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The Relationship between Parental Influence and Juvenile Delinquency Term Paper



In spite of the number of juvenile crimes going down, many adolescents still participate in unlawful activities (Wiesner & Silbereisen, 2003). Juveniles engage in a number of criminal activities. The activities range from petty theft, slay, riotous conduct, to destruction. In 2001, four percent of the juvenile delinquencies comprised of brutal crimes while 23.8 percent comprised of physical attack (Wiesner & Silbereisen, 2003).

The American government has improved the majority of the incarceration facilities to make sure that juvenile reprobates do not escape. Parents contribute to the increase in number of juvenile delinquencies across the globe. They do this either directly or indirectly. This paper will discuss how parents contribute to juvenile delinquency and measures that can help to avert the rise in number of juvenile crimes.

How parents contribute to juvenile delinquency

Parents act as exemplars to their children. Simons et al. argue, “When parents are held in high esteem and are the main sources for reinforcement, their children are likely to model them” (1991, p. 646). This implies that, if parents embrace decorum in all they do, their children would also carry themselves with decorum.

However, if parents engage in negative behaviors, it would be hard to prevent children from partaking in the same. Moreover, children would possibly associate the entire community with such behaviors, hence, becoming hard to correct them. Barnes, Hoffman, and Welte (2006) identify parental support as one of the factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency.

Parental support refers to manner in which a parent brings up a child. Parents that do not allow their children to play with their neighbors, or discourage their children from associating with particular families lead to the children developing a negative attitude towards the families. Eventually, the attitude degenerates to prejudices leading to children loathing the families.

Children start identifying certain features of their individuality long before going to school. They develop nosiness about hair color, complexion, and other aspects that distinguish them from other children. If not assisted to cope with these differences, the children start acting with prejudice towards their colleagues at an early age. At five years old, children are able to distinguish between different racial or ethnic groups.

They begin associating themselves with particular races, which they perceive to hail from. At such a time, parents ought to show their children that all races are equal and try to bridge the gap between the races. Nonetheless, this does not happen. Majorities of parents are biased towards certain races and, hence, they cannot allow their children to associate with the races (Barnes, Hoffman & Welte, 2006).

In the process, they help the children to confirm their prejudice towards the races. The biases that the parents show towards other races or religions are what lead to their children developing hatred towards the races or religions. Eventually, the children end up attacking people belonging to those races or practicing the religions.

At times, parents inculcate prejudice in their children unconsciously. For instance, a parent might be shopping with his or her child in a supermarket and, when they go to pay, the parent skips a Black cashier and moves to queue in a line that a White cashier is serving. In such a scenario, a number of questions might linger in the child’s mind. The child might develop a negative attitude towards Black cashiers without the parent knowing.

Moreover, some comments that parents make when commenting about religions might lead to children developing prejudices towards a particular religion. For example, parents that always use sentiments that relate Christianity with all sorts of good things might lead to their children perceiving that only Christianity is good, and other religions are evil or immoral.

Police and court consideration

Strain theory states, “The inability to achieve positively valued goals leads to individuals becoming deviant” (Hollist, Hughes & Schaible, 2009, p. 380). Failure by the parents to reprimand their children or show them that certain actions might be detrimental contribute to the majority children engaging in criminal activities.

A study of juvenile criminals indicates that a majority of the culprits come from families where children are pampered. Such families do not punish their children whenever they commit mistakes. Therefore, they develop a deviant behavior as they grow up. Since parents play an influential role in brining up their children, it would be appropriate for the police to factor in the parents’ contribution when addressing juvenile delinquencies.

A child ought not to suffer because of poor parenting. Since the parents contribute to juvenile crimes by not teaching their children what is right or wrong, police and/or courts need to put this into consideration when passing judgment against the juveniles. The court ought to revisit the juvenile’s upbringing to determine if parents have a hand in his or her behavior.

The police and/or the courts can then decide to split the punishment between the juvenile and the parents upon learning that parents have a hand in the crime. For instance, while the court sentences the juvenile to imprisonment, or orders him or her to carryout community service, it may penalize the parents as a way of discouraging others from neglecting their parental duties.

