It is an undenialble biological fact of life that to exist one must have a biological mother and a biological father, however after the point of conception nothing is certain about how that child will be raised. Some children are raised by foster parents – people who have absolutely no biological relationship to the child – some children have two mothers, some have two fathers… Frequently children are raised in some combination of stepparents, half-sisters, cousins, grandmothers, and whatever other family members are available to rear the child. It is long past the time where a mother and a father would raise a child except for the rare exception. This untraditional makeup of families has a great impact on the child’s successes and failures, as do traditional families which may be traditional in makeup but deal with several confounding factors from differing communication styles to poverty, to more severe abuse and neglect. Oftentimes there is an almost direct connection to an intact family versus a broken family and the type of juvenile delinquency that the children raised in these environments perpetrate. Recognizing the common patterns of family dynamics which lead to juvenile delinquency and factors which insulate children from negative influences is important for creating effective preventative measures.
Defining Juvenile Delinquency and Family Structure
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, juvenile delinquency is “conduct by a juvenile [persons under the age of 18], characterized by antisocial behavior that is beyond parental control and therefore subject to legal action.” While this term is a realtively new concept, Socrates (470-399 BCE) offered an exp...
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... the two parent intact structure is just as detrimental. However, there are factors even within unbroken, intact homes which can further help children turning to delinquency.
Factors Insulating Children From Delinquency
As established earlier, the main causal factor keeping children from juvenile delinquency is an intact, non-broken family structure consisting of one male and one female parent. Smith and Walters (1978) also found that stable intact homes, not living in poverty, with positive child-parent relationships and positive role models also helped lead the children away from delinquency. This is because a child’s home is the center of development and where the child learns his or her place in the world. The most important component of this development is to encourange and aid children in their identity and social development. (Stern et. al. 1984)
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