Free Research Paper About Child Delinquency And Criminal Behavior

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Family, Crime, Children, Theory, Behavior, Criminal Justice, Control, Punishment

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/11/25

Question 1

There is no doubt that corporal punishment remains a highly controversial issue in the United States. The debate on corporal punishment is not only on it appropriateness as a disciplinary measure but also on the long term effects that it may have on those that it is administered on. Before dwelling on this, it would be perhaps wise to understand what the phrase corporal punishment means. Corporal punishment simply refers to the action of using physical force to impose pain on a child as a way of correcting or controlling the behavior of the child. There are two distinctive sides to the debate revolving around corporal punishment. Some argue that corporal punishment is an acceptable form of discipline that helps to improve a child’s behavior while others believe that it is a harmful technique regardless of how and why it is used.
The support for corporal punishment is derived from any contemporary theories that suggest that effective parenting helps to decrease the probability of delinquent behavior (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 59). One of the components of effective parenting is consistent discipline where a child engages in behavioral infractions (The Corporal Punishment Controversy, 2015). According to the PowerPoint, corporal punishment is seen by many parents as an appropriate and effective way of disciplining children. In fact, as high as 94% of parents report using some type of corporal punishment in their children (The Corporal Punishment Controversy, 2015). These parents have obviously used corporal punishment because they believe that it an effective tool or technique for instilling discipline in their children.
Alternatively to these contemporary theories that depict corporal punishment as one of the elements of effective parenting, there recent studies that however claim that corporal punishment is harmful and only helps to accentuate the risk of delinquency or problematic behavior in children. According to Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 69, recent “research has confirmed that children subjected to corporal punishment are at risk for delinquent and criminal behavior”. Simons, Simons and Wallace (2004, p. 60) go on to argue that the reason for this effect of corporal punishment is because the parents who use it as a disciplinary measure essentially teach their children that coercion and aggression are legitimate approaches or models for solving problems. However, this theory is contradicted by a longitudinal study conducted by Morris and Gibson (2011, p.836) who found a small and almost non-significant relationship between exposure vs. non-exposure to corporal punishment and subsequent delinquency and aggression.
In spite of this, from the two arguments, the one that seems stronger is the latter that shows that corporal punishment may actually increase the risk of delinquency. The danger of increasing the risk of delinquency in a child outweighs any potential benefit that will accrued from instituting corporal punishment. First of all, the effect of corporal punishment is fairly short term. Corporal punishment will only deter behavioral infraction for a short time before it is required again since a child is bound to repeat the behavior when the pain inflicted wears off, or the child forgets about the punishment. However, the long effect of corporal punishment threatens to derail the entire future of a child. When a young child learns that problems can be solved through physical infliction of pain or violence, the child will adopt a similar approach in all their endeavors and may be the basis for the development of aggression and crime in the child. In addition, inflicting pain on an individual intentionally regardless of what they have done is simply unethical, and there are surely other ethical and humane ways through which punishment can be rendered.