Averting racial discrimination

Schools, police, and government and social institutions can assist in overcoming racial discrimination. Schools offer a good platform for racial integration. To shun prejudices towards certain races, the schools ought to enroll children from different racial backgrounds indiscriminately. Besides, teachers ought to come up with programs that require children to work in groups.

In such a case, teachers would put children from different backgrounds in the same group and encourage them to work together. This would discourage the children from developing perceptions that their race is superior or inferior (Bazemore & Schiff, 2005). Some parents teach their children that certain races are inferior to theirs.

Hence, the children grow knowing that children from those races cannot do certain things. Nevertheless, integrating such children in the same group would facilitate to demystify this myth. Children who perceive others as inferior would change their perception after realizing that they have equal aptitudes.

Police and government institutions may help to avert racial discrimination by enlightening the public about the dangers of racial discrimination. Moreover, government institutions may discourage racial discrimination by ensuring that they hire people from all races. Overrepresentation of one race in government institutions leads to other races developing hatred towards that race (Bazemore & Schiff, 2005).

Ensuring that every race is represented in the social and government institutions would discourage racial discrimination between juveniles, as it would be hard for the juveniles to identify racial disparities within the society. Moreover, parents would not have a reference point to refer to when discouraging their children from associating with others from a different race.

A fair outcome

The fair outcome in an incidence where juveniles engage in a racially discriminative delinquency would entail applying the principle of restorative justice when dealing with culprits.

Rather than condemning the juveniles to incarceration, court can give them a second chance by commanding them to undertake community service as a way of promoting an affable relationship between them and the society. Besides, restorative justice would help to avoid chances of the juveniles degenerating to adult criminals, therefore, plummeting recidivism (Daly, 2002).


Parents contribute to increase in the number of juvenile delinquencies either calculatedly or involuntarily. The way parents bring up their children contributes to development of ethnic, racial, and religious prejudices, which later degenerate to crimes. Whenever parents use sentiments that demean a particular race, children grow perceiving that race as inferior or worthless.

Therefore, they look down upon children from that race, therefore, fueling hatred between them. If such a problem goes unaddressed, it might lead to conflicts between the races, eventually resulting in crimes. When addressing crimes involving juveniles, police ought to consider how offenders were brought up, as this might contribute to their behavior.

To avert crimes related to racial discrimination, the government, schools, and other social institutions ought to establish programs that promote cooperation between different races. In addition, the government needs to make sure that its institutions demonstrate equal representation of all races. Rather than condemning juvenile offenders to imprisonment, it would be fair to use restorative justice to punish the juveniles.


Barnes, G., Hoffman, J. & Welte, J. (2006). Effects of Parental Monitoring and Peer Deviance on Substance Use and Delinquency. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(4), 1084-1104.

Bazemore, G. & Schiff, M. (2005). Juvenile Justice Reform and Restorative Justice: Building Theory and Policy From Practice. Portland: Willan Publishing.

Daly, K. (2002). Restorative justice: the real story. Punishment and Society, 4(1), 55-79.

Hollist, D., Hughes, L. & Schaible, L. (2009). Adolescent Maltreatment, Negative Emotion, and Delinquency: An Assessment of General Strain Theory and Family-based Strain. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(5), 379-387.

Simons, R., Whitbeck, L., Conger, R. & Conger, K. (1991). Parenting Factors, Social Skills, and Value Commitments as Precursors to School Failure, Involvements with Deviant Peers, and Delinquent Behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 20(6), 645-664.

Wiesner, M. & Silbereisen, R. (2003). Trajectories of Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence and their Covariates: Relations with Initial and Time Averaged Factors. Journal of Adolescence, 26(1), 753-771.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Relationship between Parental Influence and Juvenile Delinquency." September 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-relationship-between-parental-influence-and-juvenile-delinquency/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Relationship between Parental Influence and Juvenile Delinquency'. 14 September.

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