Juvenile Delinquency is a major problem in the United States. Many of our youth are participating in illicit activities to gain something, whether it is money, popularity, etc. Parenting styles have a major effect on a child’s decision to participate in delinquent behaviors. A sense of family is most important for the development of socialization for children, teenagers, and young adults. Parents play an important role in that process of socialization for their children. The way in which a parent behaves to their child, emotionally or physically, is expressed to the child, which in turn allows for the child to interpret those behaviors and act out in a certain way. This goes to show that parents are a major influence over their children and are responsible for shaping them into an adult; therefore, the discipline style that parents choose to use ends up having a substantial impact on their child’s actions.
The purpose of this research design proposal is to determine if the influence of parents and their perceived parenting styles have any effect on children’s behavior leading up to juvenile delinquency. There are four types of parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved. The way parents raise and teach their children has an effect on whether that child will succeed and do good in life or if they will become another statistic in the juvenile system. For years, parenting styles have provided research experts with what parenting styles have been shown as most effective or least effective styles for raising their children, teenagers, and young adults to develop considerably better attitudes and behaviors. It has become more common for people to blame parents for the way their child is engaging in violent behavior. Throughout this research study, I will analyze the different parenting styles to see which one is most closely related to children becoming involved in delinquent activities.
Before I talk about the measures I would take to operationalize my independent variable (parenting styles) and dependent variable (juvenile delinquency), I would like to give some background information on the four different types of parenting styles. The first type of parenting style is Authoritative parenting. This type of parenting allows parents to demonstrate “a responsiveness to the child’s needs, demandingness…monitoring of the child’s behavior, providing clear standards of conduct, and discipline based on reasoning…” (Johnson par. 5). Authoritative parents provide a home environment with emotional support, encouragement, behavioral supervision, etc. Children are encouraged to behave respectfully and morally. They are also taught to respect their elders and to think independently for themselves. Authoritative parents promote individuality and confidence by being supportive and attentive to their child’s needs and demands. This parenting style “allows a child to develop into a healthy individual, both socially and psychologically” (Mowen p. 4). Research has also found that with this parenting style, “high levels of parental monitoring are associated with lower instances of some delinquent behavior…and illicit drug use” (Mowen p. 4). Therefore, authoritative parenting is known as the best type of parenting style because it is stable, warm, and sensible.
The second type of parenting style is Authoritarian parenting. This type of parenting is very strict, controlling and low nurturance. Communication skills are extremely low with this style. Children who are parented by this style usually turn out with low self-esteem, out of control, aggressive, and at times depressed. Authoritarian parents demonstrate “demandingness…are less responsive to the child’s needs, are more likely to use power assertive discipline, and may utilize love withdrawal to gain compliance” (Johnson par. 6). When a child does something wrong, that love and nurturance from their parent may be withheld in order to teach the child a lesson. These types of parents operate with a “do as you are told style of discipline” (Johnson par. 6). The parent does not allow for any type of discussion with the child about what they did wrong. Conformity and obedience are greatly emphasized with this type of style and discourages open communication, which allows for an increase in the probability that a child will engage in deviant activities.
The third type of parenting style is Permissive parenting. This type of parenting allows for the parent to demonstrate “high degrees of responsiveness, a lack of demandingness, uninvolved parenting, and negative emotionality” (Johnson par. 7). Children are less supervised by parents who conform to this type of parenting. The parents have a lack of control over their child. Basically, a child is raising themselves and engaging in certain behaviors without their parents’ concern for the outcome of that child’s actions. These types of parents are less of a figure of authority and more of a friend and/or counselor. Their children grow up with little to none expectations and/or disciplines. The child is allowed to make their own decisions and rules without the guidance from their parent. Parents who parent with this type of parenting style are more worried about being liked by their child rather than disciplining them. Multiple studies have found that when child grow up without parental supervision, that child “may contribute to adolescent involvement in deviant peer groups and delinquency…” (Mowen p. 5). This goes to show that this parenting style effects a child’s decision to participate in deviant activities.
The last type of parenting style is Uninvolved parenting. This type of parenting style allows for a parent to demonstrate a minimum amount of warmth for the child and control over the child. These parents are “rejecting of the child and gives the child minimal if any attention or nurturance” (Johnson par. 8). This parent does not participate in any of their parenting responsibilities, which means that they have no concern for their children. The parent is wrapped up in their own life and has no regards for their children’s lives. This parent may provide a home and other necessities, but there is no relationship between them and their child. Basically, the child is left having to take care of oneself and provide for oneself without the help of their parent. The parent is not involved emotionally with their child and establishes no connection with them. Uninvolved parenting is highly correlated with signs of “negative psychological emotions in adolescents and children” (Mowen p. 6). Many studies have found that children who see their parents as permissive and uninvolved “are more likely to engage in illicit drug use and alcohol abuse” (Mowen p. 5). This parenting style, along with permissive, increases the chances of a child engaging in deviant behavior.
With all of that being said, those are the four types of parenting styles that can either increase or decrease the chances of a child becoming involved in illicit activities. For this research design, I will be conducting a factorial design instead of a classic experimental design because I have four types of parenting styles, which results in my study having more than one experimental group. The independent variable of the study will be the parenting styles. Experimental group 1 would be parents taking on the Authoritative style. Experimental group 2 would be parents taking on the Authoritarian style. Experimental group 3 would be parents taking on the Permissive style. Lastly, experimental group 4 would be parents taking on the Uninvolved style. The control group would be those not associated with any type of parenting style. Instead they decide to parent their children in their own type of way. The dependent variable will be the increase or decrease in a child’s chance to participate in juvenile delinquency. Here, I would look at school records and/or self-reports of deviant behavior as indicated by surveys distributed to students at school.
