Relationship between Family Structure and Delinquent Behavior

The hypothesis that the authors were attempting to answer is that there exists a significant relationship between family structure and delinquent behavior. The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that the parental attachment factor of social control theory can clarify why children from non-traditional families are more likely to indulge delinquent acts than those from traditional, two parent homes.

The following are divisions of non-traditional family structure as independent variables intact (if both biological parents are present in the home), neither natural parent (if both biological parents are lacking), reconstituted (if one biological parent has been substituted by a step-parent) and single parent (if one biological parent is missing and has not been substituted), subdivided in to categories like age, sex and socioeconomic status while the dependent variables are delinquent behavior within the home, minor transgressions of the law and status offenses.

The study results show children from at least one of the three non-traditional family structures have a higher probability of being delinquent than those who come from intact homes. The most vulnerable type of family appears to be the one in which neither natural parent is present. Children from this group have the highest probability of committing any delinquent acts.

The conclusion in this study suggests that children from non-traditional family structures experience lower levels of parental attachment and this deficit in attachment leads to delinquent behavior. The results of this are suggestive rather than definitive. It is definitely necessary to replicate this study by means of a research design that can give a report on the possible existence of reciprocal relationships amongst variables and the possibility that spurious correlations were created by the omission of major variables from the causal model.


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