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Juvenile Theft & Burglary and Family Influence


Juvenile criminal behavior continues to confound physiologists, sociologists and criminologists all over the world. These behavioral specialists have continuously debated the causes of juvenile delinquency. Child ill-treatment has been named as the major facet by several of the behavioral specialists whilst others have claimed that child exploitation unaided cannot give a reason for the juvenile felony. However, most scholars have shown that a collective pool of other factors such as peer influence, family influence, race, trauma, emotional development and other socio-economic factors explain the causes of juvenile delinquency. This analysis will focus on the family as an issue in the explanation of juvenile criminal behavior.

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Family influence

The family strongly influences child behavior. In fact, family is deemed as a major factor in determining the behavioral development of a child either positively or negatively. Parental measures such as control, discipline, and monitoring greatly affect the child’s behavioral development. In addition, the affective characteristics of a parent have a strong influence on the emotional development of the child (Mandel, 2008). For instance, the effective nature of the parent is essential in the development of the parent-child relationships which in effect influences a child’s emotional development.

Affective nature determines closeness, attachment, acceptance, and rejection. Many behavioral specialists agree that the influence of family can be used to predict the behavioral development of a child (Mandel, 2008). It has further been noted that the influence of the family is stronger than that of the peers in the child’s behavioral development. The warning is that affirmative family control along with up communication policy with dominant poignant bonding can assuage the control of unpredicted conduct in a youthful person’s life.

The family type is also an extremely important factor to consider. With respect to modern versus traditional families, there is a big contrast in the way the child’s behavior develops. Children growing up in more modern families have a high chance of engaging in delinquent behavior than those who were brought up in traditional families (McCord, Wisdom & Crowell, 2001). The assertion is also true with children who are brought up in single or reconstituted families. In non-traditional families, there are strong correlations between children’s felony and cohesion. Conventional families had ample wealth and hence supplementary disinterested home upbringing. Parents took much of their time looking after the children. In conventional families, scores of time were allotted for kin contacts. Communication and interpersonal relationships were highly encouraged (McCord et al., 2001). It has moreover been observed that parents in the traditional setting had good parenting skills which were essential in the prevention of juvenile delinquency.

On the contrary, modern families face more difficulties in raising their children. More often than not, modern families find themselves raising children as single parents. The dilemma with sole parenting is that financially viable resources are inadequate whilst less moment and liveliness is dedicated to the offspring (Moore, 2003). Parents find themselves spending much of their time in a job or consequently pursuing economic means. Further, the monetary sustenance to all the offspring and sole parents ought to present expressive prop up.

For the reconstituted families, difficulties in bringing up the children are experienced in the parent-child communication as well as in providing emotional support. In most cases, children do not relate well with the foster parents. This is due to the misunderstanding as well as misconceptions between the children and the step-parents. Children may develop hard feelings surrounding the issues of lack of access to their own parents (Hawkins et al, 2000). Such feelings are strongly developed by older children who are in late adolescent. At some point, the young people are unlikely to indulge in unexpected behavior. All these factors put together help in explaining why delinquent behavior such as theft and burglary among children emerge to be currently common and incessantly rising (Hawkins et al., 2000).

In as much as young people can be positively influenced by effective parenting, they can also be influenced negatively by poor parenting. It has been noted that parents that poorly communicate with their children are incapable of bonding emotionally (Montaldo, 2011). Children from such families are likely to engage in criminal behavior. Studies confirm that there is a strong affiliation linking dysfunctional parenting along with commitment with illegitimate or immoral manners. Some researches have indicated that children from dysfunctional families normally engage in delinquent acts such as substance abuse, burglary, theft and street gangs. Such children have been found to exhibit high behavioral, emotional and psychiatric disorder (Montaldo, 2011). In essence, they are less adaptive and greatly involve themselves in prohibited acts.

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Offspring whose close relatives are stuff abusers in addition to those from divorced family-units have analogous manners. In as much as the two families have different disruptive scenario, children from these families exhibit similar characteristics (Silberman, 1978). Principally, their lives are broken. From broken up family units, offspring have to contend with expressive clash propos fidelity. They have problems spending time with their parents and influences in newly found families. Children from divorced and remarried families show high levels of defiance, aggressiveness and criminal behavior such as burglary and theft (Silberman, 1978). One factor that explains the behavioral anomaly is that family break ups result into better conditions that have an undesirable effect on children.

Instability as well as inconsistency in children’s life poses great risk for unlawful behavior. However, children can easily handle these harsh conditions proviso one parent who is stable and consistent exists (Mandel, 2008). Evidently, adaptive characteristics by the parents such as loving, emotional stability, supportive and consistency in parenting can be a preventive measure for children delinquency (Montaldo, 2011).

Effective family communication has been found to have positive influence on the children and the youth. Children positively develop in cases where their parents acknowledge their view point. For example, the acknowledgement of the children views help children to develop self-esteem as well as sense of self-image (Mandel, 2008). Such kind of communication in fact prevents negative external influences that might affect the lives of children.

Conversely, effective communication encompasses both open and problem communication. There is direct relationship between the two types of communication and delinquent behavior among children (Mandel, 2008). Children who are engaged in more open discussion with their parents are significantly at lower risk in engaging in criminal acts. This implies that children have to be assured that their views in the discussions will be taken seriously. The assurance is very essential in a child’s development since children are capable of sharing their experiences openly with their parents.


In conclusion, the most eminent factor that has been largely discussed as the cause of children delinquency in relation to theft and burglary is the family influence. There are many factors that explain the delinquency in children. It must be understood that criminal acts such as burglary and theft in children cannot be explained by one factor. Other factors such as peer influence, race and ethnicity, presence of trauma and low self esteem also explains the criminal behavior of children. It is similarly imperative to appreciate the complexity of delinquent behavior among children which cannot therefore be adequately explained by one factor.


Hawkins, D., F., Laub, J., H. Lauritsen, J., L. & Cothern, L. (2000). Race, Ethnicity, and Serious and Violent Juvenile Offending. Web.

Mandel, I., S. (2008). What Causes Juvenile Delinquency? Web.

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McCord, J., Wisdom, C., S. & Crowell, N. A. (2001). Juvenile crime, juvenile justice. Washington DC, USA: National Academies Press.

Montaldo, C. (2011). Youth Happiness Can Deter Crime, Drug Use: Positive Emotions Affect Decision Making. Web.

Moore, L., V. (2003). Juvenile crime: current issues and background. Hauppauge, New York, USA: Nova Publishers.

Silberman, C., E. (1978). Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice. Web.

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