Juvenile delinquents, or youth that have been convicted of a crime, seem to be the norm these days. Citizens, families, and poliy makers want new programs and policies within the juvenile justice system. Researchers have found that the family structure can be a precursor to delinquent behavior, and families do not have the control or blance that they once did. As such, mew measures need to be implemented to help these families in crisis. Rehabilitation of the family unit is the answer, say many, not punishment. In response to this, new ideas have formed to rehabilitate the family unit, but first, the family structures that are precursors to delinquent behavior must be identified. "Family Life, Delinquency, and Crime: A Policymaker's Guide,"compiled by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, introduces us to the theory that the family structure is a precursor to delinquent behavior. The authors and research contributors cite various family "dysfunctions" that contribute to delinquent behavior. Some of the family dysfunctions that the authors focus on are; parental criminality, parental interaction, parental supervision, and single-parent families. Parental criminality plays an important role in relation to delinquency, but based upon the stdies reviewed, poor parenting appears to be among the most powerful predictors of juvnile dleinquency. A good parent/child relationship has a positive impact on desistance from delinquent behavior. Two researchers, West and Farrington, sum it up by concluding in their research that, "the fact that delinquency is transmitted from one generation to the next is indisputable." (West and Farrington, 1973, p.109) They also conclude that poor parenting is linked with delinquent behavior. Parental interaction and supervision, or lack of, also contributes to delinquent behavior. The authors are unequivocal in their beliefs and studies that children that have parents who do not interact with them, or supervise them are much more likely to become juvenile delinquents. Parents need to teach their children morals and values, and when there is a lack of parental interaction and supervision these morals are not being taught. Researchers also suggest that there is a direct relationship between single-parent families and delinquency. Most researchers agree that the trauma of separation from a biological parent, strained parent/child relationships, and less effective parenting are common effects of single-parent homes. The researchers have found that single parent families correlated with juvenile delinquency, and children from single-parent homes were more likely to increase their delinquency as they passed through adolescence, whereas, children raised in two parent homes were more likely to desist from delinquent behavior as they matured. Family structures, such as, single-parent families and stepfamilies, seem to disrupt a child's normal socialization process. In conclusion, the authors and researchers come to the agreement that "a healthy home environment is the single most important factor in preventing delinquent behavior," (32).
In "The Path to School Failure, Delinquency, and Violence: Causal Factors and Some Potential Solutions," the author also supports the theory that poor parenting is a key risk factor or precursor associated with delinquency. The author recognizes key risk factors of delinquency such as, "poverty, dysfuntional and chaotic families, incompetent parenting, and negative parental attitudes toward education" (Walker, 1999, p.2). These risk factors provide a fertile breeding ground for the development of delinquent attitudes and behavioral styles among the children exposed to them. At the core of Mr. Walker's article is the fact that these risk factors need to be reduced and/or eliminated. Parents need to recommit themselves to raising their children safely and effectively.
Robert Trojanowicz also agrees that the family is one of the...
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