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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essay on Relationship between Families and Crime

            There are many theories that seek to explain crime and criminal behavior.  Some say that it is the labeling the society attaches to the individual that drives him to commit crime.  Some say that economic reasons are the primary reason for the commission of crime.  Of all the different theories that attempt to explain crime, I would place greater responsibility to the increasing crime rate on the families.  The stronger the family the lower is the probability that the child will engage in criminal act.  The weaker the family the higher is the possibility that the child will engage in criminal act.  The reason is simple.  The family is primarily involved in child rearing.  The family is primarily responsible for transmitting the values of love, care, obedience, respect for law and ensuring that their children internalize these values. 

            In view, however, of the changes in the environment, the family is now facing serious challenges that had made it weak in responding to these changes.  Specifically, there are various factors nowadays that were not present decades ago that changed the family and affected the capability of the parents to deal with pressures of child rearing and inculcating the right values to the children. 

            One of these changes is the rising divorce rate.  According to Nation Master, the United States now has the highest divorce rate in the world.  The situation was different before the 1960s where couples viewed marriage as a lifetime commitment.  Back then, it was the attitude among many married couple that couples should stay together and try to resolve their issues and differences for the sake of their children.  Since 1970s however, until today, the attitude is that a person need not stay in an unhappy marriage.  According to National Center of Health Statistics, divorce rates started to climb during the 1960s which started at 2.1% per 1000 people. It however peaked at 5.3% in 1981.  Divorce rates however have started to go down again and it is now at 3.6% which is its lowest rate (“U.S. divorce rate falls to lowest level since 1970”).

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            Social scientists say that the reason why divorce rates are down since 1981 was not because of strong marriages but because couples nowadays live together without the benefit of marriage.  This is one of the reasons why premarital sex is so common nowadays.  During the 1960s only 50% of 25 year have had sexual intercourse before they got married. Since 1980s however, five out of six women have had sex before they get married.  When people have sex out of wedlock, the result is that they give birth also out of wedlock.  During the 1960s the ideas was that even if a woman gets pregnant outside of marriage, the couple will still marry and raise their child together.  Nowadays, however people get pregnant and give birth outside of marriage.  Consequently, it is not surprising that according to US Census Bureau, one in three births from June 1997 to June 1998 occurred to an unmarried mother.

            Another problem facing the modern American families is the need for both parents to get employment.  In the past, both parents need not get jobs.  The income of either the father or the mother alone will suffice to maintain a decent standard of living for the family.  With the changes in economic conditions, it has become imperative for both parents to get to work.  Consequently, children are being deprived of the opportunity to grow up with their parents.  Both parents do not also have the time to monitor the activities of their children, ask them about their grades or schools and inquire about their friends and peers.

            These changes are the result of living in a modern society.  Nobody should be blamed for the change in views about marriage or premarital sex or giving birth out of wed-lock or the need for both parents to go to work.  It is simply the result of modernity. 

            While the environment should not be blamed for causing these changes, parents should exert extra effort to instill the needed values to their children so that their children are properly raised.  It is true that families nowadays are weaker but not because they no longer believe in marriage.  Families are weak not because they believe in premarital sex or because their children are born out of wed-lock.  Rather, families are weak because they have failed to take the needed action so that the children internalize the values of love, respect, justice, obedience to the law, and care for other people.  Families are weak because parents have lost sight of the importance of teaching their children the importance of these values.  I do not judge teenagers when they engage in premarital sex so long as they are safe.  I do not judge mothers who give birth out of wed-lock so long as they love their children and take care of them. 

            However, when teenagers go to school carrying loaded guns and open fire at any person, values is clearly lacking in these children.  These are the children whose parents failed to guide and supervise their growth and development.  I think the situation can be improved by empowering the parents.  Parents can be empowered through proper education campaign about the importance of their role.  They should be taught about the different ways for them to balance the demands of their work and their families.  Parents can be successful at work without sacrificing their families.  The government should take steps so that parents may know what to do and how to do it.  I do not think any parent would want to fail at their job at being parents.

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