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Olivet Nazarene University

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Ed.D. Dissertations School of Graduate and Continuing Studies

5-1-2011

Divorced Families and Their Children: Discovering What Leads to Delinquency
Brandon H. Myers
Olivet Nazarene University, bmyers@live.olivet.edu

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.olivet.edu/edd_diss Part of the Family, Life Course, and Society Commons, Juveniles Commons, and the Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance Commons Recommended Citation
Myers, Brandon H., "Divorced Families and Their Children: Discovering What Leads to Delinquency" (2011). Ed.D. Dissertations. Paper 28.

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DIVORCED FAMILIES AND THEIR CHILDREN: DISCOVERING WHAT LEADS TO DELINQUENCY

by Brandon H. Myers

Dissertation

Submitted to the Faculty of Olivet Nazarene University School of Graduate and Continuing Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership

May 2011

Myers All Rights Reserved i .© 2011 Brandon H.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to first and foremost express my appreciation to my dissertation adviser. Houston Thompson. I would like to share my gratitude with all of the faculty and staff members at the Olivet Nazarene University School of Graduate and Continuing Studies who made it their goal to ensure the success of all students enrolled in this doctoral program. Brian Woodworth who selflessly gave of himself so that I may pursue and accomplish the goal of obtaining this doctoral degree. as well as the entire dissertation committee who generously committed their expertise and time. ii . Secondly. Dr. Finally. I would like to recognize the efforts of my dissertation coordinator.

Kathleen.DEDICATION I dedicate this dissertation to my wonderful wife. and my two children. iv . Damon and Samuel. It was through the many sacrifices of company and time that this accomplishment was made possible. Because of this I am and always will be truly grateful to my family.

Although this research showed that parenting styles may be slightly more significant the author provided a model from which future research should be based. Myers. NLSY97.000 youths and household members. v .D. Olivet Nazarene University May 2011 Major Area: Ethical Leadership Number of Words: 117 This study sought to determine what aspect of divorce was most likely associated with an increase in criminally delinquent behavior among adolescent children under the age of eighteen years. The researcher utilized the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. The researcher relied upon a correlative research method through the use of comparative frequencies in order to determine which of the six leading perspectives concerning the effects of divorce on adolescent development was more prominent.ABSTRACT by Brandon H. as the primary research tool which was a ten year survey of nearly 9. Ed.

.............................................10 II.6 Significance of the Study ............................................................37 III...............................................................................................................14 Introduction ...............................................26 Conclusion ................................................................14 Historical View of Juvenile Delinquency in America .......................43 Data Collection ...............................................2 Research Question ..................................................................................................................................................................................................10 Procedure to Accomplish ................................40 Introduction ................. METHODOLOGY ................................................................................23 Juvenile Delinquency within America .............. Page INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ...................................2 Background ...........................................................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem ...45 Analytical Methods .......41 Population .................................................................................................TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter I......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................49 vi .......................................................................................................................................6 Description of Terms .................................................40 Research Design.................................................................................................................48 Limitations ............................................................

...................................52 Findings..............................................................................................90 vii ...........................................................................................................................................................................................Chapter IV...........................................................................78 Implications and Recommendations .......................................................88 REFERENCES ................ Page FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS ....................................52 Introduction ...............................................58 Conclusions ...................................82 Future Research ...............................................................................................

........................................... Page Sample Size: Cross-Sectional or Oversample....................... 19................................................................... 2.....................................................56 Have Youth’s Parents Divorced (Each Other or Someone Else) In Last 5 Yrs...................................................54 Sample Sizes by Subsamples....................66 Parenting Style and Drug Sales.......... 11................................................. 3....................................................................... 5.. 13........ 17........62 Lives with Both Parents and Property Damage .....................................................73 Unemployment and Drug Sales .................................................................... Race/Ethnicity & Gender .................................................................................63 Lives with Both Parents and Drug Sales........................................74 Divorce and Theft .................. 16............. 6...........75 Divorce and Property Damage ........76 viii ..............68 Conflict and Theft ........ 4................................................... 14.............. 7.......................65 Parenting Style and Property Damage ........................ 15.......................................................................... 8............................................................ 12....................................................... 18..LIST OF TABLES Table 1.....71 Unemployment and Theft ...................59 Biological Parent vs.... 10......................................................72 Unemployment and Property Damage ............................................................................. Divorced Household ...........69 Conflict and Property Damage.64 Parenting Style and Theft................................................ 9.................59 Does Youth Live With Both Biological Parents ...............................70 Conflict and Drug Sales .............................60 Lives with Both Parents and Theft...........

...............................................................20. Divorce and Drug Sales ..........................77 ix .

.79 Myers Developmental Distress Model (MDDM) .....................................................LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.......……………................ 3........78 Comparison Chart: Delinquency Behaviors and Divorce Aspects........81 x ........ 2........ Page Application of NLSY97 Variables to Study .......

According to Cherlin (1992) approximately 5% of marriages resulted in divorce at the beginning of the 20th century. 2001. 1990. 2000). 2003). Hetherington (1993) produced a study showing that adolescent boys were 16% more likely and adolescent girls were 24% more likely to develop serious behavioral problems that would require some form of professional counseling. Price & Kunz. 1994). but in recent years. studies indicate that nearly half of all first marriages will end in separation. McLanahan & Sandefur.S. 2000. Half of these marital separations involve children under the age of 18 (Amato. 1 . after controlling for socio-economic and other factors. Amato & Keith. children of divorced parents are considerably more likely to be plagued with lower self-esteem and higher delinquency rates than their counterparts from completely intact families (Amato. Although much of the research (Amato. The end result is that two out of every five children will be a product of marital dissolution (Bumpass. Census Bureau (2009) has estimated that there will be more than 21 million children raised in non-intact families by the year 2010. 1991) has shown that the degree to which children of divorced parents demonstrate behavioral problems is slight.CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Researchers have continually asserted that. The U. The idea that children raised in non-traditional family structures suffer more often from internal as well as external behavioral problems has become an increasingly alarming condition for most social scientists when taken in consideration with the increase in divorce rates American families have experienced over the last century.

intensified depression. under the age of eighteen years who experienced parental divorce in early childhood. Antecol & Bedard. reduced psychological adjustment. Furthermore. and escalated juvenile delinquency.It has been determined through a variety studies and meta-analysis that. The purpose of this study was to determine what aspect or aspects of divorce are associated with an increased probability of criminally delinquent behavior among adolescent children. 1994. Statement of the Problem The results of various research has demonstrated that adolescent children. 1991. this study identified the need for further research in order to develop strategies that are available to communities in mitigating the effects of divorce on adolescent delinquency. Background Early studies concerning the effect that divorce has on adolescent development have been centered on two types of research design identified as cross-sectional and longitudinal. on average. are more likely to be criminally delinquent than children of a traditional intact family. children from divorced families suffer more behavioral problems and have lower self-esteem than children from a traditional intact family (Amato & Booth. In the cross-sectional design researchers compare the children of a traditional two-parent family with children of divorce at a single moment in time while the social scientists who rely upon the longitudinal model compare groups of children 2 . Amato & Keith. increased behavioral problems. The change of view was due to the overwhelming evidence that pointed to divorce as the cause of lower academic scores. lower self-esteem. The position that children are resilient enough to adapt to the major stressors of divorce and show no long lasting effects has been disregarded by many social scientists in recent years. 2007).

The general consensus among social scientists has been that children of divorce have a more difficult time adjusting during adolescence than children from an intact family (Amato. 1994). These theories are labeled as (a) parental absence theory. Although both research designs have advantages. and (f) the incompetent parenting theory. neither rely upon a control group and are therefore open to generalization. (c) interparental conflict theory.from both a traditional family and a divorced family over an extended period of time (Amato & Booth. (d) economic hardship theory. Seltzer 1994). social scientists have begun to proffer alternative assumptions or theories explaining youth’s reaction to divorce and the increased likelihood of adjustment disorders including amplified levels of criminal delinquency. This generalization has often been misrepresented by many social organizations as evidence that the act of divorce itself causes poor childhood adjustment even though leading researchers have attempted to explain that simple correlation does not equate to causation (Popenoe. 2000. 1996). and quality time. guidance. Each parent provides specific types of support for their children and the children rely 3 . Amato (1993) described the parental absence or parental loss theory as the reduced amount of exposure between the children and the noncustodial parent. The unintended affect is the perceived or actual loss of affection. In order to move research from the already established correlation to theories of causation. (b) parental adjustment theory. In an effort to reduce confusion concerning the overall effect of divorce. Furthermore. (e) life stress theory. this confusion over the established research has resulted in public disagreement over the effects of divorce on children. social scientists such as Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003) presented six hypotheses that attempted to provide a direct link between divorce and adolescent maladjustment.

Less 4 . anxiety. relies on information concerning both predivorce and postdivorce marital discord. Kelly & Emery. and self-doubt (Hetherington. Cox. 1982). depression. 1991). Furthermore. The custodial parent’s psychological state following the divorce has been identified as the focal point of the parental adjustment theory. Because this marital discord often occurs prior to divorce. These feelings have been identified as roadblocks to effective communication and appropriate levels of affection between the custodial parent and the child. In certain circumstances. anger. the parental hostility has been shown to imprint on children causing these children to be more verbally and physically aggressive. The third assumption. & Cox. the interparental conflict theory. Children react negatively when faced with marital discord on a regular basis. children can become fearful of the family’s security and may even suffer from poor nutrition. 2008. The great majority of children reside with the mother following a divorce and this often leads to a decrease in the family’s standard of living. Increased levels of marital conflict or violence have been shown to effect a child’s psychological development negatively (Amato & Cheadle. Amato (1993) suggested that the conflict is the cause of lower well-being among the youth rather than divorce itself. The economic hardship or economic loss theory is centered on the idea that divorce reduces the economic resources available to the now single-parent household.upon these lifelines. and anger. Children show increased levels of fear. Divorce has often been accompanied with increased feelings of anxiety. which has been documented as leading to harsher discipline and less supervision (Amato & Keith. Divorce often removes accessibility to half of these support systems and advocates of the parental loss theory have explained that a parent’s absence is problematic for adolescent development. 2003).

changing schools. Research has indicated that parents have reported a diminished ability to parent properly directly following a divorce. These social scientists have recognized that many variables exist contributing to the increased levels of behavioral problems including delinquent behavior and have narrowed these variables into six assumptions or theories. provided the baseline for this study. Often a parent’s remarriage will have ended in a subsequent divorce. along with the previous research. Research has shown that parenting skills and the types of relationships maintained between divorced parents and their children are strong influences on a child’s well-being (Kelly & Emery. 2003). 1984). Stress has been shown to accumulate in children of divorce throughout childhood which has been shown to cause a delay in adolescent development (Amato & Booth. Researchers have redirected their studies in order to move from the simple understanding that a correlation exists between divorce and a child’s well-being in an effort to discover the direct cause of adolescent maladjustment among children of divorce.economic resources often leads a family to reside in less than desirable neighborhoods with increased levels of crime and violence. 5 . 1994). These six theories. The life stress theory is based on the changes in the child’s environmental familiarity. reduces a family’s access to educational tools such as tutors and computers. Amato (1993) explained that the skills parents possess in dealing with children have a profound influence on a child’s well-being. a parent’s remarriage. and reduced supervision due to the possibility of a parent taking on secondary employment. The last theory proffered was the incompetent parenting theory. causing the child to relive all of the previous negative experiences (Bumpass. These stressors include moving. and loss of friendships.

. Morse. For the purposes of this study adolescence was identified specifically as the period between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. 29). Biological Parent. Behavioral Problems. Children. The relationship between a parent and child bound by genetics as opposed to adoption or marriage (Mish et al.. 1997). Antisocial personality traits.. 1997). theft. 1997). Gilman. p. An example of antisocial behavior would be any criminal activity. Children are the male or female offspring (son or daughter) who are between the periods of infancy and youth and may be heavily influenced by parents or others (Mish et al. 6 . Adolescence is “the process or period of growth between childhood and maturity” (Mish. & Neufeldt. Copeland.Research Question What aspect of divorce is most likely associated with an increase in criminally delinquent behavior among adolescent children under the age of eighteen years? Description of Terms Adolescence. Behavioral problems as defined in this paper are internal as well as external functions of behavior that are contrary to normally accepted patterns. External behavioral problems would include any of the above listed antisocial personality traits while internal behavioral problems would be recognized as depression or personal feelings of isolation. illegal drug use. such as burglary. or underage consumption of alcoholic beverages (Mish et al. Lowe. Antisocial personality traits are recognized in this study as behaviors exhibited by a juvenile that would normally be considered contrary or hostile to the well-being of society. 1997.

. 1997. a group of persons of common ancestry” (Mish et al. & Booth. Loomis. 228). is a family consisting of both biological parents and any direct biological offspring living within one household. A custodial parent was recognized as the parent that was legally bound to be in immediate charge and control of a child (Mish et al. laws. Divorce. p.. Externalized Behavioral Problems. These symptoms include depression. Internalized Behavioral Problems. Divorce is “the act or instance of legally dissolving a marriage” (Mish et al. cheating. Intact Family. Delinquency was defined as the purposeful neglect or violation of established rules. The intact family. Delinquency. p. externalized behavioral problems include aggressive behaviors such as fighting. Family. or commonly accepted social norms. 361). A household includes. 1997. 1995). p. feelings of 7 . High conflict marriage refers to the increased level of friction encountered within a marriage prior to a separation or divorce. “those who dwell as a family under the same roof” (Mish et al. 1997). High Conflict Marriage. Internalized behavioral problems are explained as symptoms that are emotionally-based. A family is “a group of individuals living under one roof and under one head. as recognized in this study.Custodial Parent. Along with the already identified antisocial personality traits and criminal behavior. and lying.. For the purposes of this study the family was recognized in its traditional form as two married parents and their direct biological children. 274). The friction can range from continual arguing to open physical abuse (Amato. Household. teasing.. The intact family does not include any stepparent or stepchild structure. 1997.

