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Family Dynamics Affecting Juvenile Delinquency

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Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Separation, Divorce and Blended Families
  4. References


This criminal justice research paper is an analysis of the family dynamics affecting juvenile delinquency. This paper will analyze the most pressing problems facing teenagers today. It will show the correlation of traditional opposite sex parents and non-traditional same-sex parents and what role or influence it has on or in the lives of adolescents. The difference between child abuse and child discipline will be examined and how it affects juvenile delinquency. A Biblical worldview will be encompassed into and contained into the examination of the family dynamics affecting juvenile delinquency. References will be given in this paper to fully support the assertions made concerning the family dynamics affecting juvenile delinquency.


This research paper will establish that there is overwhelming evidence that family dynamics affect and or contribute to juvenile delinquency. It will inform society that the most pressing problems facing teenagers today is separation, divorce and or blended families. This research paper will analyze the effects of traditional and non-traditional parents associated with the development of juveniles. It will educate on the differences between child abuse and child discipline and how they positively and negatively affect the development of youth. Many sources conclude that family dynamics affect juvenile delinquency and there is overwhelming evidence that it contributes to juvenile delinquency.

Separation, Divorce and Blended Families

The most pressing problems facing teenagers today is parental separation and divorce. “Family dissolution has become a common occurrence in the United States” (Siegel & Welsh, 2017). This is the most significant problem because the structure and dynamics of the family have changed over time. “The divorce rates in America are at an all-time high, and “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce” (American Psychological Association, 2005). There has been an increase in mothers and fathers who are raising children by themselves with no help and are co-parenting children in separate homes. The increase in blended families is becoming a common practice as well.

According to the American Psychological Association (2005), subsequent marriage divorce rates are even higher than those of first-time marriages. Studies suggest an increase of men in women having children out of wedlock and many families who are now living in cohabitation together. Fox (2014), contends that over the last 50 years that cohabitation has increased by nearly 900 percent. It is imperative for children to be raised in homes consisting of men and women who are married to each other. The American Psychological Association (2005) says that healthy marriages are good for the mental and physical health of couples as well as for children who grow up in a happy home, because it helps to protect them from mental, physical, educational and social problems.

Parents today are often raising a society of entitled children that have no respect for their parents, themselves, and or society due to the erosion of the traditional family and marriage values. Due to the changes of traditional families and marriages, often parents are not raising their children anymore, the children are raising their parents as we see younger and younger teenagers are having children out of wedlock. There is a correlation with juveniles having no family structure, guidance and or support at home from their parents and the development of juvenile delinquency. “All too often children in the United States spend their early lives in homes racked by tension and conflict, absentee parents, separation, and divorce” (Siegel & Welsh, 2017

Parental separation and divorce are contributors to juvenile delinquency due to no stability in the home and the lack of discipline due to single parents raising children on their own and are often absent in the home due to having to work to provide for their children. This often consists of teenagers being left alone at home while their parents or parent goes to work, which often contributes to a lack of discipline and leaves the teenager vulnerable to outside influences, and to experimentation that may ultimately lead to juvenile delinquency. This is not to say; however, that a juvenile that has parents that have separated and or divorced or those living in blended families will turn out to be a juvenile delinquent; however, these are factors that play a role and or contribute to such.

Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Parents. The family, marriage and traditions of the Biblical requirements of the family has transitioned and or evolved overtime into different dynamics altogether. Marriage was once thought of in society as a holy covenant ordained by God to create what is known as family; however, over time this has shifted and or changed significantly. A traditional marriage monogamous relationship consisting of one man and one woman is the most widely accepted type of marriage and or family today. Many suggest that stern discipline and guidance of a father along with the loving and nourishing nature of a mother is needed in the lives of children to incorporate a balanced parenting style. Overtime there has been a shift in traditional marriages and people have often leaned on their own understanding and or reasoning of what they thought made up or consisted of a family and marriage, without adhering to or considering the Biblical values, beliefs and or traditions of a traditional marriage within the family dynamic. A major shift in the traditional family structure consisting of one man and one woman married to each other changed drastically in the landmark civil rights case of Obergefell V. Hodges.

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Obergefell V. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court Case that ruled that same-sex couples have a right to be married to each other just as opposite-sex couples do. It established the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples also. The cited and or references given for this ruling were the due process clause and the equal protection clause to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This decision defiled the very word of God in every sense and the basic sanctity of marriage. With the increase in Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) movements in America there is starting to be an increase in same-sex couples getting married to each other. Same-sex married couples is becoming the new norm with them co-parenting children.

