Juvenile Criminals and Bonds

The use of family as a predictor in the violence and criminal behavior of a child is further emphasized through Ellickson and McGuigan’s research, For predatory violence, there were 6 predictors:  frequency of using alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana during grade 7; higher levels of perceived drug use by one’s middle school peers; being male; being multiracial; coming from a nuclear family; and rebelliousness.

However the last two variables had an impact was contrary to our predictors with adolescents from nuclear families more likely to be frequent perpetrators of predatory violence and rebellious youth less likely to be frequent perpetrators of predatory violence (Ellickson and McGuigan 2000, 570). With this understanding of the juvenile mindset, the parental control over the thoughts and sentiments that the juvenile has towards crime should be discussed.

The amount of exposure a child has with their parents may be considered positive or negative in regards to rehabilitation or the furthering of the child’s life into crime depending on the morality of the parents. The juvenile court system lays great claim to the lack of control parents have with regards to their children and thus the child is sent to a more appropriate atmosphere. The juvenile court system sometimes takes control away from the parents and gives it to an institute. To keep on track, the child’s exposure to their parents may offer a great opportunity to examine the process of the making of a juvenile delinquent.

Hirschi gives us the fact that parental control may be a great deterrent to a life of crime. In control theory it is believed that the greater the bond between a parent and a child, the less likely it is for that child to become delinquent (Hirschi 1969, 83). When a child contemplates a criminal act, according to control theory, and decides to either follow through with the act or to discard the act, depends upon the extent to which that their parents are moral beings have ingrained in that child such morality.

On this subject, Hirschi states, “In the light of the cultural deviance perspective, the child unattached to his parents is simply more likely to be exposed to “criminogenic influences. ” He is, in other words, more likely to be free to take up with a gang. His lack of attachment to his parents is, in itself, of no moral significance” (Hirschi 1969, 85). The attachment a child exhibits to their parents should have great influence on the juvenile court system as to whether or not the child can be rehabilitated.

Since the morality of a parent seems to have great sway as to the sentiments and sometimes actions of a juvenile delinquent, the parent should be given custody and paroling powers over the child instead of a juvenile institution or prison. The socialization from the earliest stage of child development is dependent upon the parent. The conformity a child feels they must succumb to, is the conformity the parent instills in the child. Hirschi states that in control theory advocates of alternative law enforcement find the internalization of norms depends on the early socialization the child has been exposed to under the guidance of the parent.

The emotional bond between parent and child delivers to the child the same mores and values held in esteem of the parent. The parent’s expectations of the child become well known and are fostered through this bond. If, however, the child is alienated or distanced from their parent, such bonds prove to be nihilistic. The feeling the child has of moral rules when the bond is severed or otherwise incapacitated proves to be the leading factor in the delinquent lifestyle.

When the parent shows little concern for the child’s actions or is simply not in the child’s life, then that child is void of moral laws, codes and societal norms (Hirschi 1969, 86). The child’s development of a superego or conscious will not develop if such a bond is nonexistent. Of parental bonds and the forming of child delinquents, Hirschi goes on to state, The child attached to his parents may be less likely to get into situations in which delinquent acts are possible, simply because he spends more of his time in their presence.

However, since most delinquent acts require little time, and since most adolescents are frequently exposed to situations potentially definable as opportunities for delinquency, the amount of time spent with parents would probably be only a minor factor in delinquency prevention. So-called “direct control” is not, except as a limiting case, of much substantive or theoretical importance. The important consideration is whether the parent is psychologically present when temptation to commit a crime appears.

If, in the situation of temptation, no thought is given to parental reaction, the child is to this extent free to commit the act. (Hirschi 1969, 88). Parental concern and involvement, in regards to control theory, is thus proven to be a staple in the forming of healthy relationships between child and society and the deterring factor that limits delinquency. There are other bonds that prove to be under examination when discovering the root of child criminals. The severed ties the child has with society are also formed in school settings and the connection a child forms with gangs or other delinquent friends.

The catch-22 of the acceptance a child seeks out in gang life however is that the gang at once expects conformity but also shuns a participant who is not individualistic. In this forming dichotomy there exists the relevance of expected behavior in either society or gang life, on this Hirschi writes, . . . no good evidence has been produced to show that attachment to peers is actually conducive to delinquency. Unless delinquent behavior is valued among adolescents, there is no reason to believe that attachments to other adolescents should produce results different from those obtaining form attachments to conventional adults.

Predictions about the effects of peer attachments thus hinge on the assumed conventionality or nonconventionality of peers. If the peer “culture” requires delinquent behavior, then presumably attachment would foster conformity-that is, delinquency. However, if the peer culture is identical to the conventional culture, then attachment to persons within this culture should foster conformity to conventional standards. (Hirschi 1969, 84-85). Evidence is common that the forming of relationships (healthy relationships) to surrounding community, and family is the most effective medicine in deterring juvenile acts of crime and violence.

In the school setting juveniles form bonds with each other and these bonds are based on similar activities such as different clubs and organizations, to their excelling in the same academic pursuits, as Hirschi states, On the one hand, the lower-class boy’s day-today- experience in the school is shown to be unpleasant, degrading, and demoralizing. Although she might wish to do otherwise, the middle-class teacher tends to punish the fidgety, unambitious, and dirty lower-class boy.

Furthermore, children from classes above him dominate extracurricular affairs, refuse to date him, and refuse to admit him into their cliques. To the degree that all this matters to him, the lower-class boy is held to face a problem of adjustment:  “To the degree to which he values middle-class status, either because he values the good opinion of middle-class persons or because he has to some degree internalized middle-class standards himself, he faces a problem of adjustment and is in the market for a ‘solution.

’”  (Hirschi 1969, 83) It is a too common feature in schools to have a prejudice against the lower-class students because they are set up for failure. Much of this failure has to do with their social bonds in spilt households, in gang-related activity, and other ‘pre-disposed’ juvenile delinquent behavior. Other factors are also related to a juvenile’s disposition to crime; De Li note that while parental bonds are important in early childhood development and that while “social bonds  . . .

have a significant effect on crime” (De Li 2004, 353), it is a juveniles ability of self-control and illegitimate opportunity which leads to criminal behavior. De Li explains that, While the general theory of crime acknowledges the importance of parental control in the formation of self-control in early childhood, it contends that changes in social bonds in adolescence and adulthood have little impact on criminal behavior. The only factor other than low self-control that significantly affects crime is illegitimate opportunity.

For social bonds developed later in life to have a significant effect on crime, they must be related to either low self-control or illegitimate opportunity. The general theory of crime does not prescribe such a possibility. It maintains that the relationship between bonds developed later in life and crime is spurious and can be fully explained by self-control and illegitimate opportunities. This position stands in stark contrast to the social control theory, which contends that social bonds developed throughout the life course significantly affect delinquency and crime (De Li 2004, 353).