The low conflict marriage is distinguished from the high conflict marriage by having low to moderate levels of conflict with no instances of physical abuse. Juvenile.isolation. or fear (Birmaher. under the age of adulthood. Marriage. etc.000 households from across the nation representing both genders and all ethnicities. Williamson. Kaufman. A divorce is a marital dissolution. Parents in a low conflict marriage are careful to shield their children from marital disagreements (Amato. Loomis. & Dahl. A juvenile delinquent is defined as a young person. A juvenile is a young person who is “below the legally established age of adulthood” (Mish et al. The survey involved nearly 9. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 8 . criminal behavior. or commonly accepted social norms. 2009).. Brent. 410). 1997). Marriage as referenced in this paper is defined in the legal sense as the joining of a man and woman as a husband and wife according to law and custom. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) was a survey administered annually over a ten year period beginning in 1997. A minor is legally defined as a youth who has not yet reached the age of 18 years old. 1997. withdrawn behavior. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). who commits violations of established rules.000 participants and over 6. Ryan. The participants were surveyed on a variety of topics such as family structure. Minor. 1995). (U. This is a person who has a tendency to display antisocial behavior (Mish et al.S. education. Marital Dissolution. Marital dissolution is the final termination of a marriage beyond a legal separation. Low Conflict Marriage. & Booth.. Juvenile Delinquent. 1996). p. anxiety. laws. employment.

A stepparent is the married partner of a son or daughter’s biological parent. 666).. Predivorce marital discord. Separation. Predivorce marital discord refers to the high level of marital conflict and violence experienced prior to a divorce and generally believed to continue between the partners long after the divorce is finalized (Amato. A separation is “a formal separating of a married couple by agreement but without divorce” (Mish et al. 1995). Youth is defined as “the period of life between childhood and maturity” (Mish et al. Stepparent. Loomis. & Booth. The single-parent is responsible for the care and welfare of the children as well as the maintenance of the household. p. 9 .. 859). 1997. Kelly and Emery (2003) listed these stressors as: exposure to parental conflict. 1997. Stressors. or involving both social and economic factors” (Mish et al. p.. poor parental adjustment. parental loss. Single-Parent Household. 1997. such as change of school and residence. economic loss. this researcher has defined socioeconomic as the financial state or condition of a family or household. A single-parent household is a family consisting of only one custodial parent living within a residence. Socioeconomic. Stressors are the unintentional consequences of divorce experienced by the family and more specifically the children following the parent’s separation. Specifically. incompetent parenting. p.Paramour. A paramour is defined by this researcher as a boyfriend or girlfriend without any legal bond or commitment to their partner. Youth. Socioeconomic is formally defined as “relating to. A stepparent has no biological or genetic relation to a child but is identified as a parent solely through the marital relationship. 691). and environmental discord.

First. (c) incompetent parenting.Significance of the Study This study has made three specific contributions to the current research literature. The researcher’s choice of data collection focused on the correlational survey method along with the archival method through the use of comparative frequency tables. Third.S. (e) economic loss. Amato (1993) as well as Kelly and Emery (2003) have identified these six theories as: (a) parental conflict. This study has furthered previous research by identifying the specific aspect of divorce that causes increased juvenile delinquency among children of divorce. comparing childhood development in divorced families with childhood development in traditional families. and lower academic achievement. this study has given direction for further research which would investigate innovative and new strategies that will assist families and communities in mitigating the effects of divorce on the social well-being of the nation’s youth. Although the information collected may appear to be qualitative in nature due to the heavy reliance on surveys and the interpretation of the 10 . although there has been a great deal of research dedicated to divorce and the effects on offspring. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. (b) parental adjustment. this study did not focus entirely on divorce. Second. rather it investigated the six leading theories offered by researchers related to the social adjustment and well-being of children from non-intact families. previous research has focused almost entirely on the overall consequences such as increased externalized behavioral problems. Procedure to Accomplish The author of this paper relied upon a quantitative research model using data obtained through the U. (d) parental loss. increased internalized problems. and (f) environmental discord.

the author chose to rely on data resulting from the use of a national longitudinal survey. The first was a cross-sectional sample that represented the entire population.984 participants selected the survey administrators developed two separate samples. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). Mennemeyer & Sen. Antecol & Bedard. NLSY97 interviewers visited these households in order to identify children that were within the parameters of the survey group. 2006). that was born between the years 1980 and 1984. 2006. Hamilton. & King. 2007. a widely accepted primary research tool (Amato & Booth. The interviewer accepted either a biological parent or a stepparent from each household. These administrators described a primary sampling unit as metropolitan area. & Powell. The children had to be between the ages of 12 and 16 prior to December 31. 2007. 1995. Due to the author’s desire to have a nationally representative sample. If the interviewer selected one of the children. 1996 and had to reside within the household. 1996. Hawkins. In order to achieve this representative sample size. within the United States. such as a major city. statistical data. 1994. & Booth. Cheung. the administrators of the survey examined 75. Amato. then one of the youth’s parents was also asked to participate. Loomis. The second sample was a supplemental sample representative of the African-American and 11 . Amato. Amato & Booth.291 households in 147 primary sampling units. From the 8. distributed and administered by the U. 2008. Amato & Cheadle. was a series of surveys distributed nationwide that began in 1997 and continued annually until 2007. or a single county in the more rural areas of the nation.984 respondents.data received. nationally representative sample and a conclusion based upon objective. the study’s author emphasized the need for a large. The NLSY97’s original sample included 8.S. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97).

provided the author and researcher of this study ample information in order to develop accurate conclusions. military.819 individual households.984 respondents selected derived from 6. family structure.Hispanic populations born in those same years. discipline. went on to survey the youth participants concerning illegal cigarette use. audio computer-assisted selfinterview technology.S. The researcher utilized the NLSY97 (U. dating. Bureau of Labor Statistics. childcare and discipline assisted the researcher in developing a workable data set. The early 8. welfare. The use of the audio computer-assisted self-interview technology was to ensure that the respondents would be more truthful in their responses. illegal alcohol and drug use. sexual activity. were surveyed annually for ten years. including one parent or guardian from each household. childcare. Survey administrators believed that this process provided a more accurate representation of the national population. The variety of questions asked through the use of computer-assisted interviews covered a number of topics affecting America’s youth such as: employment. The latter information along with family make-up.984 respondents. training. 2009) as the primary research tool in collecting necessary data. assets. through the use of private. income. The interviewers. household environment. and other criminal activity. along with previously available research and studies. education. sexual behavior. This large sample size. income. and health. The NLSY97 was a survey that documented the development of children as they transitioned from school to employment as well as from adolescence to adulthood. The 8. The method the researcher followed to dissect and organize available data into a workable conclusion included the following five steps: 12 .

1. the researcher was able to discover an association between the adolescent youth’s environment and increased delinquency and then identify what aspect or aspects of divorce most likely leads to the development of externalized delinquent behavior. Delinquent youths were identified as belonging to a family of divorce or a traditional family. 13 . Information was extracted from the NLSY97 that identified delinquent youth respondents (U. etc. Through the data extracted from the NLSY97. The most common factors among juvenile delinquents and their environmental upbringing were identified. discipline.S. trends were identified in the delinquent youth’s economic and demographic environment which included finances. parental support. 3. Previous studies were reviewed in order to confirm conclusions that showed adolescent youth from divorced families were statistically more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior than youth raised under the traditional intact family structure. 4. 2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By following this five step investigative method. 5. parental monitoring. 2009).

2009).9 crimes reported per every 100.417.323.S.484. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bureau of the Census. a crime rate increase of nearly 300 percent. juveniles currently represent just 26 percent of the population and that is expected to rise to 31 percent by the year 2010 (U.745 reported violent crimes with a United States population of 299. since 1996 there has been a steady annual decrease averaging 3. As the senior population is expected to decline and the junior population is 14 . Department of Justice (2009). U. as reported by the U. Similarly. the juvenile arrests decreased nearly 30 percent since it reached a twenty year high in 1996. In 2002.S. beginning in 1996. Even though there has been a significant rise in crime across the nation since 1960.CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction Over the last half-century society has experienced a steady increase in the national crime rate. with a population numbering just 179. the number of juvenile adolescents as a percentage of the total population equaled the proportion of overall arrests accounting for nearly 26 percent. The Federal Bureau of Investigation detailed that in 1960.000 persons in the population in 1960 as compared to the 2006 rate of 473. the national violent crime rate was just 160.000 persons. Department of Justice. juvenile crime rates have fallen in the same manner as the total national crime rate.398.5 reported crimes per 100.S. there were 288.5 percent.460 violent crimes reported. Although.175 American citizens. In 2006 there were 1. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2009).

2003) has indicated that nearly half of the households suffering from marital dissolution involve adolescent children. Kelly & Emery. Price & Kunz. Further research (Amato. inappropriate media influence.S. This was verified by the sudden increase in crime during the 1960s as the baby boomers entered their teen years and also by the 1990s decrease due to the maturing of the zero-population generation. The end result is that nearly 40 % of all children are a construction of divorce. Census Bureau (2009). Just as the nation’s population has increased over the 20th century.expected to rise. Many of these theories are centered on age population. more than 21 million children 15 . Additional explanations for the increase in juvenile crime provided by Seigel and Welsh included a poor economy. Seigel and Welsh (2005) explained that general increases and decreases in crime model the fluctuations in the juvenile male population. 2000. so has the rate of divorce. and racial conflict. lack of education. Scholars such as Amato and Mclanahan and Sandefur (1994) have long argued that adolescents who are a product of households that have suffered from marital disruption are more likely to participate in delinquent behavior than children from secure households. and other social problems such as: divorce. it can be anticipated that juvenile crime will have an adverse effect on the national crime rate causing crime to increase as the numbers of juveniles increase. however these circumstances are discussed as a product of divorce or a deviation in family structure. drug abuse. 2003) have provided a counter argument by explaining that the juvenile crime rate may increase due to poor financial position. drug abuse. Many theories have been presented in an attempt to explain an increase in crime. lack of education. etc. Studies (Cherlin. Other researchers (Amato. 1992) have shown that the rate of divorce in first-time marriages has increased from just 5% at the beginning of the last century to current divorce rate of nearly 50%. According to the U. 1993.

Amato labeled these hypotheses as: (a) the Parental Loss Perspective. were an attempt to correlate the multiple consequences of divorce on the family structure with the apparent maladjustment suffered during a youth’s adolescence. Research in juvenile criminal delinquency as related to marital separation has transitioned from a simple explanation of causation to a more complex series of theories. Similarly. 1991. Antecol & Bedard. In separate studies. formative-developmental years in single-parent households. Kelly and Emery (2003) provided six theories on stressors leading to increased delinquent behavior among adolescent children of divorce. presented by various social scientists. Popenoe (1996) has cautioned. and (e) the Life Stress Perspective. (d) the Economic Hardship Perspective. however. Amato presented five perspectives in an attempt to provide alternate explanations for adolescent maladjustment resulting from non-intact households. Subsequently.will spend there critical. (b) the Parental Adjustment Perspective. (c) the Interparental Conflict Perspective. (c) 16 . researchers such as Amato (2000) and Seltzer (1994) have described divorce as a possible indicator of adolescent maladjustment. The current consensus among researchers (Amato & Keith. (b) Parental Conflict. These six theories were identified as: (a) Stress of the Initial Separation. This current trend of sociological thought is in complete contradiction to the previous belief that children were quick to recover from emotional distress or loss. 2007) is that adolescent youth do suffer emotionally and socially from martial separation often leading to destructive episodes of delinquent behavior. These theories. Amato (1993) as well as Kelly and Emery (2003) presented similar hypotheses explaining the relationship of family disruption with childhood adjustment disorders that included increased criminal behavior. that social scientists should not be too quick to confuse correlation with causation.

(e) Economic Opportunities. Amato explained that with two parents there is more supervision and emotional support. and quality time shared with the noncustodial parent. Kelly and Emery (2003) provided a comparable perspective in their loss of important relationship hypothesis. no one theory can fully explain the connection. guidance. Because of this. (d) Loss of Important Relationships. Kelly and Emery further explained that children of divorce have 17 . Likewise. Kelly and Emery explained that children who are accustomed to visiting with both parents on a daily basis may suffer emotionally when the frequency of visits with a nonresident parent is reduced to just a few days a month. Amato (1993) explained that.Diminished Parenting after Divorce or Incompetent Parenting. Amato explained that a broader model was necessary that was capable of illustrating some interconnectedness of all the above listed perspectives. and (f) Remarriage and Repartnering. Parental Loss Perspective Amato’s (1993) parental loss perspective identified that the existence of two parents in the household generally provides for a more stable and emotionally balanced home life for children. and the length of time the stressor was prominent within the youth’s development. Kelly and Emery rationalized that the outcome of these divorcerelated stressors varied from child to child. each parent provides a specific form of support function within the household and the inadvertent consequence of divorce is a perceived or actual loss of affection. Kelly and Emery explained that the effect of these stressors on adolescence was dependent upon the number of stressors experienced. Amato further rationalized that two parents can possibly serve as role models for a youth’s social development. According to Amato. the severity of each stressor. although the relationship between adolescent development and parental separation appears to be associated. From their observations.

2003) was in support of the conclusion that the emotionally maladjusted and distant parent was often provided less affection and was generally more harsh in dispensing discipline. Due to increased levels of depression. 1991). (1982) explained that the negative emotions associated with divorce such as anger. and self-doubt. the increased stress experienced due to the separation leads to lower levels of affection and care which often results in harsher discipline and less supervision (Amato & Keith. Kelly and Emery (2003) supported Amato in this perspective in their own hypothesis of diminished parenting. 1983). and substance abuse experienced by these parents. 1990. presents communication roadblocks. According to Kitson and Morgan 18 . the essential skills necessary for providing the proper nurturing or supportive environment for the child are absent. However. depression. Maccoby & Martin. Many researchers have agreed that the healthy development of children during adolescence is dependent upon supportive and present parents (Belsky. Parental Adjustment Perspective A second perspective offered by Amato (1993) that focused on the psychological state of the custodial parent following a divorce was the parental adjustment hypothesis. anxiety.continually described the loss of contact with one parent as the primary negative consequence of divorce. Kelly and Emery explained that the parents are often more focused on their own emotional well-being in response to the marital dissolution than the social and emotional needs of the children. Kelly and Emery discovered that the children often become the sole support for the parents on an emotional level. Furthermore. if the custodial parent has suffered from emotional stress following a separation. Hetherington (as cited Kelly and Emery. anxiety. Hetherington et al. In addition.

