Environmental Causes

Throughout time, there have been many different views on what the environmental causes of child delinquency are.  Some people believe that child delinquency is due to how the child was raised and what environment the child grew up in.

“Parenting styles could be different for different age groups and could have different effects on child outcomes during different developmental periods… A peak in the so-called age-crime curve has been identified between ages 15 and 19 and for this reason, researchers have concentrated on adolescent delinquency and have paid much less attention to offending in adulthood” (Hoeve, 2011).  Harsher crimes in children later in life are sometimes a result of smaller crimes in childhood.  If researchers can discover some environmental cues that are causing delinquency, then they can do everything in their power to stop it once they have acquired that knowledge.

A lot of children who kill their parents were victims of very serious abuse and sexual assault.  “Typically, the child who kills a parent is from 16 to 18 years old, from a white middle-class family. Most have above-average intelligence, although their schoolwork may be below average. They generally are well-adjusted in school and the community, though they tend to be isolated, without many friends. They commonly have had no prior run-in with the law… these young people generally do not show any obvious sign of the mental disorders and self-destructive tendencies shared by children who strike out at strangers on the street or at nonabusive parents. In fact, dispatching their tormentor can be seen as an act of sanity, a last-resort effort at self-preservation. “They know what they’re doing is wrong,” says Dewey Cornell, a forensic psychologist at the University of Virginia. “But they are desperate and helpless, and they don’t see alternatives”  (Toufexis, 1992).

While many child criminals are victims of assault or abuse and act out in ways to protect themselves, one still has to wonder whether these children will continue a pattern of criminal violence throughout their life when it comes to punishment for their crimes.  Should the child have to spend half of their life in jail because they were defending their lives against a life-threatening parent?  Some may say no, but what if the child served a minimal sentence and once they were released they continued their streak of violence?  Topics such as this have to be discussed.  Many argue that children have to be evaluated on an individual basis which is true.  The child’s environment effects them, but their biology does as well.

The child may only have been defending their life, but at the same time that child could be a cold-blooded murder starting his/her murder career and getting his first taste of vengeance.  Many agree that child abusers were once abused themselves.  This is what has to be prevented in future generations.  If a child kills their parent due to years of child abuse, they are highly likely to abuse their children.  There are programs out now to help children who were sufferers of abuse to help them learn good parenting skills.

When it comes to crime in children, a lot of the time environment has an effect.  Whether it is parental abuse, neglect, sexual assault, or bullying from peers, children are continually faced with stress and pressures while growing up.  Many children can’t handle that stress very well and some say that inability is due to a biological deficiency.

Hoeve, M. (2011). Maternal and paternal parenting styles: unique and combined links to adolescent and early adult delinquency. Journal of Adolescence34(5), 813-827. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/science/article/pii/S0140197111000108

Toufexis, A. (1992). When kids kill abusive parents. 140(21), 60. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=13&sid=9a3e9d16-9710-425c-a540-e0c9fc27a7e2@sessionmgr11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==

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