The 21st Century American family is faced with very many challenges and problems than in any other time recorded in history. From economic downturns, to drugs, violence, racism, wars, global warming and health problems, the American family is influenced greatly by these problems. It is shown in marriages, and child behavioural patterns, which most of the time lead to delinquency. I will seek to identify some of these major problems and how the influence the prevalence of delinquent behaviour in society.
Divorce has become a plague in the American family. Many children have been involved in a divorce since 1972. Statistically, it is said that one third of American children will have been affected by divorce before the age of 18. Through the gruelling process of the divorce, the child is dragged through an ordeal of having to live with one parent while the other merely participates in little or no affairs relating to the child. This leads to a lack of structure and direction in a child’s life. The lack of a sensible support structure leads to lack of direction and leadership. Most children fill this gap with peers, whose intent and personality might not necessarily be pure and constructive. It is said that 74.5% of all juvenile arrests are children from one parent homes, mainly through divorce.
I believe financial pressures in the past decade have taken a toll on the American Family. Many families have been known to breakdown and even lose contact for years due to bankruptcy. This is caused by the increasing standards of life which raise the cost of living through inflation. Interest rates usually skyrocket causing loans and mortgages already taken to become more expensive. This mostly leads to repossession of the house by the financial institutions, breaking down a family. The strain of financial pressure has also led to many teenagers being enticed into “life in the fast lane”, where quick cash is made through all means necessary. This leads to delinquent behaviour.
I believe media is the most powerful tool of influence in the world today. The media is a tool that influences perceptions, emotions and beliefs towards a given idea or ideal. However as powerful as the media is, so is its threat to family. There are certain ideals on which the institution of family is founded on. The media in the 21st century has proven to be a threat to family ideals by promoting themes of violence, gang behaviour, organised crime, sex and immorality and divorce amongst others. These facets of the media corrode family values and lead to children developing delinquent behaviour.
Poverty in the United States varies by race. This affects the prevalence of juvenile delinquency in neighborhoods that are mostly populated by race. In the year 2009, Hispanic and Black children were just about 3 times more likely to be born under poverty than White children. I believe this explains the high levels of juvenile delinquent behavior that exist in neighborhoods that are predominantly Hispanic and/or black. This was evident during the most recent economic downturn that saw juvenile crimes increase drastically from 2009 through 2011.
I think drug abuse is still a problem to the American Family. One disconcerting fact from a study conducted by the National Centre for juvenile justices showed that most criminals who indulge in drug peddling and distribution prefer to use children under the age of 16 as transporters and channels through which they move their contraband products. This is evident from the number of drug trafficking arrests involving minors from low income families. 67% of all juvenile drug trafficking arrests involved children from low income families.
Bartollas, C., & Schmalleger, F. (2011). Juvenile Delinquency (8th ed.). Prentice Hall.
National Center for Juvenile Justice. (2012). Juvenile Arrest Rates by Offense, Sex, and Race (1980 - 2010). National Center for Juvenile Justice. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/excel/JAR_2010.xls