Through this hypothesis. Amato explained that increased conflict and/or violence within a marriage. Kelly and Emery explained that divorced hostile parents often directed their rage at the former spouse while the children were present or by having the children themselves pass on negative information to the former spouses. 19 . fear and stress (Amato). & Dornbusch. Kelly and Emery (2003) agreed that marital discord and violence would have a negative effect on adolescent development. Maccoby. Children raised in a hostile setting may experience a wide range of emotions and stresses not normally associated with childhood development. forced to take sides. Kelly & Emery.(1990) the experience of divorce is one of the most stressful events a person could ever suffer and the great majority of adults have adjustment difficulties. has been shown to have a negative effect on a child’s psychological development (Amato & Cheadle. This may lead to increased delinquent behavior as the children have learned through imprinting that fighting is an appropriate response to a disagreement. 2003). according to Grynch and Fincham (1990). both pre. An even more precarious situation may develop as a child learns to model the parents’ behavior towards conflict resolution. 2008. Children caught in the crosshairs of this interparental conflict often suffer from increased negative emotions that include anger.and postdivorce. Children raised in this type of hostile environment are often found to be even more depressed and ragefilled than children of low-conflict separations (Buchanan. is that children of combative parents are often drawn into the parents’ dispute. and sometimes even assume responsibility for the conflict. Parental Conflict Perspective Amato (1993) next identified the interparental conflict perspective. Another risk.

The failure of these juveniles to complete school perpetuates the circle of poverty that may lead directly to an increase in delinquent behavior. All of the effects of a lower social standard may cause the single-parent to seek secondary employment or even cause the children to quit school due to the lack of proper supervision or a preference to raise money on their own. Kelly and Emery documented that poorer single mothers changed residences 75 % more often than the average mother within the first six years following a separation. found that predivorce conflict is more so the catalyst for lower self-worth among adolescents than the separation itself. Amato (1993). 1985. computers. lower income has reduced a family’s access to quality schools. and books (McLanahan & Booth. Furthermore. Kelly and Emery (2003) have also recognized reduced economic opportunities as a contributor to delinquent actions among adolescent children. however.1991). Proponents of this hypothesis have argued that the economic hardship is brought about because most children live with their mothers as the primary. 2003). residential custodian. This scenario generally leads to a reduced standard of living than the children were previously accustomed to (Duncan & Hoffman. 1993). Kelly & Emery. The 20 . 1989). 2002). This instability in a child’s homelife leads to difficulty in building relationships as well as joining and participating in group organizations or sports (Hetherington & Kelly. Parental Economic Hardship Perspective The belief that fewer economic means brought about by divorce or marital separation leads to the negative development of adolescent children has been identified as the economic hardship perspective (Amato. The reduction of economic resources has been shown to force single-parent households into less than desirable neighborhoods that suffer from high crime and increased gang activity.

Pre-divorce events such as aggression. Bumpass (1984) discovered that these stressors are often exasperated as children experience divorce repeatedly as parents fail in their subsequent second or third marriages or relationships. anxiety. Neubaum. neglect. Similarly. and possibly welcoming new stepsiblings each have been shown to have a negative effect on a child’s development. Brody.economic hardship perspective was identified in an effort to account for the financial loss suffered through divorce. anger. The repetitive submersion into the negative environmental consequences of divorce stunts the mental and social development of these children. few children are prepared emotionally for the separation itself. These children were discovered to suffer from increaserd levels of stress. Parental Life Stress Perspective Divorce has been shown to bring stress on all members of a family unit sometimes causing even more stress among the children than on the separating spouses. and Forehand (1988) discovered that the pre-divorce experiences suffered by the children of marital separation are often duplicated in subsequent marriages as the children are exposed to neglect. post-divorce consequences such as moving from home to home. and violence create a negative environment that hinders growth in adolescent children. The parents even neglect to hear concerns from the children allowing the anxiety created by separation to build in these children with no positive outlet (Kelly. parents often neglect to explain the causes of divorce and the processes to the children. Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) learned that. losing friends and pets. 21 . changing schools. even though the pre-divorce and post-divorce environments provide little support for the healthy adolescent development. and depression (Wallerstein & Kelly). Furthermore. conflict and economic hardship.

Children who witness short-term serial relationships are found struggling in developing their own mature emotional and intimate relationships (Kelly & Emery). eventually remarry. 1990). however Kelly and Emery (2003) have identified remarriage and repartnering as an entirely separate hypothesis in identifying the correlation between divorce and childhood delinquency. 1994). Kelly and Emery (2003) agree with Amato in that the initial separation and subsequent events support a life stress hypothesis. and more than half of those numbers cohabitate with their paramour prior to remarrying (Bumpass. This inability to establish even some semblance of grounding has been shown to have the effect of retarding the child’s emotional and social development.1993). Family relationships are strained with each separation and with each new union by one or both of the child’s parents. Sweet. Remarriage and Repartnering This perspective has been discussed as a factor in many of the previous listed perspectives. these children generally do not benefit from the stability of a single household or residence and feel that they can not communicate directly with either parent as they are shuffled from home to home. The repetitive accumulations of stress experienced by children who suffer through their parent’s marital separation throughout childhood have been shown to delay their adolescent development (Amato & Booth. male and female. & Castro-Martin. Amato (1993) discovered 22 . According to Kelly and Emery. According to Kelly and Emery increases in divorce raises the potential for children to experience repetitive emotional let-downs. Studies have revealed that more than half of divorced parents. The consequence of this is that children are often left alone to build identity in face of family dissolution.

nearly 1.6 million adolescents were charged with crimes in 2002 ranging from simple status crimes. has been the first generation to spend more time viewing violent crimes on television than time spent in classrooms. Historical View of Juvenile Delinquency in America According to the U.that the addition of a step-parent or step-siblings can prove to be stressful for the whole family unit. Census Bureau (2009). This growing generation of children. they are bombarded with images contrary to the expected norms of society. juvenile delinquency and the study of youth crime has occupied criminologists for centuries. are children under the age of eighteen. 25% of the population. a period of uncertainty. parents as well as children. as described by Davis (1998). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) (2003). or approximately seventy-three million persons. According to Seigel and Welsh (2005) adolescents encounter a period of personality development that is extremely susceptible to external stimuli as well as a period of biological growth causing uncontrollable hormonal changes. and mood fluctuations.S. The number of children is expected to grow to a population of over eighty million by 2020. Early nineteenth century treatment of juvenile delinquents was focused more on the control of rather than the rehabilitation or reform of adolescent offenders. During this period of American history it was common practice for the justice system to treat children 23 . to more serious felonies including murder. 1988). As American youth enter into their adolescent years. anxiety. such as curfew. These developmental changes experienced by youth combined with a desire to discover their own self-worth and gain independence from parents has often created an explosive environment leading to an increase in delinquent behavior (Sutton. Even though today’s society has been inundated with this increased amount of negative stimuli.

Shortly after the turn of the century the progressive movement was successful in the establishment of the first juvenile justice system. The use of this new term was promoted in an effort to prevent the labeling of juvenile offenders as criminals and thus stigmatizing the children during one of the most impressionable periods in their lives. and capital punishment. As the nineteenth century progressed the attitude toward juvenile offenders began to soften and society became more sensitive towards the differences between adults and adolescents. 2005). The primary focus of juvenile courts was to intervene on the behalf of these children so that criminal behavior could be mitigated. The attitude towards delinquent children at this time in American history was so severe that. 1987). Up to the mid-nineteenth century criminal delinquents were seen in the same scope as their adult counterparts.extremely harsh in the same manner as adult offenders (Pleck. strict laws were passed that required the youth to stringently follow rules instituted by their parents. however progressive groups within the major urban areas such as New York and Chicago started to push for dissimilar treatment and lobbied for the development of a separate juvenile justice system (Seigel & Welsh. The direction of the courts’ focus was based upon a growing upsurge in the belief that the courts should intercede in juvenile criminal matters on behalf of the state 24 . During this period no distinction was made between children and adults in regards to sentencing and all offenders were subject to corporal punishment. 13) and that also led to the use of the term delinquent. imprisonment. It was also at this time the connection was first made indicating that delinquent adolescents were the byproduct of poor upbringing and improper parenting in the home. according to Pleck (1989). Seigel and Welsh explained that this was the first great awakening in the “developing national consciousness of children’s needs” (p.

As a result of continued societal pressures. create shelters and detention facilities for runaways. and (e) juveniles more easily fall prey to peer pressure. Newman (1978) explained that the courts have historically treated juvenile crime more mercifully because (a) juveniles exhibit riskier behavior. 1969). Feld (1993) supported the idea of stricter controls based on his own research that revealed that many juvenile 25 . Twenty-first century measures have included the passing of legislation that required states to keep less violent juvenile delinquents detained separately from the more violent and serious offenders (Datesman & Aickin. Courts generally charged juveniles as delinquents in an effort to protect the minor from permanent labeling as a result of youthful indiscretions. usually seventeen or eighteen years old. many juvenile judges have argued that the reduction of control allowed to the courts would lead to an increase in juvenile crime and will lead to the juvenile offenders committing more serious offenses in the future. authorized the creation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in order to distribute grant funds to local communities and states for special programs to assist juveniles in need.S. (b) juveniles fail to accurately weigh the consequences of their behavior. According to Robinson and Arnold (2000).prior to these children committing more serious crimes (Platt. 1985). Juvenile charges are undisclosed and may be purged as the child reaches the legal age of adulthood. the U. (d) they tend to lack self-control. The generalizational trend towards the relaxation of accountability in juvenile justice laws has created much disagreement within the courts. This legislation. the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Congress took additional steps to further protect the adolescent offender. (c) children are more impulsive. Consequently the courts took special precautions to protect youth offenders. and provide training for officials tasked with the care and authority of minors in need (Datesman & Aickin).

The FBI collects data from all local and state law enforcement agencies in an effort to monitor crime trends. The data presented by the FBI (2003) showed that crime between the years 1960 and 1991 quickly increased from a low of 3. 2006).5 million or 15% of all arrests. The information provided by the FBI and the U. a 21% decrease from the 1991 high of 14 million. More recently.8 million reported crimes in 2002. yet according to the FBI juveniles only accounted for a total of 15% of all reported arrests. Regardless of the various expert viewpoints and arguments. The U. since 2002 there has been a steady decline in the amount of juvenile arrests in relation to population. In 2002 the FBI reported that juveniles under the age of 18 years made up a total of 26% of arrests which matched the juvenile proportion of the total population. However.delinquents. Juvenile Delinquency within America It has long been the practice of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to compile and publish all reported crimes throughout the nation annually. only one constant remains that juvenile delinquency and criminal activity has always been and most likely will always be part of the American landscape (Kidd.S. specifically runaways. suffer emotional disorders that lead to wide range of destructive behaviors.S. also 26%. Census Bureau has demonstrated that juvenile crime rates have been 26 . Census Bureau (2009) reported that juveniles made up 25% of the total population in 2008. In 2008 the FBI reported that there were slightly over 10 million total arrests and juveniles constituted approximately 1. This was followed by a steady decline until reaching a level of approximately 11. according to the FBI (2008) data there were a total of 11.3 million reported crimes to a high of over 14 million reported crimes in 1991.1 million reported crimes in 2008.

Fox (1996) argued that because the nation will experience a steady climb in the juvenile population. Alternatively. economy. and Issacson (1999) contend that the nation’s rise in crime between the years 1960 and 1991 was a direct result of the maturation of the baby-boomer generation. Levitt explained that along with a growing juvenile population the nation will also experience an increase in the senior population. agreed that the future generation may experience an increase in juvenile crime however he wrote that the overall crime rate will be relatively unaffected by the increase in delinquency. Even though researchers have disagreed on the specific causes leading to increased delinquency. there is very little divergence on the numerous factors that have contributed to these causes. Another researcher. whether juvenile or adult. however fluctuations in criminal arrests as well as reported crimes have always been the norm in American society. The cause of fluctuations in the nation’s crime rate. The continued decline of adolescent delinquency rates has been a subject of expert divisiveness. Levitt (1999). O’Brien. will offset juvenile crime leading to a continued decline in overall crime rates. Levitt (2004) did agree with Fox in that the primary major contributor to juvenile delinquency is youth experiencing essential developmental years in broken homes or difficult home environments. The increase in seniors along with a minimized middle-age population. and social dysfunction.declining over the last decade. A large number of criminologists have pointed directly to variability in age as the primary factor in rising crime. the 27 . juvenile crime will reach an all-time high. among these are age. Fox explained that many more of these children are products of unstable home environments which will also contribute to an increased propensity for crime. has been studied by numerous researchers. according to Levitt. Stockard.

they explain. Seigel and Welsh declared that long term economic weakness along with a rising youth population in the future will generate juvenile delinquency rates even higher then the pre-1991 levels. Smailes. Seigel and Welsh (2005) provided a slightly different view concerning the influence of a weak economy. Kasen. They explained that during a short-term economic downturn there is an increase in parental supervision caused by increased unemployment. Seigel and Welsh also rationalized that fewer prospects of economic recovery within the nation’s inner-cities may inadvertently lead youth towards lifestyles that include violence. Donohue and Levitt (1999) discovered that nations with the greatest numbers of children born to teenage or single mothers are also the nations with the highest child homicide rates. Juvenile unemployment. the state of the economy in relation to juvenile crime was also a topic of debate among experts. such as divorce. Kleck and Chiricos described. 2002). Many researchers have focused on the dysfunctions of society as an explanation of childhood crime. The increase in parental supervision. Similar to the disagreement on age. and burglary. A general belief has been that rising unemployment equates to rising crime but Kleck and Chiricos (2002) claimed that there has been no direct relationship between unemployment and adolescent delinquency. and higher 28 . drug dealing. A down economy historically produces increased unemployment.subsequent declines in crime have been attributed to the large number of seniors within the nation’s population along with a reduced number of children under the age of eighteen (Johnson. In addition. may create an atmosphere or environment of despair leading to an increase in criminal behavior. Cohen. provided a control mechanism over children that is unavailable when parents are away at work. Donohue and Levitt explained that there was a distinct correlation between increased social problems. & Brook.

