Could you please Describe the effect of a broken home has on delinquency, citing research efforts which depict this linkage.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the book, Juvenile Delinquency Readings, under the chapter entitled "Family," L. Edward wells and Joseph H. Rankin have determined that the conditions of a "broken home" do not seem to be any worse than they were in years past. Interestingly, in their studies, there were no consistent effects attached to the child's age at the time of the break-up of the families, or to the child's ethnicity. Likewise, there was no significance to the effect on delinquency when stepparents were included, nor was there any significance to the child's age at the time of the family split. The conclusion of this study was that

...the prevalence of delinquency in broken homes is 10% to 15% higher than in intact homes.

In addition, the prevalence for juvenile delinquency for minor offenses is stronger that it is for serious offenses.

In another study reported by David F. Farrington, there were more direct correlations among the relationships of children to their parents and juvenile delinquencies. In the Newcastle (UK) Thousand Family birth cohort study, Kolvin, et. al. (1988b) found that boys who experience divorce or separation in their first five years had a "double risk of convictions up to 32 years (53 per cent as opposed to 28 percent)." In other research, the Dunedin study in New Zealand, Henry (1998) concluded that "boys from single parent families were particularly likely to be convicted." 

With Farrington's research, also, the correlations of abusive male, unaffectionate mother, and generally neglectful parenting were more direct influences upon juvenile delinquency. The conclusions here are that the "intergenerational transmitting of offending" is more than just a broken home; it is part of a "larger cycle of deprivation and antisocial behavior." Further, in a study by Thornberry, Huezinga, and Loeber, they also found that maltreatment had a larger effect upon delinquency than the single-parent home.

At the same time, Schroeder, Osgood, and Oghia in their book Family Transitions and Juvenile Delinquency, point to the fact that single parents have less time for their children as a cause for delinquency and problems, citing that seven out of ten juvenile delinquency come from broken homes.