Family Structure And Its Effects On Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency refers to the term given to children who have not attained the adult age. This is normally defined by the court of law. Delinquency on the other hand can be defined as the engaging in actions considered as being unlawful by the state. So basically, juvenile delinquency can mean any crime committed by a minor whether small like not going to school often or robbery and Murder.
Many researchers have agreed that delinquency is rampant among children living in difficult social, economic conditions. They view the problems as originating mainly from the family as the first socialization agent. They identified the main stressor to children as follows: The parent having a criminal record, children under child protection, parents having a semi skilled or no job, High debt levels, drug abuse by the parents, death of the household head, and illiteracy among others. (Laura L.Finley2007, p.59)
In a research done by (Hon-su Kim, Hyson-sil Kim 2008) in trying to establish the major cause of aggression among Korean Adolescents: Influence of the family, Personality, coping strategy, Alcoholism and Drug abuse, Sexual abuse and aggressive Impulsiveness. It was established that delinquent adolescents experienced dysfunctional family dynamics, greater anti social personality, higher depression tendencies and high impulsiveness in aggression. More still they had been sexually abused and experienced streams of drug abuse among the family members (p43).
It has been reported that children who witness incidences of violence among their parents are likely to grow up tortured due their failure to address each and every development need of their child. Violence may also lead in inconsistency in the style of parenting. Children may also imitate their abusive parents as a conflict resolution strategy either verbal or physical. “Sons who have witnessed their father’s violence are 1000 percent likely to mirror this abusive behavior towards their spouse in adulthood”. It is also reported that children who are exposed to several episodes of violence in the community or within the family are likely to become offers in their childhood through to their adulthood and hence an increase in Juvenile delinquency (Laura L. Finley 2008, p59)
Alcohol and substance abuse among the parents and within the larger community is yet another cause of juvenile delinquency. Children who sees their parents and close relatives abusing drugs and alcohol end up mimicking them. It has been reported that children in abusive families us the drugs in trying to escape the reality but in the long run fail to contain the effects of the drug and thus committing crimes under the influence a factor that the family instilled in the child (Laura L. Finley 2008.p.60).
According to (Hon-su Kim, yon-sil Kim2008.p.80).Childhood sexual violation is yet another aspect of juvenile delinquency in children. This is brought about by emotional, familial, mental and social problems which include sexual dysfunction, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorders and sexual acting (Swenson and Hanson, 1998).Children who have undergone through the above mentioned tend to result into immoral delinquent behaviors either consciously or unconsciously as a means of either displacement of as a means of life to counteract the horrific experiences.
Alcoholism in the family has been referred to as a cultural aspect that leads to delinquency. In the older African culture where husbands were allowed to marry many wives and all they did was just eat sleep and father children an aspect that did not go down well with the young men as they lacked guidance on what is and what is not morally approved in the society as they had lost a father figure to Alcoholism a factor that introduced the young men to alcoholism, joining Gangs which later committed crimes and so on.
Apart from Alcoholism and violence in the family it has also been argued that a family that lacks proper parenting skills may lead to a delinquency among their children. Parents who lack efficacy may end up producing delinquent children as they lack a role model to look up to .It is argued that delinquency can only reduce in such families if at list one parent is able to step up his or her efficacy and thus maintain a structure of morality. One of the most causes of juvenile delinquency in the American society to day is family break ups caused by Alcoholism and abusive marriages. It is reported that the parents act as informal agents to control the moral fiber in the family but once it breaks the children are left with the liberty to do whatever is pleasant to them(Larry J. Siegel, Brandon C. Welsh 2008 ,250-256).
According to Larry and Brandon family conflict is yet another cause of juvenile delinquency. They talk about not all marriages ending up in divorce but instead reoccurring in the family. The duo talks of interfamily conflict as being a common future in the American family today.(F .Ivan Nye )in his research on delinquency in the families perspective talks about how a Childs’s perspective of its parents marital happiest was a predator to deliquence. Modern researchers have supported his view by saying that children who are brought up in homes that witness violence and discord later exhibit emotional and behavior disturbances. The researchers have thus formed a clear link between hostility, family conflict and delinquency (Larry J.Siegel, Brandon C. Welsh 2008 ,254).