delinquency rates. They rationalized that children of single parent homes are more likely to become involved in delinquent behavior because single parent households are twice as likely to suffer economically as families with both parents still at home. Subsequently, juvenile crime rates have declined on par with the decrease in the amount of teen pregnancies and single parent households (Seigel & Welsh, 2005). Researchers have attempted to breakdown the previously discussed factors in order to determine a more specific understanding of which individual as well as social characteristics are most likely associated with juvenile delinquency (Seigel & Welsh, 2005). The various personal traits identified as being most clearly related to increased adolescent misbehavior are age, race, gender, and social status. These characteristics have been argued to be individual contributors to crime but when the youth experience these traits in combination, the possibility that the youth would exhibit delinquent behavior, according to Seigel and Welsh, becomes multiplied. Age in Relation to Delinquent Behavior Many experts have made the case that age and criminal behavior are inversely related (Lafree & Arum, 2006; Levitt, 2004; O’Brien, Stockard, & Issacson, 1999; Seigel & Welsh, 2005). Seigel and Welsh explained that juvenile arrests have historically been disproportionate to the juvenile portion of the general population. Specifically, Seigel and Welsh pointed out that while adolescents between the ages of fourteen and twenty represent just 7 % of the population, this same age group represents 21 % of all arrests. In contrast, adults over the age of fifty make up only 6 percent of arrests while representing 30 % of the population. Agnew (1999) explained that the correlation between age and crime is constant in that as people age and mature there is less motivation to act in a delinquent manner. This theory was also supported by researchers such as Phillips (1997) 29

and Thomas (1993), who found that other variables such as race and gender had little effect on age as a factor in relationship to crime. Thomas even professed that the most hardened juvenile offender indulges in fewer crimes as age sets in. Hirschi and Gottfredson (1983) believed that the task of crime in and of itself proved to be the main factor stimulating the reduction as the youthful offender aged. They explained that the rewards were generally too miniscule and the punishments often too harsh to continue with the risk of committing crimes and possibly being discovered. Other criminologists including Brezina (2000), Cohen and Land (1987), Greenburg (1985), as well as Sampson and Laud (1993) described various additional reasons that children rely less on crime as they enter adulthood. These reasons included (1) increased levels of responsibility, (2) refined problem-solving skills, (3) balanced understanding of risk versus reward, and (4) developed maturity. Cohen and Land rationalized that as youthful offender’s age they take on greater responsibilities. The responsibilities of adulthood, such as parenting, marriage and the reality of everyday expenses, redirect the attention and focus of the now young adults and the enticement of criminal behavior becomes greatly subdued. Brezina indicated that children lack adequate problem-solving skills in early life, but as the children mature intellectually and emotionally, the ability to avoid knee-jerk reactions and seek long term solutions develops as well. Sampson and Laub discovered that a great majority of the youth offenders reach a turning point where the position of risk versus reward becomes evident. When the juvenile delinquent reaches this turning point, Sampson and Laub argued, then personal problems begin to be solved in less destructive ways. Sampson and Laub contend that the criminal offender may recognize that the risk becomes greater because the offender will no longer be processed under the juvenile justice system. Greenberg 30

reasoned that the children no longer commit criminal acts simply because they have matured. The rationale, Greenberg proposed, was that the youth exhibit more selfdiscipline and self-control as they mature and become more capable to resist delinquent behavior. An opposing point of view posited by researchers such as McNulty and Bellair (2003) have expressed a belief that other factors such as peer relationships and other environmental influences have been shown to extend the time youth exhibit criminal behavior. In particular McNulty and Bellair argued that the earlier the involvement in delinquent behavior begins the more likely the youth will exhibit criminal conduct into adulthood. In other words, McNulty and Bellair deviated from the findings of the previously identified researchers by contending that age and crime are not constant. Race as a Factor of Delinquency According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (2006) the number of Caucasian youth outnumbered African-American youth nearly five to one yet, according to Seigel and Welsh (2005), African-American adolescents were disproportionately arrested for serious crimes and served much harsher punishments than white children. White children, on the other hand, were shown to be disproportionately arrested for petty offenses. Many researchers including Gold (1966), Short and Nye (1958), and more recently, Webb, Katz, and Decker (2006), agreed that there appeared to be a large discrepancy between the self-reported criminal activity of youth and the amount of arrests officially reported by law enforcement agencies. These researchers claimed that there was virtually no difference in self-reported minority or self-reported white criminal activity; however minority youths continued to account for a much greater portion of arrests. These discrepancies have led other criminologists and social scientists toward a belief that 31

2000).African-American youth are in fact disproportionately and unfairly arrested (Bachman. researchers have claimed that this phenomenon indicates that there is a discriminating bias in law enforcement (Kim. 1981). & Rosenfeld. Specifically. Fendrich. 2001. and Weis. Tracy (1987) argued that the disproportionately high arrest rates of minority youths are a direct result of the disproportionately high offense rates. Johnston. Cohen. 2003). This belief that racial biases form the foundation of minority arrest discrepancies has been a point of contention among criminologists. 2003). Hirschi. The counterargument to police bias has been the understanding that minority children have historically under-reported involvement in delinquent or criminal activity (Warner & Coomer. promoting the theory that minority arrests are a result of racially-based biases discounts the involvement of the minority youths in committing criminal offenses. Due to this custom of minority under-reporting many researchers have claimed that the use of self-reports as an indicator of racial discrimination is invalid (Blumstein. This is supported by Huizinga and Elliot (1987) who wrote that although there has been a significant amount of evidence to support a 32 . Hirschi. & Wislar. others have claimed that bias has only been miniscule in influence. Seigel and Welsh (2005) explained that racial discrimination may be present throughout the criminal justice system in that African-American children are more likely to be detained and searched due to the communities they are raised in. & Weis. Hindelang. & O’Malley. These children are subsequently introduced to the juvenile court system at earlier ages which creates a catalyst for more severe punishment with every successive arrest (Seigel & Welsh). According to Hindelang. Although previously identified researchers have indicated that racial discrimination has been prevalent throughout the justice system.

and O’Malley (2003) explained that the racial differences associated with crime have been more closely related to economic and social circumstances. According to Sealock and Simpson (1998) this failure to visualize economic promise and growth within the inner-city neighborhoods often led minority children to seek economic opportunity in criminal actions. Bachman. In support of Blalock. Blalock recognized that the majority of African-American children arrested for juvenile offenses were from singleparent and low income families.belief of some racial bias in the criminal justice system. African-American communities have long suffered from economic depression even as the remainder of the nation realized positive economic growth. a larger amount of evidence supports the theory that official arrest rates are true. The resulting weakened state of the family has been shown to provide very little of the structure necessary to establish the appropriate controls and supervision needed to guide the adolescent children away from delinquent behavior (Walker. and Bridges (2002) tendered the opinion that given the same economic conditions. 1992). The disproportionate amount of African-Americans and other minority families bound to the poorer regions of the nation such as urban centers and inner-cities has placed an increased burden on the minority family constitution. 1967). & DeLone. Researchers who have supported the premise that official crime rates are accurate have not distinguished race as a direct cause. Conversely. Some researchers explained that the cause of increased juvenile criminal activity within inner-cities was less a factor of race but was more a question of family income and structure (Blalock. Steen. Spohn. Blalock explained that the minority children from families with moderate incomes and stable families were much less likely to participate in delinquent behavior. criminologists such as Engen. 33 . Johnston.

Vazsonyi. and family stability. during that same time period female delinquency rates increased nearly 6 %. Illegal acts such as shoplifting. Seigel and Welsh also distinguished the differences between the two genders in relation to violent crime. However the gender gap has reduced slightly over the last generation. and alcohol offenses were becoming more common for the female delinquent and were no longer found to be dominant to the male gender (Bem). Other researchers have agreed that there appears to have been a steady increase in female teenage delinquency over the last 40 years. Bem (1993) attributed the rise in female delinquency rates to the reality that females were much more likely to participate in petty crimes usually associated with their male counterparts. According to Seigel and 34 . Rowe. overall crime rates for both genders have declined from the peak in 1997. Gender differences have not been singly focused on the amount of crimes committed. arrest rates have also shown a disparity by gender. females now account for one-quarter of all juvenile crimes. male violent crime rates were reduced by 33 % as female violent crime remained stagnant. Seigel and Welsh continued to explain that in the decade between the years 1993 and 2002 male delinquency was reduced by 16 %. Seigel and Welsh were careful to clarify that even though female crime rates are higher than in 1993.educational opportunities. smoking marijuana. Again between the years 1993 and 2002. The Gender Influence on Delinquency Seigel and Welsh (2005) reported that males have historically been more delinquent than females being arrested nearly four times as often during their adolescent years. minority children would be no more likely to commit criminal acts than the average white child. and Flannery (1995) explained that even though females made up just 13 % of index crimes in 1967.

the teenage male violent crime rate decreased by 39 % while the female rate declined by just 13 %. researchers have argued that gender alone should not be considered an aspect leading to delinquency. Maughan. & Hough. was that male juveniles commit criminal acts in an effort to demonstrate their manhood while females become delinquent as a result of hostility towards their parents and family (Messer. Researchers such as Dixon. Farrington (1992) supported this point of view by declaring that adolescent girls who may grow up in broken homes that lack appropriate supervision will be more prone to committing delinquent acts. and Starling (2005). and Quinton (2004) all agreed that unlike boys. Maughan. as supported by various researchers. race and gender. Lansing.Welsh (2005). age. 2002). Similar to the other juvenile crime correlates such as age and race. who generally become delinquent to show their toughness or to seek excitement. have been presented with a consideration of social economic influences such as poverty. Mason and Windle added that strong family relationships also reduce the child’s desire to seek companionship with other delinquent children. Mason and Windle explained that devoted supervision reduces opportunity for the children to engage in criminal activity. The general conclusion concerning gender and delinquency. Herrera and McCloskey (2003). According to Mason and Windle (2002) the intact family has been known to provide a greater degree of supervision over female children where the parents more quickly recognize and are less tolerant of deviant behavior among the girls. Garland. 35 . & Quinton). girls become delinquent as a result of their dysfunctional home life. in the decade proceeding 2002. Social Status and Delinquency Each of the three other correlates listed above. and Messer. Howie. These researchers have indicated that social and economic influences should also be considered (McCabe.

& Stolzenberg. and family dysfunction. The claim has been that the disparity in crime and arrests was not a result of socioeconomics but rather the biased treatment of children from families in lower-income brackets by all levels of the criminal justice system (Eitle. on the other hand. Walker.and upper-economic classes were primarily responsible for petty 36 . Seigel and Welsh (2005) proclaimed that juvenile crime is not isolated nor is it committed in a vacuum. Steen. A few researchers have argued that there is no direct relationship between deviant or delinquent behavior and the social status of youth. Households with just one parent residing have been shown to lack the appropriate supervision necessary to provide proper guidance in raising the children. 2002). assaults. Because of the supposition that all economic classes have been affected by juvenile crime Seigel and Welsh argued that the problem of delinquency is less financial than it is structural. and Delone (1992) deviated from this point of view explaining that self-reported crime rates demonstrated an overall equality of crime throughout economic classes but the children of middle. only extremely poor children are arrested and processed in the juvenile justice system. and drug use. Spohn. 2002). According to DeJong and Jackson delinquent behavior thrives when there is family disruption. Wilbanks (1987) boldly agreed by writing that even though wealthy and poor children have been similarly involved in thefts. explaining that self-reporting of crime has revealed that juvenile crime is common to all economic classes (Engen. D’Alessio. Leiber and Fox (2005). & Bridges. explained that children of low-income households often commit criminal acts in an effort to gain monetarily and to equalize themselves with the children of more affluent families. DeJong and Jackson (1998) asserted that the youth from economically challenged families are usually raised in single-parent homes.unemployment. all social classes have been touched by delinquency.

1998). Amato (2001) agreed with the conclusions presented by Hetherington and Kelly (2002) but added that adolescent boys were more likely to suffer these harmful consequences than were girls. 37 . These problems have been identified as adjustment disorders affecting the youths’ ability to respect authority figures and adults. This research as conducted by Hetherington (1999) and Amato (2000) revealed that children of divorced parents are at an increased risk for adjustment disorders. & Ennett. Hetherington explained that children who suffer the divorce of their parents during the adolescent years were drastically more likely to develop academic.crimes and status offenses such as curfew and tobacco violations. Hetherington and Kelly (2002) stated that as much as one-quarter of all children raised in homes with divorced parents may suffer from serious social and psychological problems. was more than twice as high for the children raised in single-parent or disrupted families. and behavioral problems than comparable children who were raised in completely intact families with continuously married parents. and an increase in antisocial and conduct behaviors (Hetherington & Kelly). stating that very few studies demonstrated a significant difference related to gender and divorce. social. and Delone explained that the youth from lower-income families and poverty stricken neighborhoods were more likely to commit more serious criminal offenses such as robbery or murder. however. Spohn. Conclusion A great amount of research has been conducted in an attempt to discover the affect divorce and single-parenting has on children in their adolescent years. The risk. that children who become involved in the most serious of criminal behavior are most likely to be members of a lower socioeconomic class (Paschall. Sun (2001) disagreed with Amato. All research has shown. Walker. however. Hetherington estimated. Flewelling.

gender. Sun and Li (2001) further explained that along with the reduction in financial resources available to children following the divorce. Pong and Ju elaborated further by explaining that poor economic situations and poverty leads to increased school drop out rates. which correspond with Kelly and Emery’s 38 . The hypotheses provided by Amato. and the six hypotheses of adolescent maladjustment following divorce makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact effect divorce has on children when split by gender. The enlarged risk to children of divorce not only includes the retarded development of social and psychological skills as previously presented but also the increased possibility that these children will not complete their high school education.Vandewater and Lansford (1998) found that the compounded interaction between the four correlates of crime previously identified as age. The global conclusion of the provided research explains that children from disrupted families may generally suffer from more psychological and behavioral problems than the children from traditional families. The specific factor most likely to lead to the antisocial and delinquent behaviors has not yet been isolated. Pong and Ju (2000) discovered that the children from disrupted families are three times more likely to quit school early than children from traditional families. however the marital dissolution of the child’s parents may reduce economic resources further. race. Kelly and Emery (2003) and Amato (1993) independently identified several theories or hypotheses in an attempt to narrow the cause of this adolescent maladjustment in children of divorced families. parents also reduce involvement in the children’s lives failing to provide the much needed social and human interaction that guides these children through adolescence. or social status. exasperating and increasing the likelihood that the child will not complete his or her education.

