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NCJ Number: 65349 Find in a Library
Title: DELINQUENCY AND THE CHANGING AMERICAN FAMILY (FROM CRITICAL ISSUES IN JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, 1980, BY DAVID SHICHOR AND DELOS H KELLY - SEE NCJ-65344)
Author(s): J W C JOHNSTONE
Corporate Author: Lexington Books
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Lexington Books
New York, NY 10022
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: RECENT STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN AMERICAN FAMILIES, AS WELL AS WEAKNESSES IN RESEARCH METHODS AND THEORIES WHICH LINK DELINQUENCY WITH FAMILY PROBLEMS, ARE DESCRIBED
Abstract: THE VOLUMINOUS LITERATURE ON THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY HAS BEEN UNABLE TO PROVE ANY CONCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IT AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY. TRADITIONAL STUDIES WHICH DOCUMENTED THE INFLUENCE OF BROKEN HOMES ON DELINQUENCY HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY CHALLENGED. POPULAR OPINION, HOWEVER, STILL ENDORSES THE IDEA THAT WEAK FAMILIES PRODUCE TROUBLESOME CHILDREN. DURING THE 1970'S, THE NUMBER OF SINGLE-PARENT, FEMALE-HEADED FAMILIES ROSE SHARPLY AND HAS BEEN BLAMED FOR THE CONCURRENT RISE IN JUVENILE CRIME. HOWEVER, SUCH ASSUMPTIONS CAN BE MISLEADING BECAUSE THEY IGNORE DIFFERENCES AMONG INTACT AND BROKEN FAMILIES. THE EXTENDED-KIN NETWORK PREVALENT IN BLACK COMMUNITIES CAN STRENGTHEN A BROKEN FAMILY, WHILE A RESTRUCTURED FAMILY OFTEN HAS PROBLEMS WITH ADOLESCENTS CHALLENGING A STEPPARENT'S AUTHORITY. RESEARCH DESIGNS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE CONFUSION BY NEGLECTING THE INFLUENCE OF THE FAMILY ON THE JUVENILE PROCESSING SYSTEM AND RETAINING THE BELIEF THAT ONLY THE NUCLEAR, INTACT FAMILY FUNCTIONS EFFECTIVELY. FURTHERMORE, MOST INVESTIGATORS HAVE FOCUSED ON ONE ELEMENT OF FAMILY DYNAMICS INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOR CORRELATIONS AMONG MARITAL HARMONY, TIES BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN, AND CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE. METHODS OF MEASURING DELINQUENT BEHAVIOR HAVE VARIED CONSIDERABLY AND USUALLY FAIL TO NOTE THAT THE FAMILY SITUATION MAY BE IRRELEVANT TO SOME TYPES OF DELINQUENT EXPRESSION. THEORIES ON FAMILY SYSTEMS OFTEN IGNORE COMMUNITY INFLUENCES. RECENT STUDIES HAVE DEMONSTRATED THAT SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT HAS A STRONG EFFECT ON SERIOUS CRIME WHEREAS STATUS VIOLATIONS ARE A REACTION TO FAMILY PROBLEMS. THUS, IN AFFLUENT COMMUNITIES, POOR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS MAY BE A MAJOR CAUSE OF DELINQUENT BEHAVIOR, BUT IN POVERTY AREAS FAMILY PROBLEMS BECOME SECONDARY. TREATMENT PROGRAMS SHOULD BE TAILORED TO THE SITUATIONAL NEEDS OF THE FAMILY ONCE BASIC SURVIVAL NEEDS HAVE BEEN MET. JUVENILE JUSTICE PERSONNEL SHOULD AVOID SUPERFICIAL EVALUATIONS BASED ON STEREOTYPES AND ASSESS THE TOTAL FAMILY SYSTEM BEFORE MAKING A DECISION. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (MJM)
Index Term(s): Domestic relations; Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile status offenders
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65349

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