Juvenile delinquency, does family status play a role? Poor, Rich?
The status of the family is one of the major factors that contribute to the juvenile delinquency. The product of the children’s behavior is to some extent the product of the economic status of the family. The level of the family income affects the rate of juvenile delinquency both directly and indirectly through parental upbringing and formation of attitudes (Burfeind & Bartusch (2010).
According to Braithwaite (2010), the juveniles from the lower class commit crimes at a high rate than the juveniles from the middle class. These differences are brought about by the differences in the level of income between these two classes. The lower class is associated with low income while the middle class is stable economically. Burfeind &Bartusch (2010) adds that the environment of the poor class has an impact on the children. For instance, the children
The high rate of juvenile delinquency associated with the children from the families associated with poverty can be viewed from different dimensions. First, parents from the poor families cannot satisfy the needs of their children adequately. This children are therefore prone to stress and depression. When juveniles find themselves in such situations, they lose the control over their behaviors forcing them into delinquencies.
Children from the poor families are likely to miss quality education. This increases idleness in the juvenile. In this case, the juveniles are likely to be tempted to fall in different forms of crime. On the other hand, parents from rich families can afford good education for their children. This keeps their children active reducing their chances of falling victims of juvenile delinquency.
According to Burfeind & Bartusch (2010), the level of poverty and the lack of opportunities related with poor families contribute to juvenile delinquency. Children from the poor families are usually finds themselves missing even their basic needs. This forces these children to involve them in delinquency. For instance, the children may start stealing as a means to satisfy their basic needs.
Roucek (1958) confirms that most of the crime cases come from the poor families who are unable to meet their needs adequately. Roucek (1958):209) adds that many studies has shown that delinquent children have a higher dependence rate than the non-delinquent children .This further confirms that poverty level is a major contributor in juvenile delinquency.
Burfeind & Bartusch (2010) argues that parents from the poor families are more likely to use coercive displinary measures on their children and will not likely have time to supervise their children closely in their behaviors. These parents are likely to use severe punishment and threats on their children. This environment is likely to cultivate aggression in the children from the poor families which makes them to associate with aggressive peer ending up in violence delinquencies.
In most cases, the poor parents reside in the same geographical areas especially in the urban areas. This bring brings together children from the poor families. Because of the criminal activities associated with poverty strike areas, these children are likely to emulate these vices.
In conclusion, based on the above discussion, it has been noted that the family structure has a significant impact on the juvenile delinquency. The family has in one way or another contributed to the cases of children delinquencies. This implies that for us to be able to obtain successful results on juvenile delinquency control, we should pay attention on the structure of the family. There are some family structural setups that fuels juvenile delinquency.
The history of alcoholism as well and domestic violence has also contributed to the juvenile delinquencies. Children from the families where one or both parents are engaged in alcoholism are likely to fall victims of juvenile delinquency. Parents should therefore if possible refrain from taking alcohol for the sake of their children’s morals. If they have to take alcohol, parents should avoid bad manners that may lead to demoralization of their children. By so doing, juvenile delinquency cases will be reduced.
On the other hand, violence within families has been found to be another factor contributing to the juvenile delinquency. As noted earlier, alcoholism and family violence go hand in hand. Children who have been brought up in families characterized by violence are likely to end up being violent. Parents should therefore try to set good examples for their children by seeking other ways of solving domestic problems rather than violence.
Relatively, it has been found that the family status, poor or rich can affect juvenile delinquencies both directly and indirectly. To prevent juvenile delinquencies associated with parenting issues, it is advisable for the social workers to concentrate on educating parents on the ways in which they ought to bring up their children to prevent them from getting involved in crimes.
Burfeind & Bartusch (2010) Juvenile Delinquency: An Integrated Approach. Canada, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Roucek J. (1958) Juvenile delinquency.U.S.A., Philosophy library
Hon-su Kim, Hyon-sil Kim (2008) Juvenile delinquency and youth crime New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Laura L. Finley (2007)Encyclopedia of Juvenile violence Green Publishing Group.