(3) the interparental conflict perspective. as recognized by Hetherington (1999). (4) the economic hardship perspective. are: (1) the parental loss perspective.theories. The recognition that children raised in single-parent homes due to divorce are more likely to develop antisocial as well as delinquent behaviors. support the findings of other criminologists and social scientists that divorce and delinquency are connected. and (5) the life stress perspective. (2) the parental adjustment perspective. along with Agnew’s (1999) calculation that age and crime are constant in conjunction with the possibility of a growing generation of adolescents. 39 .

marital disruption has placed an enormous strain on the children of the separated parents (Amato & Cheadle. 2008. Over the last 30 years numerous studies have been revealed that children who have suffered from a family break-up have an increased possibility of suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders (Amato. the increase in anti-social activities has been significant enough to warrant research (Amato & Cheadle). As indicated earlier in this study.CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY Introduction According to recent research. The purpose of this study was to determine which of the above listed factors was more likely to lead to the development of delinquent behavior 40 . a greater percentage of children of divorced parents are more likely to develop destructive behaviors than children from traditional and complete families. and (f) Remarriage and Repartnering. The effects of divorce have been shown to have far reaching effects including an increase in juvenile delinquency. 2000). (c) Diminished Parenting after Divorce or Incompetent Parenting. (e) Economic Opportunities. 2003). (d) Loss of Important Relationships. Amato (1993) as well as Kelly and Emery (2003) have attempted to explain the cause of this condition by identifying six factors influencing the divorcedaffected child. Even though not all children who experience the disruption of the parent’s marriage suffer these effects and develop delinquent behaviors. (b) Parental Conflict. These six factors were recognized to be: (a) Stress of the Initial Separation. Kelly & Emery.

analytical processes. 1980). Finally. Research Design The researcher of this paper investigated the demographic make-up of youth who have been raised in a single-parent household. as the result of divorce. and the incompetent parenting theory. The previous chapters explained and identified the problem of divorce in relation to a child’s well-being. and adolescent 41 . a thorough description of the data collection methods. property damage crimes. This chapter will describe the research methods used along with the method of acquiring the sample population. has been more likely to lead to the development of delinquent behavior among these youth. The purpose of this chapter was to provide the roadmap or specific description of the methodology utilized in the current study in addition to describing how the research question was explored. the interparental conflict theory. individual stressors. however none have attempted to determine which of the six stressors. Kelly and Emery. up to the age of 17. a comprehensive explanation of the research methodology has been provided so that the study might be replicated by additional researchers. the economic hardship theory.among children. Wallerstein and Kelly. the life stress theory. the parental adjustment theory. Previous researchers have examined the connection between divorce and youthful misbehaviors (Amato. The author of this study was singularly focused on discovering the relationship between divorce. Furthermore. 1993. and research limitations has been presented in this chapter for review. and the sale of illegal drugs. identified by Amato and similarly recognized by Kelly and Emery as the parental absence theory. and have demonstrated adolescent delinquent behaviors and criminal activities such as thefts. who suffered from the disruption in the marriage of the children’s parents. 2003.

The use of a comprehensive. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). evaluating the development of childhood behaviors within divorced families in comparison to childhood development in traditional. More succinctly the author sought to determine which of the above listed stressors. Antecol & Bedard. Amato. The use of data obtained from a longitudinal survey as a primary research tool has been a long and widely accepted practice among researchers (Amato & Booth. Hawkins. Amato & Booth. was most likely to lead to the development of delinquent behavior among adolescents. 1994.S. Amato. As indicated earlier. 2007. which was distributed and administered by the U. 2008. 2007. Loomis. Amato & Cheadle. The researcher’s choice of data assessment concentrated on a correlational survey method through the use of comparative frequencies. caused by marital dissolution. fully-intact families. Cheung. a quantitative research model utilizing the information previously obtained by the U. nationwide longitudinal survey was primarily due to the author’s desire to have a nationally representative sample. 1995. Although the researcher recognized that information collected from the NLSY97 appeared to be qualitative in nature because of the strong dependence upon surveys as well as the interpretation of the data revealed. and consisted of a series of surveys distributed nationwide for ten years that began in 1997 and continued annually until 2007. Mennemeyer & Sen. 42 . & Powell. 2006).S.delinquent behavior. 1996. & King. the author also recognized that the use of a large nationally representative sample would best produce a conclusion based upon objective statistical data. This has been proven true for the use of the NLSY97. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the NLSY97was used. & Booth. 2006. Hamilton.

illegal alcohol and drug use. These interviews questioned participants on a number of topics affecting American youth including: employment. dating. and health. sexual behavior. welfare. The administrators of the survey were able to achieve this nationally representative sample through the examination of 75. and other criminal activity. household environment. 2009) as the primary research tool in collecting the data necessary for this research. Bureau of Labor Statistics. along with family make-up.291 independent households within 147 primary sampling units. the interviewers were capable of surveying the youth participants about more sensitive topics concerning illegal cigarette use. education. audio computer-assisted self-interview technology. training.The author of this paper chose to utilize the NLSY97 (U.984 respondents. The utilization of the audio computer-assisted selfinterview technology was necessary to increase the probability that the respondents would be more truthful in their responses. income. sexual activity. The surveys consisted of a variety of questions which were asked through the use of computer-assisted interviews. family structure. assets.S. The NLSY97 proved beneficial to this study in that it consisted of ten rounds of annual surveys that documented childhood development as the child made evolutionary progressions in areas such as the movement from school to employment as well as from adolescence to adulthood. Population The original NLSY97 sample included 8. military participation. The latter information concerning illegal activity. such as a major city. As explained earlier in this paper a primary sampling unit was defined as being a metropolitan area. discipline. income. or a single county in the more rural areas of the 43 . Additionally. childcare. through the use of private. childcare and discipline was drawn from the NLSY97 in order to assist the researcher in developing a workable data set.

step-parent. The ancillary sample was a supplemental and smaller sample developed in order to represent the African-American and Hispanic populations born between the same years of 1980 and 1984. Various NLSY97 interviewers visited over 75. As the interviewers narrowed down the sample population to just 8. The interviewer was given the authority to accept either a biological parent or a stepparent as long as the selected parent resided in the same household. then one of the selected youth’s parents was also asked to participate. The NLSY97 survey administrators believed that this process would provide a more accurate. The children had to be between the ages of 12 and 16 prior to December 31.984 respondents. These principal 8. along with all of the previously 44 .984 respondents. The NLSY97 had more than ten years of data for the current researcher to utilize. The first was a cross-sectional sample that was intended to represent the entire child population.000 participants into two separate samples. which included one parent. The survey administrators then separated the nearly 9. Participants of this study were required to fall within strict parameters that were narrowly defined by the survey administrators. 1996 and had to reside within a single household.819 individual households from the original 75. that was born between the years 1980 and 1984. or guardian from each household. complete. The NLSY97 provided the researcher of this study with an extremely large and current sample size. If the interviewer selected one of the household children. were then surveyed annually for ten years.000 households in an effort to identify eligible children that fell within the parameters of the survey group. and true representation of the entire national population. the number of households was also tempered to just 6. The NLSY97 data. within the United States.291 visited.nation.

a parent. the household income update. the youth questionnaire not only asks the participant questions on school and employment but also asks questions concerning finances. These segments included: the youth questionnaire. relationship with non-resident parents. residential history. parent’s current status. According to the U. Household Income Update Within the NLSY97. and the parent questionnaire. this resident adult participant was provided with a self-administered survey in an effort to 45 . The author of this paper additionally relied on individual subsections of these questionnaires which were titled: income. The author collected and sorted through all of this data in an effort to develop accurate conclusions concerning what aspect of divorce most likely leads to delinquent behavior among adolescents. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). family make-up. as well as health and behaviors. The author relied upon numerous segments of the NLSY97 in order to pull data necessary for this study. provided the author and researcher of this study with ample information to develop accurate and complete deductions. step-parent or guardian of a youth participant also participated in the survey. During the first five years or first five rounds of the NLSY97. The youth were asked similar questions encompassing the above listed areas of study over the lifetime of the longitudinal study. Youth Questionnaire The primary focus of the youth questionnaire was on both participation in school and the workforce. assets and program participation. and nonresident roster questionnaire.available research and studies. household roster. Data Collection The author of this study sought to explain the process of data collection in relation to the NLSY97 in this section of the paper. the screener.S. and behaviors.

S. Income.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009) the income and asset survey questioned respondents on their personal financial situation including access to funds through not only salaries and wages but also though any allowances provided by parents. or guardian was asked to complete a parent questionnaire (U. 46 . Bureau of Labor Statistics. and Program Participation According to the U. S. 2009). Bureau of Labor Statistics. a resident parent. and Nonresident Roster Questionnaire The initial household interviewers prepared two household rosters during the first round or first year of interviews. or guardian who signed the youth participant’s consent form was asked to complete the household income update (U. similar to the youth questionnaire asked for an exhaustive description of the respondent’s current circumstances including finances. as well as other personal information. Assets. The second roster. marital status. 2009). step-parent. Parent Questionnaire During the initial interview. In addition to wages the NLSY97 had questions concerning the value of independent assets a respondent may have including vehicles. the nonresident roster. The parent.S. The first roster included information concerning each household member currently residing with the youth participant. Screener. This roster was completed during the first round however updates were conducted when necessary. Household Roster. employment. 2009). step-parent. round 1. homes. Bureau of Labor Statistics. or investments such as certificates of deposit (CDs). This questionnaire. collected data on each member of the youth participant’s immediate family that did not live in the same residence as the respondent (U.collect household income information.

Residential History In the NLSY97 (U. smoking. The author extracted the necessary information to input within the Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) to identify possible correlations or comparable frequencies that would lead to accurate deductions. Behaviors This section of the NLSY97 was an essential data producing segment for the researcher of this paper.S.Parent’s Current Status This questionnaire concerned updates to the household roster specifically addressing the status of the parent. 47 .S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the U. during rounds or years 2 through 5. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). Questions asked centered on issues such as opinions or attitudes on drinking alcohol. and delinquency. stepparent.S. the respondents were surveyed concerning transitions in custodial circumstances. According to the U. Youth and adult participants were questioned about changes in the location of residences as well as changes in guardianship or legal custody of the child respondent. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009). or guardian’s current status. 2009) rounds 2 through 7. sexual activity. The author of this paper relied upon the above listed data collected through the use of the NLSY97 in order to provide the primary figures necessary to complete this study. the respondents were questioned about health-related and social behaviors including participation in delinquent or criminal activity. both the youth and adult respondents were surveyed concerning household information such as parent’s earnings and income status.

2009) that identified delinquent youth respondents.Analytical Methods The researcher’s choice of data collection focused on the correlational survey method. The collected data was withdrawn from the NLSY97 survey results and extracted to the Statistical Analysis Software provided by SAS. These correlations were illustrated through the use of comparison frequency tables. 48 . 2. and bar graphs. Inc. Information was extracted from the NLSY97 (U. This data was examined and tables were run illustrating the descriptive statistics and frequencies of each variable. charts. The researcher examined each of the individual comparison frequency tables as well as the findings bar graph in order to determine a conclusion as to which of the divorce perspectives increased delinquency among adolescents. The researcher further analyzed this data by use of comparison frequency tables in order to determine which of the six stressors was most closely related to an increase in juvenile delinquency. Bureau of Labor Statistics. through the use of comparative frequencies.S. the system utilized by the researcher in order to explore and coordinate existing figures into an effective supposition included the following five actions: 1. These variables were identified earlier as the six stressors or factors of divorce. Previous studies were reviewed in order to confirm conclusions that showed adolescent youth from divorced families were statistically more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior than youth raised under the traditional intact family structure. that relied upon a quantitative research model in order to fully analyze the data obtained from the NLSY97. As explained earlier in this paper.

the researcher could potentially identify what aspect or aspects of divorce most likely leads to the development of externalized delinquent behavior. parental monitoring. Delinquent youths were identified as belonging to a family of divorce or a traditional family. 4.3. however the results of the study remain constructive. etc. The limitations listed here were a result of restrictions in time. resources. parental support. and availability of data. Subsequently. discipline. an immense amount of knowledge and understanding can still be siphoned and the great majority of research is determined to be valid. The first limitation concerned the available data sets. is considered secondary source information due to the fact that the author did not develop or administer any of the surveys directly. Even though research has limitations. Through the data extracted from the NLSY97. This series of surveys. The most common factors among juvenile delinquents and their environmental upbringing were identified. The data collection was 49 . The following limitations were considered by the author in an effort to provide transparency to this study. 5. Limitations In every study the researcher is faced with limitations that restrict or interfere with the full intention or capabilities of data analysis. trends were identified in the delinquent youth’s economic and demographic environment which included finances. By adhering to this five-phase investigative system. the researcher was able to discover whether there was or was not a connection between the adolescent youth’s environment and increased delinquency. although validated and verified. The author’s principal source of data was from the NLSY97 ten year study.

The act of administering the interviews and surveys proved to be a limitation for the researcher as well.S.S. Kelly and Emery (2003). A second limitation proved to be the testing instruments. as well as Price and Kunz (2003). Because of this the researcher was unable to monitor the actual interview procedure or the survey process. The repetitiveness of these surveys has demonstrated that the longitudinal studies offer a significant degree of reliability and credibility in the academic environment. complete confidence in the validity of the surveys and interviews can not be achieved. the validation period. The researcher had no control over this testing instrument in the development phase. Bureau of Labor Statistics.S. the administration to the study participants. The NLSY97 was the second longitudinal study completed by the U. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a series of surveys and interviews for more than ten years. In order to test the six previously identified perspectives of divorce. Bureau of Labor Statistics dispensed these surveys over a ten year period prior to the researcher initiating this study. This created a challenge because the researcher had no firsthand knowledge that the surveys were administered properly nor is there any direct knowledge that the data was authentic. The first longitudinal study was the NLSY79. Bureau of Labor Statistics without any involvement of this study’s researcher. or the collection and interpreting of the data. The NLSY97 50 . Due to the lack of direct participation by the researcher. The survey variables included in the NLSY97 also proved to provide a limitation for this study. The personnel from the U. the researcher had to identify and match variables from the study to the aspects identified by Amato (1993). Personnel from the U.also handled through the U.S. The author had to rely on the data presented through the NLSY97 with the expectation that the process was dependable and consistent.

however. These barriers. Every researcher has faced challenges when conducting a study. does not take away from the validity of this study because the NLSY97 was developed by the U.S. The author has identified the limitations in order to provide some transparency to the research. however difficult. Bureau of Labor Statistics and has a long established record in academia. however the researcher was able to locate data that substantiated the six aspects of divorce. provide opportunity for the researcher to clarify the purpose and results of the study.survey variables did not present exact replications of necessary data. This prevented the author from participating in the filtering of information or the interpreting of essential data at the time the surveys were conducted and the information was gathered. As indicated earlier the surveys were administered and the data was collected prior to the author initiating this research. The final limitation identified by the author was the reduced capability of interpreting the survey results. This paper is not the exception. This limitation. 51 .