Question 2

Delinquency is affected by several factors with some of them being from within the family. However, it is not only the family structure that determines delinquency. There is increasing evidence that neighborhoods and community conditions play a significant role in determining delinquency sometimes even above parenting. The first factor in regard to neighborhood conditions is the prevalence of delinquent behavior in the particular neighborhoods. For example, when families in neighborhoods characterized by high rates of crime, the typical approaches by parents to monitoring and consistent discipline become insufficient to prevent involvement of children in delinquent behavior (The Effects of Parental Work and Neighborhood Conditions on Family Processes, 2015). The other factor related to neighborhood conditions that influences delinquency is collective socialization (The Effects of Parental Work and Neighborhood Conditions on Family Processes, 2015). This generally refers to the influence that adults in a neighborhood have in children and young people who are not their children. This may either foster or prevent delinquency. For example, an adult can monitor the child of a neighbor and prevent him with hanging out with delinquent peers and, therefore, reduce the risk of delinquent behavior in that child. This aspect occurs in the communities where residents are familiar with each other and all committed to maintaining and enhancing the entire community’s welfare (The Effects of Parental Work and Neighborhood Conditions on Family Processes, 2015). Collective socialization tends to be rare in communities that are poor or in areas where there are high rates of crime and residential turnover is high. Such neighborhoods condition are likely to foster enormous levels of delinquency.
However, the influence of neighborhood conditions can be combated or constrained by parental practices. If the neighborhood conditions provides a lush ground for delinquency, then increased parental control can help to counter this. According to Simons, Simons and Wallace (2004, p.104) quote the parental buffering hypothesis that proposes that parental control in a high-risk neighborhood for delinquency actually reduces the chances of a child being influenced by environmental pressures to engage in delinquent or antisocial behavior. Therefore, parental practices that is characterized by parental control can help to counter the effect of neighborhoods condition on delinquency. Here, parental practices involve stringent measures that are different from those that would be exercised by a parent living in conventional neighborhoods. As Byrnes et al. (2011) shows, the context of the neighborhood can actual interferes with parental abilities to monitor parents effectively and in such times, parents are required to adopt more effective control strategies.
Apart from neighborhoods, the family structure has significant effects on delinquency. The overwhelming finding however in many research studies that the risk of delinquency is higher in non-traditional two parent families. Children brought up in family models such as a single parent, blended and step families. Single parenthood is particularly characterized by aspects such as less monitoring, lack of a fellow parent to share prenatal responsibilities that can all cultivate delinquency in children (Family Structure and Delinquency, 2015). Additionally, blended and step families also have features that may propel the risk for delinquency and these include; new environment adjustment difficulties and lack of authority by one parent to instill and enforce discipline (Family Structure and Delinquency, 2015).
Therefore, it appears that the structure of both the family and the neighborhood has a significant effect on delinquency. For example, there is a higher risk for engagement in delinquency for a child raised by a single parent in a neighborhood laden with crime and where there is minimal collective socialization.