These movements seem to be gaining popularity; however, it remains a sin and is not right in God’s eye and or according to his word. There has become a shift to same-sex parents parenting children either through adoption or through other methods, which eventually leaves children confused, because they may not understand why they have two mothers or two fathers that are married or in a relationship being their parents as this was once unheard of. According to Coontz (2007), these changes enabled same-sex couple to come out of the closet. It is not uncommon to see two men or two women in a married homosexual relationship parenting children now, which changed the entire dynamics of the family when they could be married as opposite-sex couples were and adopt children and or have children. This essentially desecrates the sacrament by going against the word of God as it relates to traditional marriage. We must ensure the purity of family and marriage is upheld in the tradition sense as designed by our God and make sure that we are not promoting and or advocating for sin when trying to be inclusive of all in civil rights.

The Differences between Child Abuse and Discipline. Often individuals, entity’s, and or movements seem to be unable to fathom and or comprehend the difference between what constitutes child abuse and what encompasses child discipline. Mynyo (2015), contend that of the social challenges worldwide that juvenile delinquency is at the forefront. It is critical that parents of children use acceptable forms of discipline as a way of modifying unacceptable behavior to correct juvenile behavior. “It includes both discipline and supervision from childhood to adulthood with the purpose of promoting and preventing certain behaviors in the children” (Ibabe & Bentler, 2015). The differences between child abuse and child discipline are definite and clear. Child abuse is inflicting harm onto a child using intentional physical means.

Child abuse may often start out as an acceptable form of discipline that cross the line into unacceptable physical harm. “The delicate intersection between childhood and criminality creates a complex dilemma to solve” (Mynyo, 2015). The effects of child abuse can range from physical, emotional and or psychological to name a few. Throughout the nation enacted legislation varying among different sates, counties and towns, which frowns upon parents disciplining their children, and not being inclusive of acceptable forms of biblical discipline. Child discipline is also referred to as corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment remains a common child rearing practice in the United States” (Gershoff and Bitensky, 2007).

It is defined “as the use of physical force, no matter how light, with the intention of causing the child to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the child's behavior” (Gershoff and Bitensky, 2007). Discipline of children is considered a sign of love from parents toward children, that they care enough about them and love them to punish them when they do wrong to steer them in the right direction. This helps create a balance of acceptable healthy corporal punishment within the home. “Spanking represents the most common form of corporal punishment that can range in severity (e.g., beating, whipping, shaking, shoving, scolding, etc.) by parent” (King et al., 2018). “Parents use corporal punishment primarily to reduce undesirable child behavior in the present and to increase desirable child behavior in the future” (Gershoff and Bitensky, 2007). “Despite the various efforts against the use of child CP, it remains a common disciplinary strategy in North American homes” (Fréchette, Zoratti, & Romano, 2015). “At its most basic, the association of a negative stimulus with a behavior should make the behavior less likely in the future” (Gershoff and Bitensky, 2007).

A Biblical Worldview. The Bible gives guidance, instruction and defines what constitutes a traditional holy marriage. The Bible describes and defines marriage as a Holy Covenant before God. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, KJV). A man is to leave his father and mother and shall become one flesh with his wife when they are joined in marriage. Traditional marriage consists of one man and one woman being married to each other. The Bible instructs that homosexuality is a sin. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22, KJV). The Bible gives insight into adulty and divorce.

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9, KJV). The Bible offers instruction and guidance to parents on how they should raise their children. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV). How parents are to dsicpline their children are found in the scriptures. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24, KJV). God gives specific instruction on how parents are to raise, love and provide for their children in accordance with the Word of God through the scriptures. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, KJV).

Conclusion. There is overwhelming evidence that family dynamics affect juvenile delinquency. That the most pressing problems facing teenagers today is separation, divorce and or blended families, traditional vs. non-traditional families, the differences between child abuse and child discipline with a Biblical Worldview incorporated herein


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  13. Ibabe, I., & Bentler, P. M. (2015). The Contribution of Family Relationships to Child-to-Parent Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 31(2), 259-269. doi:10.1007/s10896-015-9764-0
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  15. Munyo, I. (2015). The juvenile crime dilemma. Review of Economic Dynamics, 18(2), 201-211. doi:10.1016/
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