2009) and filtered through the perspectives of past studies in an effort to discover the leading cause of delinquency among youth raised in nontraditional households. 1992). cannot be considered the sole or principal cause of increased delinquent behavior among youth. Price and Kunz did identify specific characteristics of divorce that appeared to demonstrate commonality between divorce and delinquency. however.S. Census Bureau. The findings and results of this research were derived from data received from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Ultimately. Bureau of Labor Statistics. NLSY97 (U. half of all the divorced households include children of adolescent age indicating that nearly 40% of all children experience the effects of a broken home. Price and Kunz (2003) explained that divorce. in and of itself. 2009).S. Price and Kunz identified 52 .CHAPTER IV FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS Introduction Divorce has become a common occurrence in the modern American family life. more than 21 million adolescents will be raised in single-parent homes during the most crucial and formative years of their lives (U. According to Price and Kunz (2003). increasing from less than 5% a century ago to a current divorce rate of nearly 50% of all first-time marriages (Cherlin. The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the most damaging effects of the nontraditional family lifestyle on adolescent upbringing as well as discovering what aspect of divorce most likely leads to delinquency among children.

(b) the Parental Conflict Theory. the researcher of this study included Kelly and Emery’s (2003) Remarriage and Repartnering Theory. even though there were slight differences in the above listed aspects of divorce presented by the researchers. This was done so that all of the identified aspects of divorce were considered in the determination of which aspect had the greatest influence on the development of adolescent youth. (d) the Loss of Important Relationships Theory. (d) the Economic Hardship Perspective. (b) the Parental Adjustment Perspective. listed as: (a) the Parental Loss Perspective. and (e) parental discipline. (c) the Diminished Parenting after Divorce or Incompetent Parenting Theory. and (e) the Life Stress Perspective. The NLSY97 was a ten year study that annually surveyed a sample of 8. (e) the Economic Opportunities Theory. Kelly and Emery presented six theories on independent stressors that significantly led to an increase of delinquent behavior among the adolescent youth from non-intact families. (c) family stability. As 53 .984 respondents from 6. These 8. (d) parental ability to monitor the child. (b) parental relationship with the child. These five factors overlap with theories or hypotheses presented by other researchers such as Amato (1993) as well as Kelly and Emery (2003). In addition to the above five listed perspectives.819 households were identified within 147 primary sampling units. These six theories were described as: (a) the Stress of the Initial Separation Theory. the focus of the study and research was built upon Amato’s (1993) five perspectives.984 respondents and 6. and (f) the Remarriage and Repartnering Theory. In this chapter. (c) the Interparental Conflict Perspective. 1997 (NLSY97). The primary research tool utilized for this study was the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.819 households nationwide.the following as factors to be considered when researching the effect of divorce on adolescents: (a) levels of pre-divorce hostility.

559 respondents continued to participate in the study. Respondents selected from these sampling units had to meet a specific set of criteria prior to being considered for the survey. Table 1 Sample Size: Cross-Sectional or Oversample Sample type: Is the respondent a member of the cross-sectional sample or the oversample? 6748 2236 ------8984 1 Cross-sectional 0 Oversample Refusal (-1) Don't Know (-2) 0 0 0 NON-INTERVIEW (-5) TOTAL =========> 8984 VALID SKIP (-4) 54 . In 2007. The NLSY97’s original sample was subdivided into two subgroups or subsamples as illustrated by Table 1. In addition each youth respondent had to have an adult household member included as a participant in the survey. after ten rounds of surveys. The researcher selected the NLSY97 as the main instrument of data collection for this study so that the results would be nationally. more than 84 % of the original sample or 7. if not universally. The youngest of respondents were just 12 years of age which denotes that all respondents were between the ages of 22 and 29 in 2007 after completing the tenth round of surveys. a primary sampling unit was defined as being a major metropolitan city or a single county from the more rural communities. representative.explained earlier in this study. Respondents must have been born between the years 1980 and 1984 and could not be more than 18 years of age prior to the first round of interviews in 1997.

1.596 (21.9%) were non-black and non-Hispanic. were male and 49%.599 of the original 8. The breakdown of the sample from each of the ten rounds of the NLSY97 by subgroup. The second subgroup.2%) were Hispanic or Latino. and 71 (0. or 4.The first subgroup was a cross-sectional sample of 6. 2. At the completion of the survey’s tenth round 3.9%) were of mixed race or origin.9%) where of mixed origin or race. or 4.665 respondents.335 (26%). the gender and ethnic breakdown of the survey sample fluctuated very little after ten years and ten rounds of surveys.855 respondents (50. or 51. 2.3%) of the remaining 7.7%) were female. or supplemental sample. A complete breakdown of the survey sample found nearly an even split by gender where 51%.559 respondents were male and 3. and gender is illustrated on the next page in Table 2.803 (50.9%) were black. When the sample was split by race or ethnicity it was discovered that 3. Even though there was a 1. consisted of 2.385 respondents were female.984 respondents.236 respondents that were selected to provide an oversample of black and Latino persons living in the United States at the beginning of the survey. were non-black and non-Hispanic. race/ethnicity. A dissection of the original sample by race and ethnicity showed that 4. Although biographical data such as the information listed in Table 2 had very little impact on the findings in this study. As 55 .307 (26.756 (49. and 83 (0. 1. were black.748 respondents that was originated in order to be a closer representation of people living in the United States at the time of the first round of the survey in 1997.425 respondent drop-off.9%.1%) were Hispanic or Latino.901 (21. the researcher recognized that it was important to validate that the NLSY97 sample was truly representative of the whole population.

Hispanic Mixed Supp. Black. or Latino race total non-Hisp. Non-black. Race/Ethnicity & Gender Cross-sectional Sample Supplemental Sample Total Cross-sect. or Latino race Round 1 Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total Male Total 4599 8984 4283 8386 4169 8208 4116 8080 3988 7882 3997 7896 3928 7754 3732 7502 3666 7338 3803 7559 3459 3289 6748 3213 3066 6279 3143 3029 6172 3097 2957 6054 3011 2907 5918 2995 2903 5898 2951 2831 5782 2816 2784 5600 2734 2703 5437 2850 2774 5624 2413 2252 4665 2238 2095 4333 2193 2076 4269 2153 2027 4180 2110 1991 4101 2083 1973 4056 2060 1916 3976 1966 1866 3832 1910 1820 3730 1988 1867 3855 537 544 1081 504 517 1021 490 503 993 485 489 974 455 478 933 466 486 952 460 482 942 433 491 924 424 473 897 445 490 935 469 452 921 433 417 850 421 412 8330 Round 4 422 402 824 Round 5 410 401 811 Round 6 410 408 818 Round 7 395 396 791 Round 8 383 390 773 Round 9 367 376 743 385 380 765 33 34 67 32 37 69 932 969 1901 953 982 1935 523 561 1084 535 567 1102 409 406 815 418 413 831 -2 2 -2 2 Female 3672 34 37 71 916 986 1902 506 563 1069 410 421 831 -2 2 Female 3770 36 37 73 977 995 1972 555 564 1119 422 429 851 -2 2 Female 3826 36 36 72 1002 996 1998 567 568 1135 435 426 861 -2 2 Female 3899 36 37 73 977 987 1964 541 558 1099 436 427 863 -2 2 Female 3894 37 39 76 1019 1007 2026 580 570 1150 439 435 874 -2 2 Female 3964 Round 3 39 38 77 1026 1010 2036 572 568 1140 454 441 895 -1 1 Female 4039 Round 2 38 37 75 1070 1037 2107 599 584 1183 471 451 922 -2 2 Female 4103 40 41 81 1140 1096 2236 632 622 1254 508 472 980 -2 2 Female 4385 Round 10 Female 3756 56 . Black. non-Hisp. Hispanic Mixed sample total non-Hisp.Table 2 NLSY97 Sample Sizes by Subsample.

The researcher then extracted data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997.demonstrated by Table 2. life stressors. This system included the following five steps: 1. The extracted data was then processed and correlated in an effort to develop a statistical and reliable conclusion. NLSY97 (U. The researcher reviewed previous studies. 2009). 57 . as introduced by Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003).S. Additional survey and respondent self-reported information was extracted from the NLSY97 by the researcher in order to create the foundation of this study. 2. articles. The researcher split the extracted data based on whether the children were from a family of divorce or a traditional family. from 1997 until 2007. 3. 4. most likely leads to delinquent behavior among the adolescent youth of divorced parents the researcher utilized a five-step process. and journals in order to verify findings that concluded adolescent children from nontraditional or non-intact households were statistically more likely to develop antisocial and delinquent mannerisms than youth raised in a traditional intact family. and youth delinquent behaviors. In order to examine or identify which of the six leading aspects of divorce. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The researcher then utilized the data obtained via the NLSY97 in order to identify trends in the delinquent youth’s economic and demographic environment filtered through the six perspectives of divorce presented by Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003). economic conditions. that specifically identified household structure. the sample remained a characteristic reflection of society for the entire ten rounds.

Because the NSLY97 allowed for multiple responding youth from the same household there is no way to determine if any of the respondents are reporting on the same divorce occurrences.8%) of the children experienced the divorce of a parent or parents within the first five years of the study. Findings The researcher began the data analysis by determining how many of the NLSY97 original youth respondents suffered from the divorce of the household’s parents. The data summarized on the following page in Table 3. Have Youth’s Parents Divorced (Each Other or Someone Else) In Last 5 Yrs. the researcher was able to identify which aspect of divorce was most closely connected with delinquency among youth who suffered the effects of divorce. Likewise there is no way to determine if each of these divorces were unique or if the children who did not report experiencing a divorce were from the same households or not.5. Through this process the researcher was able to determine whether or not there was an association between the adolescent’s upbringing and the increased possibility of delinquent behavior. conducted in 2002.861 youths showing that 617 (7. shows the response from round five of the NLSY97. Finally. In furtherance. the researcher isolated and identified the most common factors among juvenile delinquents and their environmental upbringing. The table details the responses of 7. The inability to determine whether divorces were double reported or not should have no interference with data results because the youth reporting the divorce still experience the hardships associated with the marital break-up regardless of what household they derive from. The foundation of this paper rested upon the ability of the researcher to distinguish and isolate youth of non-intact families from the children of the more traditional fully intact families. 58 .

Table 4 Does Youth Live with Both Biological Parents Does youth live with both biological parents? 4395 4589 ------8984 1 Yes 0 No Refusal (-1) Don't Know (-2) 0 0 0 NON-INTERVIEW (-5) 0 TOTAL =========> 8984 VALID SKIP (-4) 59 . have your parents divorced. either from each other or from their former spouse? UNIVERSE: All 617 7244 ------7861 1 YES 0 NO Refusal (-1) Don't Know (-2) 8 27 NON-INTERVIEW (-5) 1088 TOTAL =========> 7896 VALID SKIP (-4) 0 The information included above.Table 3 Have Youth's Parents Divorced (Each Other or Someone Else) in Last 5 Yrs In the last five years. in Table 3. The data presented in Table 4 was extracted from round one of the survey in 1997. As a result. is incomplete for the purposes of this study. the researcher also extracted information concerning household makeup.

The data in Table 4 shows that 4. The researcher then combined the results from these two tables into a comparative frequency table in order to determine which of the original survey respondents not only experienced the divorce of their parents but were also raised with just one biological parent in the home. The information included in Table 5 illustrates the isolation of respondents who not only experienced a parent’s marital dissolution but also have just one residential biological parent.46 6.33 42.52 57.54 8.5%) of the youth responded that they not only experienced a divorce but that they live with just one biological parent.81 49. Of the 7.12 355 4.861 respondents just 355 (4.29 91.984 youth responded to both of the questions.589 or 51% of the original respondent youth did not live with both biological parents.15 Total YES 617 7. Only 7.88 3998 50.00 .22 262 3.861 of the original 8.34 50.85 Total 7861 100. Divorced Household YOUTH’S PARENTS DIVORCED IN LAST 5 YRS 2002 YOUTH LIVES WTH BOTH BIO PARENTS NO NO 3643 46.86 Frequency Missing = 1123 60 YES 3601 45.14 7244 92. Table 5 Biological Parent vs.78 3863 49.71 93.

57% or 244 of the 4. Just 5. Criminal Behavior and Parental Loss The absence of contact with either parent following a divorce has been described as a leading source of developmental distress among adolescents often leading to the manifestation of delinquent behaviors. This was done in an effort to determine which of the perspectives most commonly led to the developmental distress of the sampled youth. The data summarized in Table 6 revealed that youth respondents who had just one biological parent remaining in the household following a divorce were 4. property damage.572 youth surveyed who live with just one biological parent have stolen items valuing more than $50. The data shown in Table 6 details that 447 or nearly 10% of the 4. Table 6 is presented on the following page. Although much of the data extracted from the NLSY97 has been repeated throughout the findings of this research. the information has proven to be valid and substantial in supporting a conclusion. This finding shows that children living with just one biological parent are nearly twice as likely to commit a theft as are children from a fully intact traditional family. and illicit narcotic sales. the researcher compared numerous additional variables against the information provided in Tables 3 and 4 in order to test the divorce affected perspectives provided by Amato (1993) as well as Kelly and Emery (2003).21% more likely to commit a theft than the adolescents who reported that both biological parents remained together within the home. The following three tables represent the comparative frequency of parental loss in connection to the above listed criminal endeavors. Delinquency is often demonstrated through criminal activity such as theft.During the processes of this study. 61 .384 youth who resided with both biological parents at the time the survey was administered admitted to stealing an item worth more than $50.

91 447 4.43 50. 62 .72 8956 100. The figures presented in Table 7 details the result of this comparison.99 9.95 Total 8265 92.369 (29.22 49.06 90.96%) self-reported committing a property damage crime.57 35. Similar to Table 6.69 4572 51.31 4384 48.28 Frequency Missing = 28 691 7.78 64.09 244 2.570 single-parent youth who answered the survey questions concerning property damage.05 YES 4140 46.00 Another form of delinquency is displayed through a youth’s willingness to commit a property damage crime.Table 6 Lives with Both Parents and Theft YOUTH LIVES WITH BOTH BIO PARENTS EVER STEAL ANYTHING >$50? Total NO YES NO 4125 46. Of the 4.23 94.72 5. 1. the data included in Table 7 supports the supposition that children who are raised apart from one of their parents are more likely to engage in delinquent mannerisms.

