Single Parent Homes And Child Delinquency
Child delinquency, also known as juvenile delinquency refers to criminal acts performed by children or juveniles.
Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers. Crime committed by young people has risen since the mid-twentieth century. There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of youth crime.
The statistics of youth crime serve as an indicator for assessing the general state of morality and law and order in a country.
According to the Current Population Survey, the proportion of children living in single-parent homes has more than doubled between 1970 and 2006 from 12 to 28 percent. Over the 36 year period, the share of children living with only their mother has risen from 10 to 24 percent, while the share living with only their father has grown from less than 2 to 5 percent. A never-married parent is becoming more common in single-parent homes. The proportion of children living with a never-married parent has also shown an increase from 7 to 42 percent. Almost 4 percent of children live with other relatives and less than 1 percent live with non relatives. Although there may be no direct, causal link between single parent families and youth violence, poor parenting is often identified as one of the most serious risk factors for unhealthy youth development.
Parenting is critical to the prevention of delinquency and youth violence. Studies are showing that single parent families are potentially more harmful than traditional two parent homes. It is believed that children of single parent families are twice as likely to develop serious psychiatric illnesses such as depression and suicidal tendencies and several addictions like alcohol and drug abuse later in life in comparison to two parent households. Children from single parent homes are exposed to certain conditions that can put them at a greater risk to delinquency. These include economic conditions, bad neighborhood, parental rejection and the social response towards them. Exposure to sexual abuse and physically abusive punishment also increases the risk of delinquency. Specifically, adolescents exposed to physically abusive punishment are observed to be about four times more likely to commit delinquent acts, and adolescents exposed to sexual abuse commit about three times more delinquent acts than those not exposed to these forms of abuse.
There is a general misconception that broken families with one non-biological parent in the household provide a better prospect of parenting than single parent families. Studies highlight that delinquency rates are lowest in homes with two biological parents and highest in broken homes with at least one non-biological parent in the household, while single-parent households fall in the middle. This same ratio also stands true for physical and sexual abuse. This exemplifies that it can actually be worse to have two parents in the household, if one of those parents is not a biological parent. Even children growing up in families with marital discord and continuous conflicts are more prone to delinquency.
A healthy home environment characterized by affection, cohesion and involvement, reduces the risk of delinquency. Positive parenting during the early years and later in adolescence is important in steering the personality of a child towards a brighter future. It is vital to monitor the whereabouts, friends and activities of children and equip them with the capability to differentiate between right and wrong. Disciplining is necessary but when executed with a tinge of harsh has a further damaging effect. A good bonding between parents and children is the single most important factor necessary to keep children from becoming delinquent.
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