Nature versus nurture
Are kids a product of their genetic makeup or their environment? This is the question that lies at the crux of the nature versus nurture argument. Of course, many of those within the scientific community say that both a kid's upbringing and their genetic makeup affect their behavior, albeit in different ways. Now, this debate has been reignited after a recent study identified a correlation between paternal figures and juvenile delinquency in boys.
Unfortunately, many of the study's key findings will come to no surprise for some families. Even so, the findings can still serve as a powerful reminder for parents - especially fathers - that their behavior can directly influence their son's future encounters with the law.
Study links paternal behavior to juvenile delinquency in boys
Researchers from five universities analyzed the correlation between criminal behavior among boys and the role that their fathers had in their lives. The researchers only analyzed data from juvenile males who committed misdemeanor charges. The boys were asked to answer questions about their fathers and their own criminal behavior such as identifying if their father was hostile, showed them little affection or was present in their lives.
Boys with harsh fathers reported having committed more crimes than boys who reported having "high quality" fathers. The sons of "harsh" fathers also reported higher rates of substance abuse. Boys whose fathers were absent in their lives also had a higher rate of criminal behavior. Furthermore, the study found that a father's absence can, in fact, influence a son's juvenile delinquency. However, not all fathers who are involved in their sons' lives are positive influences and can have the opposite effect on criminal behavior in some cases which the study also mentioned.
It's important to note that the findings are by no means an excuse for a juvenile's criminal behavior. However, parents serve as their kid's role models and should be aware of the examples that they set. When kids observe violent behavior in the household, there is no denying that the odds are stacked against them to end up in the criminal justice system.