Table 7 Lives with Both Parents and Property Damage YOUTH LIVES WITH BOTH BIOLOGICAL PARENTS PURPOSELY DESTROY PROPERTY Total NO NO 3201 35. 63 .00 The next table is a culmination of the surveyed youth’s relationship with and willingness to sell narcotics.05 43.02 YES 3332 37.58%) of the 4. two-parent families.48 4570 51.20 75.78 24.06 8957 100.74 70. 392 (8.00 YES 1369 15.52 4387 48. Table 8 describes the data establishing that the adolescents from single-parent households were again nearly twice as likely to engage in illegal drug sales as children from non-divorced.95 51.04 49.00 1055 11.96 56.98 Total 6533 72.65%) of the two-parent youth.750 surveyed youth with just one biological parent at home reported participating in the sale of narcotics compared to just 204 (4.28 29.94 Frequency Missing = 27 2424 27.

categorized by the individual parenting style of the resident parent. Often the parental adjustment period affects the long-term parenting style employed within the household. Table 9 is an account of theft committed by youth of a single-parent household.01 8358 93. The inappropriate dissemination of discipline as well as the amount of supervision a parent provides for a child is also a consideration leading towards delinquent behavior.68 95. and authoritative.28 4. the parents.96 Total 8954 100. These four labels were selected as a categorization of the degree of control established by the parent over the youth.04 Total YES 4384 48.Table 8 Lives with Both Parents and Drug Sales YOUTH LIVES WITH BOTH BIOLOGICAL PARENTS YOUTH EVER SELL DRUGS? NO NO 4178 46. Uninvolved represented the smallest amount of control while 64 YES 392 4. authoritarian.65 34.99 4180 46. permissive.58 65.23 596 6. The four parenting styles were identified as uninvolved.34 Frequency Missing = 30 Delinquency and Parenting Styles Following a divorce.42 49. similar to the youth.66 91.66 4570 51.38 8.35 50. go through a period of adjustment.77 204 2.00 .

57 91.85 3814 90.54 396 9.authoritative represented the greatest amount of control.47 AUTHORITARIAN 621 14. According to the NLSY97.00 65 .13% of youth in the uninvolved category reported committing thefts over $50.90 8.68 6.44 122 2. youth who self-reported that the resident parent employed an uninvolved parenting style were considerably more likely to commit a theft than the youth of authoritative parents.66 30.34 33.74 537 12.75 AUTHORITATIVE 1671 39. Table 9 shows that 15.33 1287 30.87 11.76 86.83 15.69 Total 4210 100.76 28.76% of the adolescents with an authoritative parent admitted the same.47 14.08 1558 37.59 Yes 77 1.41 509 12.24 40.09 Total PERMISSIVE 1409 33.81 84 2. Table 9 Parenting Style and Theft Controlling for Single-Parent PARENTING STYLE YOUTH EVER STEAL ANYTHING >$50? NO UNINVOLVED 432 10.01 93.00 13.26 84.21 113 2.00 while only 6.13 19.53 21.

The next variable extracted from the NLSY97 was the youth’s inclination to commit a property crime.61 19.44 AUTHORITARIAN 619 14.74 Total 4207 100.22 72.22 27.38 509 12.83 39.42 388 9.61 2971 70.72 42.39 239 5.85 1236 29.10 Total PERMISSIVE 1407 33.28 32.88 16.62 66 YES 203 4. Similar to information provided in Table 9. Table 10 summarizes the data showing that the least controlling parenting style employed by the parent led to the greatest degree to which the youth was willing to exhibit delinquent behavior.27 60. After controlling for single-parents.09 75.03 61.12 10.30 380 9. the parenting style was separated into four categories based upon the parent’s degree of control over the youth. Table 10 Parenting Style and Property Damage Controlling for Single-Parent PARENTING STYLE PURPOSELY DESTROY PROPERTY NO UNINVOLVED 306 7.71 AUTHORITATIVE 1672 39.65 24.58 31.00 .42 34. the property damage variable was examined in relation to the parenting style of the resident parent.79 1266 30.39 12.68 38.34 406 9.30 1019 24.

The researcher examined the third delinquent behavior. drug sales. lenient parents were more than three times as likely to sell drugs as the respondent youth who claim to have authoritative or controlling parents. controlled for the single-parent divorced household. authoritarian. and authoritative.In Table 10 the summarized variables revealed that of the four identified parenting styles.75% of the youth with uninvolved single-parents selfreported their own involvement in drug sales while just 4. Similar to the youth committing thefts. through the lenses of the four previously identified parenting styles.28% of youth with authoritative parents. Youth with uninvolved parents were 15. permissive. This table is significant in that it shows that adolescents with uninvolved. uninvolved.96% of the youth in authoritative households reported selling drugs. 67 . 39. the youth with uninvolved parents who reported destroying property proved to be considerably more significant than the 24. The figures exhibited within Table 11 followed the same pattern of the two previous tables making it possible to recognize that the youth with uninvolved parents were more likely to engage in illegal narcotic sales than were children of authoritative or controlling parents. The information provided on the following page through Table 11 shows that 17.88% of the youth who reported having uninvolved parents committed some type of property damage crime. the youth who reported having parents who employed the uninvolved style most often were more likely to be delinquent. In addition Table 10 showed that the adolescents raised under each of the four parenting styles were more likely to commit a property damage crime than a theft or drug sale.6% more likely to commit property damage than the youth with a single-parent employing the more controlling authoritative style.

22 89. High conflict environments.82 1293 30.05 Total PERMISSIVE 1408 33.54 556 13. Household conflict 68 .83 33.75 25.58 352 8.Table 11 Parenting Style and Drug Sales Controlling for Single-Parent PARENTING STYLE YOUTH EVER SELL DRUGS? NO UNINVOLVED 417 9.57 115 2. have been shown to add to adolescent maladjustment leading to increased delinquent behaviors.73 8.74 Total 4207 100.68 14.18 83 1.73 91.77 95.22 3855 91.97 4.74 AUTHORITATIVE 1672 39.47 AUTHORITARIAN 620 14.and post-divorce.67 64 1.14 17.25 10. both pre.32 18.00 High Conflict Environment Amato (1993) identified interparental conflict as one of the leading causes for developmental distress among youth from households experiencing marital dissolution.96 23.91 82.37 507 12.52 10.42 1589 37.63 YES 90 2.04 41.17 32.

In similar fashion 36. 14.21 386 9. This is juxtaposed to the 9.37 Frequency Missing = 582 YES 335 8.91 13.36 9. Table 12 Conflict and Theft Controlling for Single-Parent VICTIM OF VIOLENCE IN HOME YOUTH EVER STEAL ANYTHING >$50? NO NO 3330 83.was the next variable examined in relation to the youth respondent’s tendency to commit activities such as theft. or illegal drug sales.26% of youth experiencing violence in the home reported committing property damage crimes.09 8.26 85.46 Total YES 342 8. After controlling for singleparenting.27 14. property damage.00 The findings presented in Table 12 support the results of the material produced in the previous tables illustrated throughout this paper.9% of the youth who reported experiencing violence in the home also reported stealing an item worth more than $50.14 86.86 91.96 291 7.79 51 1.10 90.04 3621 90.14% of youth who did not experience violence in the home but also admitted to committing a theft. Table 13 records the findings of crossing the variable of household conflict with the variable identifying the youth’s tendency to 69 .63 3665 91.54 Total 4007 100.

51 89.00 .10 36. After controlling for single-parenting.79 2800 69.47 70.44 63. Kelly & Emery.29 1205 30. The information incorporated in Table 14 supports the findings that included household conflict as a variable contributing to the increased likelihood of delinquent manifestations among the children of divorced parents.54 Total 4005 100.21 218 5.74 7. 1993.49 92.75% of the children who did not experience household violence. 2003). 70 YES 1081 26.46 Total YES 342 8. Table 13 Conflict and Property Damage Controlling for Single-Parent VICTIM OF VIOLENCE IN HOME PURPOSELY DESTROY PROPERTY NO NO 2582 64.91 Frequency Missing = 584 The sale of drugs by youth raised in a single-parent household following a divorce is more than twice as likely when these youth also experience violence in the household.99 29.26 10. Price & Kunz. property damage.37% of the single-parented children who also suffered from household violence participated in the sale of illegal drugs as compared to just 7.71 124 3. 2003. these variables confirmed the perspective that claims high-conflict households lead to delinquent behaviors (Amato. Table 14 presented the data revealing that 16.purposely destroy property. Criminal activity such as theft.09 3663 91.

40 16.37 16.46 Total YES 342 8.20 286 7.00 Financial Hardship and Life Stress According to previous research (Amato.14 83.09 7. 2003) the negative life stresses of economic hardship following a divorce have often resulted in a reduction of the psychological well-being of children. Kelly & Emery. As the information included in Table 15 reveals.75 83. the data extracted from the NLSY97 supports the economic hardship perspective. Table 14 Conflict and Drug Sales Controlling for Single-Parent VICTIM OF VIOLENCE IN HOME YOUTH EVER SELL DRUGS? NO NO 3380 84.51 Frequency Missing = 583 YES 284 7. Table 14 illustrates the comparison between the variable of theft and the variable indicating the employment status of the household parent over the last five years. 71 .25 92. 2003.63 7.and drug sales have been identified by the author as outward expressions of the youth’s maladjusted development.49 3664 91.54 Total 4006 100. 1993.53 56 1.80 3666 91. Price & Kunz.37 92.47 340 8. After controlling for the single-parent.

admitted to purposely damaging property. appeared to have less of an effect on the execution of property damage crimes.08 69 1.48 14. IN LAST 5 YRS YOUTH EVER STEAL ANYTHING >$50? NO NO 3088 77.72 11.28 82.89 9. Information summarized in Table 16 divulged that the children whose parents suffered a break in employment did show an increased propensity for committing this delinquent act. 72 YES 316 7.38 Frequency Missing = 586 The information provided in the above table discloses that 11. whose parents never experienced a break in employment.28% reported committing a theft. however. only 9.Table 15 Unemployment and Theft Controlling for Single-Parent PARENT UNEMPLOYED MORE THAN 6 MOS.52 17.62 3404 85.72 85.96 Total 4003 100.89% of all respondent youth.35 530 13.52% of the youth surveyed who admitted to committing a theft also reported that the residential parent was unemployed for a period lasting more than six months within the last five years. Unemployment.24 88.00 .14 90. 32. whose single residential parent spent a period of more than six months in the last 5 years unemployed.04 Total YES 599 14. Of the remaining children.65 3618 90.92 385 9.

38% more likely to commit similar acts of delinquency.Table 16 Unemployment and Property Damage Controlling for Single-Parent PARENT UNEMPLOYED MORE THAN 6 MOS. Table 16 presented data revealing that 29.03 Total YES 599 14.64 402 10.51 83.49 85. Table 17 included data showing that unemployment has had an effect on the propensity of delinquent behavior among the youth surveyed. In concurrence with the previous tables.51% of youth whose parents never experienced unemployment committed a property damage crime.51% seems to be significant.02 3402 85.05 67.92 32. YES 1004 25.97 Total 4001 100.00 73 .36 2800 69.60 197 4.98 Frequency Missing = 588 After controlling for single-parenting. IN LAST 5 YRS PURPOSELY DESTROY PROPERTY NO NO 2398 59.09 29.89 16. the youth with parents who did undergo a period of unemployment were 3.40 1201 30.11 14. Although 29.94 70. The next table illustrated the comparison frequency of youth drug sales with the variable of parental unemployment. after controlling for single-parents.

53 YES 279 6.02% of the respondent youth.71 3663 91.20 82.47 3403 85.47 89.97 Total 4002 100. whose single-parent experienced a job loss lasting longer than six months within the last five years. IN LAST 5 YRS YOUTH EVER SELL DRUGS? NO NO 3124 78.03 Total YES 599 14. The findings also revealed that children whose parents never suffered from unemployment were 1. chose to sell illegal narcotics.98 14.97 8. The findings included in Table 17 disclosed that the loss of economic resources as well as the stressors of divorce and unemployment tends to increase the likelihood of developmental distress for the adolescent.06 91.29 539 13.80 85.Table 17 Unemployment and Drug Sales Controlling for Single-Parent PARENT UNEMPLOYED MORE THAN 6 MOS. Repeated Divorce Kelley and Emery (2003) explained that the repetitive repartnering and remarriage of an adolescent youth’s parents was a primary aspect or perspective of divorce that 74 .82% less likely to sell drugs than children whose parents did endure a period of unemployment.50 10.70 339 8.30 60 1.00 The information contained within Table 17 revealed that 10.02 17.

77 90.05% more likely to steal.92 563 91. In comparison with the 8.65 Total 615 100. Table 18 contains figures revealing that the comparative frequency of thefts among youth experiencing the first time divorce of the biological parents and the secondary divorce of a parent.09 42.35 Total MY PARENTS 373 60.77 91.04 57.46 242 39. the adolescent children experiencing multiple or repetitive divorces were 1.04% of respondent youth experiencing the first-time divorce of their biological parents.31 30 4.08 343 55.00 75 .88 8.directly contributes to the development of criminally delinquent behaviors among adolescents. an item valued more than $50. and social adjustment following a parental separation or divorce. 9. Of the adolescent youth who reported a parent’s secondary divorce. These repeated relationships and multiple divorces have been found to impede an adolescent’s proper mental. on at least one occasion. Table 18 Divorce and Theft WHO GOT DIVORCED? YOUTH EVER STEAL ANYTHING >$50? NO MY PARENT AND OTHER 220 35.58 9.54 Frequency Missing = 8369 YES 22 3.91 39. emotional.69 52 8.96 60.09% revealed that they had stolen.

The crime of property damage. Table 19 Divorce and Property Damage WHO GOT DIVORCED? PURPOSELY DESTROY PROPERTY NO MY PARENT AND OTHER 163 26.29 Frequency Missing = 8369 76 YES 79 12.50 67.81 257 41.Multiple divorces have also been shown to have an effect on youth in relation to property damage crimes.51 116 18. Table 19 displays the results of comparing the propensity of adolescent youth to purposely destroy property following the initial divorce or secondary divorce of a parent.36 38.65 Total 615 100.1% of the respondent youth who reported the first divorce of their parents. According to the information provided in Table 19.64 40.64% of the youth who reported experiencing multiple divorces also reported committing a property damage crime as compared to 31.90 61.35 Total MY PARENTS 373 60.49 195 31.86 31.19 420 68. 32.85 32.10 59. as revealed in Table 19.79 68. proved to be more common among the youth of divorce than theft or drug sales.00 .71 242 39. This findings presented in this table appears to support Kelly and Emery’s (2003) perspective that remarriage and repartnering has a negative effect on adolescent youth leading to the development of anti-social mannerisms such as purposely destroying the property of another.

