Cjus 230 Final Paper

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The Effects of Family Structure and Values on Juvenile Delinquency

Christina M. Bracey
201240 Fall 2012 CJUS 230-B02 LUO
Professor DeBoer
Liberty University Online
October 12, 2012

Abstract
The changes in family values and structure in the United States has helped contribute to juvenile delinquency today. Society needs to recognize problems within the home before trying to find solutions to problems for todays at risk youth in America. Major structural changes inside of the home could adversely affect the raising of juveniles leading to delinquency. Some of the issues I will discuss in my paper are divorce, child abuse, mothers working outside of the home, and single-parent homes. Ineffectively raising a child can cause low self-control and low self-esteem while increasing the risks of delinquency as well. I will argue that with proper supervision, counseling, and monitoring of the behavior of the juvenile, it is possible that society can help eliminate some of the crimes committed by juvenile delinquents.

Thesis
The changes in family values and structure in the United States has helped contribute to juvenile delinquency today Introduction
Family Structure has changed noticeably in the United States over the past several decades. It refers to various family characteristics that affect relationships and how families function. These characteristics include family size, family disruption, and birth order. High rates of divorce, single-parent housing, the spreading of non-parent families and step-families, and the propagation of cohabitation now delineate in American family life. Changes in family structure can be devastating to a child’s well-being, and have the potential to contribute to juvenile delinquency. The Family and Delinquency

Widespread agreement among social scientists and the general public lead experts to believe that family plays a key role in child development and socialization. There are two sides however to families; the first being a place where members love, care and provide for one another promoting healthy human growth. The second side reveals conflict, a lack of support, and violence. Families are extremely influenced by the political and economic context within which they operate (Elrod & Ryder, 1999, p. 53). A family’s place within the political and economic structure is important because such placement determines the family’s admittance to connections with other institutions. These institutions can consist of school, work, church and voluntary associations. Also, such institutions can be useful resources for the family and can promote access to other resources.

The family not only determines the economic status within which the juveniles live, but is also the primary molder of a child’s personality, values, and behavior (Elrod & Ryder, 1999, p. 54). A variety of criminological theories assume that family plays a significant role in the prevention of delinquent behavior (Elrod & Ryder, 1999, p. 54). Family Size and Delinquency

Larger families tend to produce more juvenile delinquents than smaller families. Being a middle child is also more predictive of delinquency than being either the youngest or eldest (Green & Gabbidon, 2009, p. 283). One common explanation for this issue is a straining of resources in larger families and the inability to provide appropriate parental supervision. Green & Gabbidon (2009) suggest that middle children are more likely to be present during the times of strain; older children leave the home first and younger children remain when there is not as much demand for parental resources (p. 283). Exposure to Violence, Abuse, or Neglect

Most studies find links between exposure to violence or abuse and later possibly offending (Green & Gabbidon, 2009, p. 282). Exposure to marital violence during childhood has been notably associated with committing marital violence as an adult. “An estimated 30% of abused...
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