Family Delinquency and Crime
The prevalence of crimes at this point in time is undeniable and undisputed as the crime rates keeps on increasing. A portion of the crimes and offenses committed can be traced to the youth; a portion of the offenses committed has for its perpetrators teenagers and adolescents. It thus becomes necessary to determine why these youngsters resort to commission of offenses and how they acquire their delinquent behavior. It is true that how people conduct themselves is an effect of the upbringing they received from their parents and families. How these children were raised and how they were treated at home is a big factor on how people behave themselves in the community. In an article, it has been advanced how important family environment is in affecting the character and behavior of juveniles. The article said that,
…the structure within the family household could determine the extent of delinquency manifested by a juvenile. Family relationships, duties, responsibilities and privileges, and the amount of control exercised over children all play roles in forming character and influencing behavior. The attitudes and actions of parents can create an important influence in the lives of children. Families in crisis will most likely affect the behavior of juveniles (Wickliffe, 2000).
It thus comes into view that the parenting styles that parents apply in raising their children have an enormous effect on how their children would be when they interact with the other members of the society. As discussed, two of these types of parenting styles are the Authoritative Parenting and Permissive Parenting.
An authoritative parenting style has been defined as “one that lends the parent to be flexible, responsive, supportive, communicative, and demonstrate active monitoring of the adolescent’s whereabouts and peer networks as well as maintain consistent disciplinary practices” (Belsky, cited in Johnson, p.15). A parent applying this kind of parenting style is one who is in constant communication with the child concerned. In this kind of parenting style, the parent has to be always informed and aware of where the child will go, what he has to do, and who the child will be with. The parents are somehow in active control of the activities of the child in Authoritative Parenting. This proves to be an easy way for disciplining the child as the parents always know what kinds of activities the child is indulged in, and who the people the child is always with. The problem with Authoritative Parenting lies in the fact that there is an effort or attempt on the part of the parents to “control” their children. Of course, there is nothing improper in trying to control one’s children especially if issues of health, morality, education and safety are concerned. However, beyond those spheres, intrusion of the parents into the life of the children can no longer be considered as healthy and helpful. There is a possibility that due to the “control” that the parents have over the children, the latter will develop a rebellious attitude when he grows up. Thus, there is a great possibility that the child will end up having a deviant behavior since he was not able to enjoy much freedom during his childhood.
In contrast to Authoritative Parenting is Permissive Parenting where the parents do not necessarily intrude with the affairs of their children. In this type of parenting, the parents do not involve themselves much with what the child does; they do not exceedingly acquaint themselves with the peers of their child. In fact, in Permissive Parenting, there is limited communication between the child and the parents as regards the activities of the child. There is no excessive control in this scenario yet it can also be concluded that there is lack of proper guidance in this type of parenting. Children raised by parents who practice Permissive Parenting, as found by Paul (2005), grow up “with entitlement issues, thinking they were more important than others, and often not being caring and respectful toward others”. This happens because not only is there lack of communication between children and parents, but also because the parents do not impose enough restrictions on what the children do. As an end result, children grown up thinking that they can do whatever they want to do, regardless of its propriety, without having to be punished or penalized for it.
In respect to juvenile delinquency, I believe that Permissive Parenting contributes more to the deviant behavior of people. Because children raised in this type of parenting grew up without proper guidance, they do not have the correct idea of what is wrong and what is right when they interact with other members of the society. Most of the children who were brought up with the application of Permissive Parenting are those without an appreciable sense of discipline. This is because as they were growing up, their parents allowed them to do virtually everything that they wanted to due to lack of restrictions and intrusion imposed upon them. In a study by Gorman-Smith, Tolan, Zelli and Huesman in 1996, they were able to impute delinquency in a number of factors,
They noted that poorer discipline practices, less cohesion, and less family involvement were reported in the group self identified as violent offenders. Across ethnic and socioeconomic groups for this study, poor parental monitoring, poor discipline, and lack of family cohesion were general risk variables for serious delinquency (Johnson, 2005, p.15).
It can be seen from this that constant communication between family members is an important factor which cannot be overlooked by parents in raising their children. It is necessary that parents acquaint themselves with the affairs of their children so they are equipped with the knowledge as to how the children will be disciplined.
In caring and rearing for their children, parents must always balance their interests in being aware of the activities of their children and the interests of the children of being let alone. Although constant communication is of value, the parents must avoid being in situations wherein they try to intrude too much into the lives of their children. Also, in trying to instill guidance and discipline among children, parents must not impose too many restrictions on the children in order to avoid the children from acquiring a rebellious character. Yet, the parents, according to Paul (2005) must also be agreeable to setting “solid limits on unacceptable behavior and are not available to being manipulated by their children”
In the end, proper parenting rests on how the parents are able to balance their interests in rearing their children and the interests of children of having their own liberty. The parents must not actively be in total control of the children, yet the former must know when to impose limits on the behavior of a child. This way, not only will the relationship between family members improve, but this will also result in avoiding a deviant character or attitude in the person of the child once he grows up and becomes an active member of the society.
Johnson, J. (2005). Examining Family Structure and Parenting Process. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. <http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-09292005-210410/unrestricted/HJermaineJohnsonThesis3.pdf>
Paul, M. (2005). Authoriarian Parenting, Permissive Parenting or Loving Parenting.. Time with Kids. <http://timewithkids.com/children/Authoritarian-Parenting-Permissive-Parenting-or-Loving-Parenting.php >
Wickliffe, J. (2000) Why Juveniles Commit Crimes. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.