For the past few years, broken homes, a child’s family position, and family size have been the subjects of considerable study in the crime and delinquency field. In 1950, there were 40. 5 million children living in homes containing both a father and a mother, and 4. 1 million children living in broken homes. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, in 1970 there were 7. 6 million minors (under eighteen years of age) growing up without one or both parents. In 1960, one of every four black families was headed by a woman who was divorced, separated from her husband, or abandoned.
In 1972, almost one out of every three black families was without a father, compared to one in ten for whites. In this new millennium, the syndrome is no longer confined to low-income families or black families. Today’s middle class increasingly resembles the low-income family of the early 1960’s. With the increase in such patterns as divorces (in 1996, one in every three marriages ended in divorce), separations and working mothers, children are increasingly being entrusted to daycare centers, neighbors, home alone and the television.
Child-rearing patterns have, thus, undergone drastic changes. In an article on this issue, Sandra Pesmen notes that there are “more and more young children with working mothers than ever before. ”3 Many welfare-supported women with too many children in too many rooms have taken in neighbors’ children to supplement their income. At times these nannies have abused the children under their care. In 1999, a Chicago woman was recorded on a video camera beating a child under her care. Sometimes the result is more overcrowding, less supervision, and less effective socialization with children.
There are instances when children who return home to empty houses have to await the return of their parents. Tendency is that the children are probably home alone, and as a result, creates an “emotional vacuum,” where children grow up without any values or goals. The result of being delinquent as a juvenile. The result of being a juvenile delinquent is the increasing incidence of runaways, teenage suicides, teenage parenthood, and a series of unhappy marriages and divorces. In this new millennium, children seem to be getting less nurturing and support from within their family.
Instead, children are spending more and more time in front of televisions, computers, and surfing the Internet in order to ascertain where to buy guns and homemade bombsall of which contribute to the delinquency problem. 4 However, we cannot always place the blame on parents; at times children just want to listen to their peers and follow their advice. If we look into other variables, such as age, sex, type of offense, and quality of single parent-child relationship, we could reach a conclusion that it is not necessarily the parent who is at fault.
We cannot correlate one factor to determine why juveniles commit crimes. I researched juvenile behavior dealing exclusively with girls, and I found that girls tend to be juvenile delinquents when they lose emotional touch with their family or someone close to them. Most girls are arrested for incorrigibility, running away, gang involvement, and sex offenses; while most boys are arrested for vandalism, theft, assault, rape, drugs and some major offenses.