Amato, P.R. (2008) Recent Changes in Family Structure -- Implications for Children, Adults, and Society. National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, 1 -- 36.
"The research literature is consistent in showing that children who experience divorce, compared with children who grow up with two continuously married parents, have an elevated risk of conduct disorders, psychological problems, low self-esteem, difficulties forming friendships, academic failure, and weak emotional ties to parents, especially fathers (Amato and Keith, 1991; Amato, 2001). As adults, these children (on average) obtain less education, experience more symptoms of psychological distress, have more troubled marriages, are more likely to see their own marriages end in disruption, and have poorer physical health (Amato and Booth, 1997)." (Page 2 -- 3)
This piece describes the functions of family for adults and children. The paper further describes situations in which family structures are altered or shifted. These alterations have numerous affects upon the children, the parents, the family, and finally, society in general. The authors focus upon the family as a way to predict what the ranges of effects are on children whose familial structures are unstable. Among the psychological and emotional effects include vulnerability and a proclivity for deviance and criminal activity. The quotation above summarizes the intent of the authors and their work as well as provides predictions for what kinds of behavior patters are probably in adulthood. My focus is social and cultural predictors of youth crime -- this piece highlights the family as both social and cultural predictors or potential contributing factor of youth crime.
Chen, X., & Adams, M. (2010) Are Teen Delinquency Abstainers Social Introverts?: A Test of Moffit's Theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Sage Publications, 47(4), 439 -- 468.
The authors choose to focus upon introverted youth as candidates for criminal activity and deviance. Their study divides youth offenders into two categories of deviants -- quite simply those with long-term criminal activity, and those with short-term activity, who likely engage in deviant behaviors as a normal expression of rebellion during adolescence. This division of offenders would prove useful in identifying social and cultural factors influencing youth crime. Not only would this piece identify social and cultural factors that determine each kind of offender, the authors would prove useful in further predicting what kinds of crime likely to be committed, the frequency of those crimes, as well as the psychological and emotional orientation of the offenders. The quotation below aptly paraphrases the thesis and conclusions:
"Much of the research interest on delinquency abstention comes from Moffitt's developmental taxonomy, which proposes two groups of offenders with distinct offending trajectories and etiological origins (Moffitt 1993, 2006). The first group, life course-persistent offenders, is small (approximately 5% of the male population). Its members tend to exhibit a personality disorder characterized by physical aggression and delinquency / criminal behavior from childhood to midlife. Such personality disorder is generally a product of interaction between group members' neuropsychological deficits and their adverse early life social environment. In contrast, members of the second group (referred to as "adolescence-limited") develop antisocial behavior as a normative adaptational response only during adolescence. Their delinquency emerges mainly as a result of (1) frustration over the "maturity gap" -- that is, the discrepancy between their physical maturity and the lack of access to adult privileges (e.g., independence, autonomy, and other "freedoms") during adolescence and (2) social mimicry of antisocial models, particularly life course-persistent offender peers. Although life course-persistent offenders are rare and considered pathological, adolescence-limited offending is much more common, viewed as normative and transient." (Page 421)
Gibbons, S., Green, A., Gregg, P., & Machin, S. (2005) Is Britain Pulling Apart? Area Disparities in Employment, Education and Crime. The Centre for Market and Public Organization, CMPO Working Paper Series, 05(120), 1 -- 36.
This article identifies location as a social and cultural predictor of youth crime. The authors describe the various areas of Britain as well as the cultural spectrum present in each. Furthermore, by incorporating other factors such as class, race, education level, and wages, the authors hypothesize that some areas are more prone to crime and specific types of crimes as well. They argue that studies correlating crime to location are lacking and such data has its challenges when it comes to gathering it accurately. The authors explicitly argue that the abundance or lack of economic opportunities in a specific area weigh heavily as to whether that area experiences crime and breeds criminals. This paper assists my research in precisely determining social and cultural predictors of youth crime. Location could fall under a social predictor if examining class, while it could also be a cultural predictor if examining race and subcultures. The quotations below clearly state the authors' perspective:
"At the heart of the issue then is whether the observed differences in outcomes across areas reflect the influence of our neighbours and peers on our outcomes, and whether local public services accentuate or fail to diminish such patterns. So in what follows we assess the evidence that area sorting is strengthening or weakening over time and whether such sorting has any independent influence on employment, education or crime victimisation outcomes. We also discuss the likely routes that such influences are taking as this will influence any policy response." (Page 11)
"Thus there are significant spatial variations in crime rates, and crime is concentrated in certain areas with high levels of persistence through time. This reveals the presence of important place and neighbourhood influences on criminal activity. It is also evident that the spatial incidence of property crime is linked to the economic opportunities available in particular places." (Page 26)
"In addition to the revitalization of strain theory and potential gender differences in how strain may lead to crime, Agnew (1997) argued that strain theory has been unnecessarily absent in the discussion of developmental aspects of crime over the life course. Developmental arguments about crime have usually been focused on control, learning, and psychological explanations, with Moffitt's (1993) developmental two-group taxonomy providing an exemplar. First, a small group of individuals, life-course-persistent offenders, is believed to engage in antisocial and criminal activity consistently throughout the life course, whereas a second, larger group of individuals, adolescence-limited, is hypothesized to constrict their deviance to the adolescent years and then stop soon thereafter. Agnew argued that GST may be used to supplement these views on crime over the life course by explaining how strain and negative emotions remain stable and/or change and how these changes relate to changes in criminal activity." (Page 1277)
The authors of this article utilize General Strain Theory as a way to explain delinquency and criminal behavior. This piece raises gender as an issue that explains specific kinds of crimes and crime frequency. This is another group of authors that choose Moffit's theory to elucidate their own hypotheses and interpretations. Coupled with Moffit's theory, the authors argue that GST allows for deeper understanding and better predictions of criminal behaviors as well as predictions in what kinds of criminals there will be. How gender is demonstrated and what gender means are definite social and cultural factors that can be used to predict youth crime.
Koffman, S., Ray, A., Berg, S., Covington, L., Albarran, N.M. & Vazquez, M. (2009) Impact of a Comprehensive Whole Child Intervention and Prevention among Youths at Risk of Gang Involvement and Other Forms of Delinquency. National Association of Social Workers, Children & Schools, 31(4), 239 -- 245.
"It is our contention that positive interaction with police officers in recreational, educational, and athletic activities in conjunction with the schools and community creates an avenue for adolescents to become involved in their neighborhood in a constructive manner. Given the right opportunities and interactions, adolescents wiU build a healthy, positive attitude toward the police, school, themselves, and society." (Page 245)
The discipline of criminology requires an approach to understanding that involves research into many factors. This article proposes interventions as a preemptive maneuver to keep youth more likely to engage in criminal behaviors and deviance away from opportunities to get involved with crime. This article demonstrates theory in practice. Much of the literature gathered for the dissertation identifies predictors of crime and describes how those factors lead to crime or at least significantly increased likelihood of crime. This article acknowledges certain determined factors in youth that lead to crime, proposes, and then implements an intervention. The quotation above paraphrases the thesis, the methods, the results, and the conclusions of the authors' experimentation.
Thornberry, T.P., Smith, C.A., Rivera, C., Huizinga, D., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1999) Family Disruption and Delinquency. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Youth Development Series, 1 -- 6.
This is yet another piece of literature arguing the influence of the stability of the family structure as a direct link to the predisposition and likelihood for youth crime. The tone of the piece…