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There are multiple steps for me to take in order to collect the data on my dependent variable. In my experimental research design, the population of interest are all parents and adolescents in the United States. In order to choose the subjects of my study, I decided to use the sampling technique of stratified random sampling. The reason for this is because I want to focus on the demographic variable of race, which is a particular interest to the study. There will be four races looked at in this study. Those races would be White, African-American or Black, Hispanic, and Asian. A sample total of 1,000 students from a high school and 500 students from middle school will be involved in this research design. Those 1,500 students will have their parents randomly assigned to a parenting style and would have to act out that style for at least a month or two depending on how the experiment goes. Every week, data would be collected through self-reports given to those 1,500 students at school and data would also be collected through school records (“see Appendix A”).
When it comes to designing experimental research proposals, it is important to pay attention to the reliability and validity of measurement in minimize errors in an experiment. I do believe there would be a few potential reliability problems in this experiment. The instruments themselves used for the experiment would not change unless the access to school records is denied, then the self-report surveys would be the only survey instrument. A problem may occur when it comes to measuring deviant behavior in children is if the same result would be given each time. It would be helpful to get the same result each time, but it is not guaranteed that that adolescent or young adult would continue to engage in those deviant behaviors. The consistency of the research study would remain consistent when it comes to the measurement of the instrument. The instruments used are intended to measure the same concept, which is to determine if there is an increase or decrease in deviant behavior based on what type of parenting styles these children are receiving at home. The self-reports and school records relate to one another because if we compare a student’s answers to the survey with their school records, there would be a relation between the two. For example, let’s say a student takes the survey and it shows that they do engage in deviant behavior if we look at their school records and see that it matches up, that would show that those two items relate to one another.
The measurement instruments of this research design would be valid in determining if children are more likely to engage in deviant behaviors based on the parenting style they are receiving. Self-reports and school records are a valid way to measure juvenile delinquency. When it comes to the face validity of the experiment, the frequency of inappropriate behavior shown on school records or in the self-reports would seem to be a valid measure of a child’s participation in juvenile delinquency. When it comes to the content validity of the experiment, there could be an issue with the instruments encompassing the entire meaning of juvenile delinquency. For example, let’s say that those individuals with strong social bonds are less likely to engage in deviant behavior. In order to ensure that the measure of social bonds has content validity, all of the dimensions of social bonds would have to be included.
When it comes to the internal validity of a research design, there are possible rival causal factors that could threaten the internal validity. One potential threat is history. If a parent became involved in an allegation, that would affect one participant of the study. With it just being one person, that would not necessarily affect the results of the study, so the research study would still continue on. The second threat is maturation. There is not a strong possibility that maturation would be a threat in this study because it would have to do with the psychological or emotional changes in a subject that is not due to the independent variable. The third threat is testing effects. There could be a possibility of that in the study when it comes to the self-reports. If students see the same question on the self-reports, there could be an error introduced in the accuracy of the study. This could be addressed by switching up the questions on each self-report survey given to the students, so none of them can become familiarized with the questions. The fourth threat is instrumentation. This would not be a threat to the study because the measurement instruments used during the course of the study would not change. The fifth threat is selection bias. This would not be threat to the study because all of the participants involved would be randomly selected to participate in the study and the parents would be randomly selected a parenting style. The last type of threat is attrition. There is a possibility that participants may drop out of the study while it is still in progress. This could be addressed by adding new participants to the study within the two-month period and just have those new participants do the experiment a bit longer than those who are already involved.
When it comes to the external validity of a research design, there are also possible factors that could threaten the external validity. The first potential threat is reactivity. The parents would be aware of the fact that they are being studied, but the children would not be aware. As long as the children are not aware then the research environment would still be representative of the actual world. The last potential threat is selection bias. As said in internal validity, selection bias would not be a threat because all of the participants would be randomly selected using a computerized random generator.
There could be a few potential ethical concerns regarding my proposed study. There would be no physical risk of the study involved. Parents would not be allowed to physically cause harm to their children nor cause physical discomfort. There is a psychological/emotional risk involved. Children could become depressed or have emotional trauma depending on the parenting style they would be exposed to. This would try to be minimized as little as possible; however, it is not guaranteed that this risk will not happen. There could also be social/economic risk involved. It would be more focused on social risk being involved. A parent’s status in the community could be threatened by their involvement in the research study; however, it is not highly likely that their children would expose that to someone else, but it is a possibility. There could be a legal risk depending on what sort of deviant activity the child behaved in; however, that legal risk would be minimized as little as possible to ensure that these children do not face criminal charges during/or after the course of the study. There would be no concerns regarding the loss of confidentiality. Participants names of the study would be kept confidential, so there would be no complications later on in their life.
While carrying out the study, there are some special issues might of concern to me. The population of interest from which I am sampling could have some issues of concern because the study is relying on young adolescents to tell the truth. Most young people are not always known for telling the truth. With the possibility of them not being completely honest, then the results of the study would not be accurate. Therefore, it would be hard to justify the reliance of the study to see if it is an accurate representation of the real world. The sampling techniques I am using could also be a concern in the study. With using the stratified random sample technique, there could be an issue if the participants fall into more than one subgroup when it comes to the race variable. The result could become a misrepresentation of the entire population. The content of my survey instruments can also be an issue of concern. I would look at school records and/or self-reports of deviant behavior as indicated by surveys distributed to students at school. It might be difficult to collect/or look at student’s school records when it comes to the sense of confidentiality established at schools. Surveys can also be a bit difficult because students could lie on the surveys and not tell the whole truth, so that would end up in wrong information being collected. Even though there could be some concerns in the study, the type of parenting style parents use is an accurate variable source to determine the possibility of their child participating in deviant behavior.