Psychologists have determined that there are four types of parent/child relationships:
- Strict, but loving
- Strict and cold
- Lenient and loving
- Lenient and cold
The lenient and cold relationship (4) is the worst, and it is often one from which juvenile delinquency develops since the child feels that parents really do not care about him to discipline him or to show any feelings toward him. After this one, the strict and cold (2) is also conducive to juvenile delinquency since there is no feeling, other than cruelty, that is perceived by the child. (3) Lenient and loving can sometimes produce delinquency since there is no fear of punishment from the parent.
(1) is considered the best of parent/child relationships as the parents' strictness, if not cruel, is a sign of caring to the loved child. Children want rules because rules are proof that the parent wishes to protect the child and to help the child to become a responsible person. Rules are proof of love, just as demonstrations such as hugging and kissing are.
In both lenient relationships and in the cold relationship, there is the potential of the child being exposed to violence, and this exposure has been linked to juvenile delinquency. The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence revealed several things; among them,
The survey found that 1 in 10 youth suffered from maltreatment, including physical and emotional abuse and neglect, and 1 in 16 were victimized sexually in the past year.
Such maltreatment often leads to juvenile delinquency. Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Robert L. Listenbee states that
children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail in school and in the workplace; suffer from serious medical problems; and engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
On the other hand, exposure to caring adults, adults who become involved as mentors, or as parents, do much to keep children from becoming delinquents. Fostering ethical values and setting examples of these concepts also serves to strengthen parent/child relationships and reduce delinquency.