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Families, Delinquency, and Crime

Linking Society's Most Basic Institution to Antisocial Behavior

Ronald L. Simons, Leslie Gordon Simons, and Lora Ebert Wallace

Publication Date - 11 August 2004

ISBN: 9780195330427

232 pages
6 x 9 inches

In Stock

"The content of the book is richly informed, not only by the most recent research and theory in the field but also by the findings from collaborative efforts in the authors' own high-quality research."--Ronald L. Akers, University of Florida


This book explores the link between family life and antisocial behavior. In recent years, researchers from a variety of disciplines have investigated the relationship between society's most fundamental social institution--the family--and various forms of criminal behavior. Simons et al. fill a fundamental void in the literature by demonstrating how these seemingly disparate lines of research can be woven together using classic and contemporary theories of delinquency and crime. The book is designed to serve as a supplement for courses on juvenile delinquency, criminology, deviance, and child development.

Families, Delinquency, and Crime evaluates and explores popular explanations using the results of studies by sociologists, criminologists, and psychologists. Each chapter succinctly defines terminology, establishes a review of empirical literature, and provides an effective argument that families are a dynamic aspect of our social lives that are intricately related to delinquency and other problem behaviors. Clear examples of each situation are provided.

Part I explains child and adolescent antisocial behavior. The chapters review theory and research regarding the effect of family structure, marital conflict, parental antisocial behavior, and parents' childrearing practices on a child's risk for conduct problems and delinquency. Part II focuses on adult antisocial behavior and shows how the various family socialization processes and childhood behavior problems discussed in Part I influence the probability of later adult crime. Explanations are provided for both the continuity and discontinuity of antisocial behavior across the life course. Consideration is given to the manner in which romantic partners often modify deviant life course trajectories. The book also explores the link between family experiences during childhood and adult risk for either perpetrating or becoming the victim of marital violence.


"This book...provides both an introduction to and the latest knowledge on the subject in a way that is accessible to students and other nonexperts.... After reading the book, I found myself better informed even about issues that I already knew well and had studied in depth. Simons et al. are enthusiastic, engaged, and knowledgeable about the subject of family relationships and antisocial behavior. The content of the book is richly informed, not only by the most recent research and theory in the field but also by the findings from collaborative efforts in the authors' own high-quality research. All of this is presented in a concise and remarkably well-written manner."--Ronald L. Akers, University of Florida

Table of Contents

    Foreword (by Ronald L. Akers)
    Part I: Family Processes and the Deviant Behavior of Children and Adolescents
    1. Defining Our Terms and Focus
    Deviance and Social Norms
    Cultural Relativity and Antisocial Behavior
    What Are Families?
    The Focus of Subsequent Chapters
    2. Linking Parenting and Delinquency: Theories of Social and Self-Control
    Criminal Careers Start Early
    Early Evidence Linking Parenting and Delinquency
    Social Control Theory
    The Elements of Effective Parenting
    Self-Control Theory
    3. Family Interaction and Peer Influences: Social Learning Explanations
    Respondent Learning
    Operant or Instrumental Learning
    Mutual Training
    Modeling as Vicarious Learning
    Ron Akers' View of Social Learning and Crime
    Patterson's Coercion Model
    4. The Corporal Punishment Controversy
    Methodological Problems
    Theoretical Considerations
    Severity of Punishment
    Age of Child
    Quality of the Parent-Child Relationship
    Cultural and Community Context
    5. Family Structure and Delinquency
    Changing Family Forms
    Single-Parent Households
    Quality of Parenting in Single-Parent Households
    The Stress of Being a Single Parent
    Nonresidential Fathers
    Blended or Stepfamilies
    Multigenerational and Extended-Kin Households
    6. The Effects of Parental Work and Neighborhood Conditions on Family Processes
    Economic Hardship and Parenting
    Linking Parental Employment to Family Processes
    Community Differences in the Consequences of Parental Control
    Collective Socialization: Adults Influencing Other People's Children
    The Consequences of Labeling: The Juvenile Justice System and Family Processes
    Part II: Adult Deviance as an Expression of Childhood Socialization
    7. Linking Childhood Delinquency and Adult Crime: Life Course Perspectives on Antisocial Behavior
    Self-Control Theory: A Latent Trait Approach
    The Life Course Perspective: Explaining Both Continuity and Change
    Evaluating the Evidence
    Summary and Conclusion
    8. Marital Violence: Antisocial Behavior
    Learned in Childhood?
    The Incidence of Marital Violence
    Explaining Marital Violence
    Patriarchy and Male Dominance
    Childhood Exposure to Family Violence
    The Criminological Perspective
    Explaining Women's Double Jeopardy
    Summary and Conclusions
    9. Child Maltreatment: Inept Parenting or Expression of a General Antisocial Orientation?
    How Common Is Child Maltreatment?
    Intergenerational Transmission of Child Maltreatment
    Sexual Abuse of Children
    Summary and Conclusions
    10. Conclusions and Observations
    Name Index

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