85 % of the youth who reported experiencing the initial divorce of their biological parents admitted to participating in the sale of illegal drugs.37 8. 8.35 Total MY PARENTS 373 60.56 39.44 35.28 564 91. Table 20 Divorce and Drug Sales WHO GOT DIVORCED? YOUTH EVER SELL DRUGS? NO MY PARENT AND OTHER 224 36.29 242 39.71 51 8.72 340 55.44% of the youth from parents with repeated divorces reported selling narcotics. In contrast to the information presented in the previous two tables.41% less often than adolescents from single divorce households.71 Frequency Missing = 8369 YES 18 2.93 7.85 64. the secondary divorces did not appear to increase the likelihood of delinquent behavior over the initial divorce.00 77 .15 60.42 92.Table 20 is a comparison frequency chart presenting the association between illegal drug sales and the initial or secondary divorce of the respondent youth’s parent. this is 1.65 Total 615 100. Although 7.29 33 5.28 91.

Many limitations to the methodology were identified and listed by the author earlier in this paper. The most significant methodological obstacle was the lack of congruent variables within the NLSY97 survey. 2009). The variables listed within the survey did not translate aptly to test the six perspectives of divorce completely.Conclusions In order to determine an appropriate conclusion based on the findings of this study. Parental Loss Lives with Both Parents Parenting Style Parental Adjustment Interparental Conflict Conflict Economic Hardship Unemployment Parental Life Stress Divorce Remarriage and Repartnering Drug Sales Delinquency Property Damage Theft Figure 1.S. Figure 1 illustrates the researcher’s application of the NLSY97’s individual variables to the six aspects of divorce identified throughout this paper. NLSY97 (U. the researcher had to rely solely upon the secondary data obtained from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. extract a sufficient amount of information to enable the development of conclusions concerning the effects of divorce on adolescent delinquency and criminal behavior. however. Application of NLSY97 Variables to Study 78 . Bureau of Labor Statistics. however as the study continued the author encountered additional obstacles to the research. The researcher did.

the differences between the five variables examined are very slight and each appears to contribute significantly to an increase in criminally delinquent behavior. 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Parental Loss Parenting Styles High Conflict Households Financial Harship and Life Stress Repeated Divorce Theft Property Damage Drug Sales Figure 2. Although parental adjustment may prove to be the principal aspect or perspective of divorce leading to the maladjustment of adolescents. Comparison Chart: Delinquency Behaviors and Divorce Aspects 79 . After viewing the chart more closely. The information illustrated in Figure 2 exposes a parent’s uninvolved approach to parenting as a primary contributor of increased delinquent behaviors among children. the information presented in Figure 2 shows that there is support for all characteristics of divorce.In an effort to determine which aspect of divorce was most likely associated with an increase in criminally delinquent behavior among adolescent children under the age of eighteen. the researcher created a comparison chart measuring each individual variable identified in the comparative frequency tables presented above. Parenting styles are correlated directly with Amato’s (1993) and Kelly and Emery’s (2003) Parental Adjustment Perspective leading to an initial conclusion that parental adjustment following a divorce was the primary aspect in manifesting delinquency. First impressions of the data displayed in Figure 2 demonstrates that the most indicative aspect of divorce leading to delinquent behavior is the parenting style of the divorced parents. however.

80 . Figure 3 shows the author’s view. The Absence of Resources grouping would include the divorce aspects identified as Financial Hardship and Loss of Biological Parent exclusively. The overwhelming presence of an entire grouping. The researcher explains that the six leading aspects of divorce should be divided into two major categories or groupings labeled Absence of Resources and Behavioral Stressors. the researcher did conclude that certain groupings of these perspectives may prove to have a major effect upon children from divorce. of how divorce effects the development of adolescent youth. based on this research and the work of other scholars such as Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003). the researcher has determined that no single perspective on the aspects of divorce can fully explain the increase of delinquency among adolescents. the absence of one complete grouping may provide an environment conducive for the healthy upbringing of children from divorced households. The final two perspectives. such as the Absence of Resources. In contrast. Repetitive Partners and Divorce along with Environmental Stress.Based on the findings of this study. as opposed to the presence of just one individual aspect of divorce could provide a better explanation for the lack of childhood well-being. By considering each of these individual perspectives as part of a greater whole the researcher believes a more practical explanation for increased delinquency could be determined. The Behavioral Stressors grouping consists of the aspects labeled as High Conflict Households and Parental Development exclusively. would be shared by both groupings. However.

one must determine whether there is a high probability that either behavioral stressors exist or there is an absence of resources.” Prior to utilizing this formula. However if both a and b have a value of one then d2 has a value of one [1 (1) = 1] demonstrating a high probability of developmental distress among the children. where a represents “Absence of Resources”. The researcher of this study believes that future studies on divorce and delinquency could build upon the Myers Developmental Distress Model (MDDM). A high probability of conditions would be represented by the value of one (1). 81 .Absence of Resources Financial Hardship Loss of Biological Parent DIVORCE Repetitive Partners and Divorce Environmental Stress DELINQUENCY High Conflict Households Parental Development Behavioral Stressors Figure 3. then d2 is zero [0 (1) = 0] indicating that there is a low probability of developmental distress leading to delinquency among the youth. Myers Developmental Distress Model (MDDM) The Myers Developmental Distress Model (MDDM) can also be expressed in the formula a (b) = d2. If a is zero and b is one. Zero (0) would then represent a low probability. and d2 represents “Developmental Distress. b represents “Behavioral Stressors”. Increased developmental distress would lead to an adolescent youth’s increased probability of exhibiting criminally delinquent behavior.

however the author of this study fervently believes that the Developmental Distress Model should be accepted as the foundation of further research on the effects of divorce on adolescent youth. the parent may forego future earning opportunities to stay home and provide the 82 . Finally.Implications and Recommendations Although the results of this study failed to provide the appropriate amount of support necessary to achieve the desired outcome of identifying the specific aspect or aspects of divorce that most directly leads to delinquency among the youth of non-intact families. Kelly & Emery. the researcher felt that the study may still provide a noteworthy contribution to society and the social sciences. Second. leaving little supervision for the child at home. Price & Kunz. increasing parental involvement in the child’s life. and attempting to reduce the rate of separations or divorces. the researcher also believes that this study confirmed that the children of divorce are significantly more likely to demonstrate delinquent behavior than their traditional counterparts. along with previous research (Amato. the researcher provides recommendations to neuter the effects of divorce on children in the hope that the criminal behavior displayed by these children would be greatly reduced. 2003) pointed to family economic distress as a contributing factor to childhood delinquency. On the other hand. promoting family and child counseling. 1993. Reduced family revenue often meant that the single-parent would have to work multiple jobs. this paper supports previous research by identifying divorce as a primary contributing factor to delinquency among adolescent youth. First. Recommendations for researchers and future studies conclude this paper. Economic Security This study. The researcher’s four recommendations are increasing economic security. 2003.

According to the U. the long-term decrease in government benefits. The lack of adequate benefits and pay available to the economically depressed and often undereducated single-parent has become a major hindrance to employment. A welfare-to-work program may provide job training allowing the parent to find higher quality. In either case the child suffers from reduced parental support or reduced economic resources. absent of welfare. One of the most destructive side effects of divorce and single-parenthood is the lack of sufficient child support payments. The governmental cost of a welfare-to-work program could ultimately be recouped through the parent’s increase in taxable wages. The single-parent would then be able to survive. The higher standard of living experienced from economic security. These single-parents often turn to public assistance just to survive on the bare minimum of means.S. and the reduced strain on the criminal justice system. Even though child support generally amounts to just a small amount of income to the custodial parent a side benefit of increased payments is often 83 . An example would be a publicly funded welfare-to-work program. Although there would be some expense to the government and taxpayers upfront. higher paying employment than they would be able to find without professional training. these costs would be an investment. with increased resources to the family. 25% of all single-parents receive no child support annually. for more than a quarter of a century. may also increase the psychological well-being of both the parent and the children ultimately leading to reduced incidences of delinquent behavior. The goal of society should be to assist these single-parents in becoming economically self-supportive. on just one job allowing for more supervision of the household children. Bureau of Census (1987) on average more than one-third of all divorced mothers have never been awarded child support and.supervision and care necessary to raise a child appropriately.

increased contact with the noncustodial parent. Increased parental involvement along with increased economic security will prove to have a dramatic effect on the child’s health, psychological adjustment, behavior, and academic achievement. Family and Child Counseling The psychological well-being of all family members following a divorce, whether high-conflict or not, must be taken into consideration in any attempt at delinquent behavior intervention. For decades researchers, such as Wallerstein and Kelly (1980), have promoted psychological intervention and counseling for the children following the dissolution of their parent’s marriage. Even though just a few of these children suffer from maladjustment leading to increased anxiety, increased stress, and externalized behaviors; a concentration on therapeutic intervention will generally decrease the effect and scope that the family dissolution has on a child. Often divorced parents suffer a period of maladjustment following a divorce leading to isolation from the children. Hetherington (1999) explained that parents may suffer from increased anger, depression, and self-doubt. These feelings, experienced by the parents, often lead to an emotional separation from the children and reduce the parents’ ability to supervise and care for the children appropriately. In order to mitigate the effects of maladjustment following a divorce all family members can attend counseling individually or as a group. Individual counseling for children is designed to alleviate the stresses of divorce by allowing the children to express their feelings and concerns, manage their anger, and develop much needed problem-solving skills. Small groups offer another option for grieving children. Counseling in a small group offers an advantage to the children because they have the opportunity to share their experiences as well as recognize the fact that they are not the only children going through a family break-up. The most beneficial 84

aspect of small group therapy may be that children often feel more comfortable talking with their peers than an authority figure concerning their feelings. Counseling for the divorcing parents should be designed to assist in developing communication and parenting skills in reference to their children. An additional focus of family or parent counseling should be placed on the reduction of conflict within the home. Each of these three deficiencies; communication, parenting, and conflict, have been identified by Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003) as leading factors leading to delinquent behavior among the children of divorce. Any effort to improve the parents approach in these three areas will assist in developing a positive and secure psychological well-being among the adolescent child. Increased Parental Involvement Scholars such as Price and Kunz (2003), Kelly and Emery (2003), and Amato (1993) have all agreed that one of the chief negative aspects of divorce is the denigration of the parent-child relationship. Due to the mounting evidence provided by these researchers and other child developmentalists, custody arrangements across the nation have begun to shift away from the traditional view that designated the mother as the primary custodial parent with father visitation rights to a more amiable and equal form of joint physical custody. The emphasis is placed upon recognizing the importance of maintaining secure relationships with both parents (Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992). Joint physical custody provides both parents legal responsibilities and rights giving the children increased significant time with each parent juxtaposed with the more traditional joint legal custody that also gives both parents legal rights over the children but the children reside with just one of the parents.

85

According to Bowman and Ahrons (1985) increased arrangements involving joint physical custody has had a dramatic effect on the father-child relationship. Bowman and Ahrons claimed that joint physical custody has been shown to increase payments of child support as well as, and more importantly, intensify father contact and involvement. Following the divorce, parents who have been awarded joint physical custody have appeared to be more satisfied than parents with more traditional arrangements mainly due to the benefit of having frequent access to the children. In addition, studies have shown that the children involved in these joint custody arrangements are significantly better adjusted than children from conventional agreements (Shrier, Simring, Shapiro, & Greif, 1991). More equitable custody arrangements would appear to be essential in order to assist in reducing the development of anti-social or delinquent behaviors among children raised in single-parent households. Reduce Rate of Separation or Divorce As stated previously in this paper the number of divorces in America has increased from a rate of just 5% in the beginning of the 20th century to a current rate of nearly 50% (Cherlin, 1992). Glendon (1989) explained that the rising divorce phenomenon can be traced back to and correlated with the establishment of the no-fault divorce in the 1970s. The no-fault divorce allows for one marriage partner to petition for divorce whether the other partner desires a divorce or not. In addition the no-fault divorce allows for a permanent separation without cause on either partner’s behalf. Glendon argued that divorce rates increased once restrictions were eased allowing for more accessible and convenient divorces. This rise in divorce rates, however, does not necessarily signify a rise in overall separations. According to Glendon, Sweet, and Bumpass (1990), during periods of more restrictive divorce laws, marriage abandonments 86

Concurrently. In addition to providing tax benefits. Each of these conditions has been shown to effect adolescent development negatively (Amato. an increased amount of children were raised in singleparent households with no child-support payments and little to no contact with the absent parent. 1993). The goal should be to reduce the amount of marital separations as a whole. First. there should be a concentration on increasing marital security. Marriage enrichment and preparation programs as well as government encouragement through tax laws and social policies could have a dramatic long term effect on the institution of marriage. church. Through the reduction of marital divorce or separation society will experience an increased population of psychologically welldeveloped adolescent youth. or other social organizations. This accentuated two problems for adolescents whose parents were not allowed to legally separate. One powerful tool that the government can utilize is the current tax code. and happiness. should concentrate on counseling couples and enriching the marriage experience. these children were often forced to remain in highconflict households and secondly. 87 . Furstenberg and Cherlin suggested that these marriage preparation programs. Furstenberg and Cherlin (1991) have suggested the development and implementation of programs that prepare couples for the hardships of marriage. without being singularly focused on divorce rates. stability.and informal separations were much more common specifically among families of low economic status. Tax credits and benefits should be designed to encourage the institution of marriage and strengthen the financial benefits of remaining married as well as the caring for children. Governmental bodies can implement policies to strengthen the institution of marriage as easily as laws were passed easing restrictions on divorce. whether sponsored by the government.

On the other hand. and Price and Kunz (2003) should be examined individually as a distinct study. theories.Future Research Even though a great deal of research exists concerning the effects of divorce on children. that many single-parent households function competently. In addition the great majority of children raised in these homes grow to be perfectly stable and productive members of society. It is essential that society begins to concentrate on developing systems that will assist in reducing separation in the social and psychological development between adolescent children raised in the less traditional single-parent household following a divorce and the children from the more traditional intact two-parent home. sexual-battery. Each of the earlier listed aspects. sociological. Further examination of each perspective will greatly enhance and broaden the understanding of marital dissolution and parent-child relationships. divorce is a reality in American life and the great majority of these divorces involve families with developing children. It should be noted. Kelly and Emery (2003). and even clinical point of view. This study did not break out distinctions based on race or gender. however. or perspectives of divorce provided by Amato (1993). or homicide. Because children will continue to suffer the effects of 88 . Future research can further this study by splitting variables based upon these biographical characteristics. a great deal of knowledge still needs to be explored. Finally future research should be conducted considering the effects of divorce and the development of criminally violent behaviors such as battery. Care should be taken not to broadly blame single-parents as the cause of society’s ills and for the problems of adolescent youth. Information on how divorce affects children from different gender or racial categories would be edifying from a criminal justice.

alleviate. 89 . and ease their transition into adulthood.divorce it is incumbent that measures are taken to intervene.

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