Question 3

A lot of research has been conducted on factor that contribute to adolescent delinquency and adult crime, In fact, a lot of longitudinal studies seem to indicate that children who exhibit non-compliant and aggressive behaviors in their elementary school years are at a huge risk for adolescent delinquency and adult crime. This signals that the roots or foundations of adult antisocial behavior and lifestyles are essentially planted in and individual during his or her formative years. Parents are the primary socialization agents in the formative years of an individual and, therefore, there is a viable suggestion that parental behavior somehow contributes to the development of criminal and other delinquent behaviors in a child.
This seeming relationship has prompted a lot of research with social theorists eager to explain just how the parental behavior influences the future behavior of a child even when they in their adulthood. Consequently, several theories have been brought forward to explain this relationship.
One of the theories advanced to show this relationship is the social control theory. This theory deviates from other theories in that it does not attempt to identify or explain the favors that cause an individual to engage in unacceptable behavior (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p.19). This theory attempts to look at why people conform. The proponents of this theory present the argument that everyone is born with antisocial orientation, and it is only as one grows that one learns to follow social norms and, in fact, conform to socially approved lines of conduct. Therefore, while everybody is born as an anti-social being, slowly by slowly, humans learn to be conforming society members (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 19).
Throughout the 50’s and the 60’s, countless control theories were formulated by various authors that emphasized on how both parental and personal control stopped the youth from engaging in delinquent behavior. (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p. 20). These theories were however not widely accepted and I was only until the publication of the book “Causes of Delinquency” by Travis Hirschi in 1969 that the social control theory explanation for delinquency and come was accepted (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p .20). The reason for this wide acceptance of the social control theory was because of the convincing explanation that it gave in regards to why people conform to the society’s norms. The primary reason for conformance given by the social control theory is the establishment if bonds with society. This bond has four primary elements that include attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. In simple terms, the social control theory postulates that one usually conform to society norms because they form attachments with others, they involve themselves ins some of the society’s conventional activities, they develop goals and aspirations and that they finally acquire respect for the law and order. In the same breath, the social control theory postulates hat delinquents and criminals are people who do not have these bonds to the society One of the predictions of this theory therefore was that deviants do not have close or strong relationships with their peers. This is especially so with the parent’s attachment which some believe to be the most fundamental element of this theory (ppt). It is the parent who guides a child in developing these attachments, and whether these bonds fail to materialize because of ineffective parenting, delinquency is inevitable. This theory postulated that parents actually exert humongous influence over whether the child will develop long term goals, commits to the traditional form of morality. Whether the child gets involved in conventional activities and whether the child gains respect for the law.
However, later research would come to indicate that it was not merely parent behavior or attachment that explained later delinquency, but there were also other factors involved.
The other theory that explains this phenomenon is the self-control theory. Hirschi was once gain one of the primary founders of this theory and in this theory, it appeared like he had changed his mind about the previous explanation he had given on the social control theory. However, this theory almost had a similar basis to the social control theory. The theory argued that human enter the world in low self-control right from birth (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p .27). Toddler and, in fact, are, for example, self-centered, impulsive and most of them want immediate gratification. However, with time and as people grow, they learn to delay this gratification. People learn to delay their demand, desire or need for immediate reward and alternatively, they progressively learn how to exercise self-control. (Simons, Simons and Wallace, 2004, p .27). As a result of this, people are essentially able to be accountable for their actions to not only themselves but also to others. This theory as mentioned put more emphasis on parents.
This theory postulates that individuals who are low in self-control are more prone to crime (Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control, 2015). The theory goes on to argue that low self-control is usually characterized by traits of impulsiveness, self-centered, risk-taking, insensitive and uncompromising nature. In addition, this virtue is characterized by a lack of concern for long-term consequences. This is then related to crime where it is argued that crime essentially provides immediate gratification with relatively little energy and time investment and consequently, criminal offenders will tend to capitalize on crime opportunities whenever they present themselves (Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control, 2015). In addition, the theory argues that a majority of the crimes are unorganized and poorly planned for.
In relation to the parent, the main argument by Hirschi is that the caregiver who is in most cases the parents has to set behavior standards that it helps the child to eventually develop self-control. Some of the primary actions by the caregiver that will help the child to develop self-control include supervision and monitoring of behavior, the acknowledgment and recognition deviance whenever to takes place and finally the appropriate punishing of a child when he or she engages in delinquent behavior (Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control, 2015). This theory goes on to argue that when these things happened, a child will essentially develop a relatively high level of self-control.
Alternatively, the proponents of this theory argue that when parents or caregivers fail of do the things mentioned above the children will not develop self-control and as a result, they will progressively develop impulsiveness and short-sightedness and consequently, they will have tendency to make choices that are only satisfactorily to their immediate needs and the give immediate reward (Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control, 2015). These children will show minimal concern for the long term.
Although this theory may explain why delinquent behavior develops in children, it, however, does not consider peer influence among other factors. Therefore, there are research studies that suggested that the theory, therefore, accounts for only a little bit of the relationship between parenting and antisocial behavior and that there are very many other factors that affect and influence this relationship.


Morris, S. Z., & Gibson, C. L. (2011). Corporal punishment’s influence on children’s aggressive and delinquent behavior. Criminal justice and behavior, 38(8), 818-839.
Simons, R.L., Simons, L.G., and Wallace, L.E. (2004). Families, Delinquency, and Crime: Linking Society’s Most Basic Institution to Antisocial Behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury. (ISBN 1- 931719-30-6).
“The Corporal Punishment Controversy”. Families and Crime. (CCJ 4931). 2014.
“Family Structure and Delinquency”. Families and Crime. (CCJ 4931). 2014.
Simons, R.L., Simons, L.G., and Wallace, L.E. (2004). Families, Delinquency, and Crime: Linking Society’s Most Basic Institution to Antisocial Behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury. (ISBN 1- 931719-30-6).
“The Effects of Parental Work and Neighborhood Conditions on Family Processes”. Families and Crime. (CCJ 4931). 2014.
Byrnes, H. F., Miller, B. A., Chen, M. J., & Grube, J. W. (2011). The roles of mothers’ neighborhood perceptions and specific monitoring strategies in youths’ problem behavior. Journal of youth and adolescence, 40(3), 347-360.
“Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control” Families and Crime. (CCJ 4931). 2015.

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