are divorced. Lastly, the single parent households had the highest percentage of students classified as high delinquents. One of the biggest obstacles that single parent households face are financial issues. In 2012 the average salary of a single mother family was $25,493 and the average for a single father family was $36,471 (legal momentum, 2014). Meanwhile the average income a two parent household that year was $81,455. Making less than $40,000 a year is a difficult thing to do when you are tasked with raising a family. There are many challenges that come from having financial issues and in 2013 according to Legal Momentum, “33% of single parent families were food insecure,” (2014). Providing for your child becomes much more difficult when there is only one source of income. A low socioeconomic status was on of Shader’s risk factors for delinquency of children. Another one of the risk factors stated earlier in this paper was poverty and “The poverty rate for children in single parent families is triple the rate for children in two parent families. In 2012, 42% of children in single parent families were poor, compared to 13% of children in two parent families” (Legal Momentum, 2014). When it comes to children living in poverty there have been many associations to the health of the child and dropping out of school. One can find numerous reports linking dropping out of school and delinquency. How this relates to this topic is that it is the responsibility of the parent to provide for the child and make sure they can do things such as attend school and have the resources necessary to complete their work. With there only being one source of income and the high percentages of single parents living in poverty the task of keeping your child in school may not be as easy or simple with all the other pressures living in poverty bring. Birckhead states, “Low-income children are less likely to have parents who can serve as effective advocates for them, ensure that their educational needs are met, and provide appropriate supervision and support for them outside of school hours” (2012). All of which are major factors that can increase a child’s chance of becoming delinquent. It is near impossible for a juvenile to take care of themselves and do so in which they are taking steps to have healthy and successful life. That is what the role of the parent is, too give their child the necessary tools and guidance that they need to be able to go off on their own and be successful. When looking at things such as parental involvement we are talking about acts such as the parent(s) knowing what their child is up to on a day to day basis, or in other terms can be classified as monitoring and supervising their child. Parks states, “The more leisure time that an adolescent spends with parents, the less likely the adolescent is to deviate” (2013). It is hard to argue against this because how often is that a child commits a crime such as selling drugs, or vandalizing a building when they are with their parents? Not common what so ever. For example if a child is at home with their parents eating dinner and watching TV, they do not have a very good opportunity of performing a delinquent act. The time spent with the parent is time spent off the streets, or hanging out with peers who are not the greatest influences. With the percentage of single parents living in poverty and dealing with all the struggles that come with that there is not many opportunities for the single parent to stay at home and have leisure time with their child. Parent and child relationship is another aspect that is argued as having a major impact on the likelihood of a child becoming delinquent. There was a study conducted by Kantahyanee W. Murray, Kathleen M. Dwyer,Kenneth H. Rubin, Sarah Knighton-Wisor, Cathryn Booth-LaForce where they looked at the how the parents relationship with their child affected their behavior. There were a few things about this study that made it unique than other ones. For one they surveyed kids who were transitioning from middle school to high school. This is a major factor because that transition from middle school to high school is one of the biggest changes in a young kid’s life. A survey was given to students in the eighth and ninth grade. The parents of these students were also involved in that they were given a survey to fill out too. The results of the surveys revealed a few different things about the impact of the mother-child relationship, and father-child relationship has. For starters “Paternal psychological control was associated with higher levels of aggression among sons who reported a low-quality relationship with their mother and lower levels of aggression among sons who reported a high-quality relationship with their mother” (Murray et al., 2013). By the term psychological control they are talking about how a parent tries to control the beliefs and emotions of their child. Looking at these results it is understandable to see why such things could happen. For instance if the son is mad at his father for how he might be trying to control his emotions it is reasonable for that child to respond with some sort of aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior can be what leads to getting kids in trouble. However if this child has their mother living at the house and has a high quality relationship with her, that could help calm down their child and be able to have a meaningful talk with them. Looking at this from the standpoint of does a single parent household increases the chances of a child becoming delinquent, this study shows more that it does not matter if there are two or one parents present in the house. The biggest concern is the relationship that the child has with his or her parent(s). As the results of the study showed, a boy who had a strong relationship with their mother displayed lower levels of aggression. Boys who reported a low level relationship with their mother had higher levels of aggression. Applying this to the scenario of a single parent household one could argue given the results of this study that as long as that parent had a high quality relationship with their child that can help decrease their chances of becoming delinquent.The education level of a child is another factor that is often associated with child delinquency. It is normal for parents to have some sort of impact on their child’s educational level, whether that be making sure they are enrolled at a school, they have a way of getting to and from the school, and possibly even assisting their child with their school work. Since 1990 the percentage of single parent households has increased to 28% in 2012 according to Amato, Patterson, and Beattie. One may assume that because a child is living in a single parent household they are at a disadvantage and their test score would be affected. However a study was conducted by Amato, Patterson, and Beattie where they looked at, “changes in the percentage of children living with single parents between 1990 and 2011 and state mathematics and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress” (2015).The researchers were able to use the MOMLOC and POPLOC to determine if a child mother and father lived in the same household or not. They used the NAEP results to assess the students’ academic progress, so the scores from this spanning from 1990-2011 were what this study used as their date. After completion of the study they found that there was an increase in score from 1990-2011, meaning that the increase in single parent households did not decrease children’s academic ability. They further their conclusion stating, “These findings are consistent with the assumption that most of the associations between single parenthood and children’s academic performance are due to selection”(2015). What made them believe this was because when they added the variable of the educational level of the mother they found there to be a relation between child scores and the education level of the mother.

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