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Families and Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages
This paper summarizes the findings of previously published research studies on the relationship between the functioning of families and crime, as well as on programs designed to address family problems of the kind associated with an increased likelihood of delinquency, with attention to the United Kingdom.
The findings of the principal research studies indicate that the factors most significantly related to an increased risk of criminality are economic deprivation, poor parental supervision, parental neglect, harsh or erratic discipline, parental conflict, long-term separation from a biological parent, and having a parent with a criminal record. Research on family intervention programs suggests that a family policy geared to preventing delinquency should include measures to raise the living standards of families with dependent children and to remove the "poverty traps" that act as a disincentive to improve family income through earnings. There should also be preparation for family life and parenthood in schools and national mass media campaigns to promote parent education, as well as parent access to parental skills training courses. Other measures that can prevent criminogenic family environments are quality, affordable child care; quality preschool education in partnership with parents; access to family centers with a variety of supportive services for families; the extension of health visits to the parents of young children as well as infants; family support programs for parents under stress; and family preservation services. Specific British programs designed to improve family life are described in this paper. 25 references