Family Factors and Delinquency: A Brief International Review of Longitudinal Research
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN CONTEMPORARY GREECE: INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES, pp. 151-168, L. K. Cheliotis & S. Xenakis, eds., Peter Lang AG, 2011
Posted: 24 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 23, 2011
In Greece, police-recorded data reveal that, unlike what is commonly suggested by the national media and populist politicians, at times proposed by scholarly research, and often believed amongst the public, youth involvement in delinquent and criminal acts has neither grown in numerical terms nor has it become more violent over the last three decades. This notwithstanding, recent years have seen the expansion of pertinent research, increasingly including focus on such themes as school bullying and gang involvement. It is interesting that, despite the continuing centrality of the family in Greek society, its role – whether in causing or preventing delinquency – appears to have been largely overlooked. One wonders whether this is because family factors in Greece are seen as unrelated to juvenile delinquency, or because the family remains a taboo subject. This commentary therefore aims to provide a critical excursus to the ways in which international criminological research accounts for the importance of family factors in the aetiology of delinquent conduct. More specifically, the discussion addresses three categories of variables that are considered to be amongst the strongest family predictors of juvenile offending: criminal and antisocial parents and siblings; large family size; and child-rearing methods (poor supervision, poor discipline, coldness and rejection, and low parental involvement). Each category is reviewed with reference to the major relevant studies (especially longitudinal studies) and their primary theoretical explanations. The commentary concludes with an overall assessment of the significance of the family factors under scrutiny in effecting delinquency, also sketching some research questions that consequently emerge for the Greek case.
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