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Gender and Family Essay

It can be said the males make up the vast majority of the prison population. It can also be said that men are just plain different than women when it comes to ethics, morals, and violence. Whether gender has any influence on whether or not a crime is committed is not fully understood, but there are many theories.

What are some current explanations for gender differences as they relate to delinquency? *
* There are many views and theories as to if and how gender affects delinquency. One of the major theories is the gender-schema theory which basically states that society influences create girls feminine and boys masculine and that they are expected to adhere to those gender roles. Others theorize that differences are based on traits and that it is the “interaction of biological and psychological traits with the social environment that produces delinquency” (Siegel & Welsh, p. 142). Much of this has to do with child development. Other theorists believe social factors such as family life and friendships play a major role in criminal behavior. The feminists hold that crime rates have fluctuated because of the increased role women have in today’s society .Another contributor to the debate is the power-control theory which attests that women commit less crime because men have a role as the breadwinner for the family.

How does family affect delinquency?

* Much of our life is based on relationships and family is a big part of that. Family relationships, or the lack of relationships, can influence a person in many ways. The affect is unique to the person and their situation so it is hard, if not impossible, to determine if family interactions can influence criminal behavior. *

How does family makeup affect delinquency?

* Factors in regards to family makeup that affect delinquency can include divorce or separation, economic stress, abuse, as well as lack of adequate or positive adult supervision. The family interactions can either be a positive influence or a negative one which could increase the risk for delinquent behavior. *

How does family behavior influence delinquency?
* There are four categories of family behavior that are possible contributors to delinquent behavior. These include family breakup, conflict, deviance, and neglect (Siegel & Welsh, p. 159). These factors can combine or work individually to create a high risk environment for delinquent behavior. Research done in regards to these four relationship theories and their applicability is still controversial. * Unhappy marriages, separation, divorce, and remarriage all contribute to an unstable home environment. The institution of marriage is no longer what it used to be. There have been studies done, but none have concluded with substantial results on this issue. Although the divorce rate has increased to, it has not been shown that this has been caused by family breakup. The theory that family conflict can lead to delinquency has shown in research to be a contributing factor in delinquency. ”Adolescents who are incarcerated report growing up in dysfunctional homes” (Siegel & Welsh, 161).

This can mean anything from parents who argue a lot to parent-child conflicts based on rules or punishment. Other family members who exhibit deviant behavior can also have a negative influence. When delinquent behavior appears to be acceptable and other family members are participating in criminal acts, children or other siblings may view it as an appealing practice or condoned behavior. Neglect can come in many forms and is also a theory behind what causes delinquent behavior. Although each family structure is different with contributing cultural factors, there may be a link between children who do not have a strong parent-child connection. Problems may arise due to inconsistent discipline, inadequate supervision, or family resources being stretched too thin due to family size or economic situations.

Are delinquent females treated differently than delinquent males by members of the juvenile justice system?
* Yes, female juvenile offenders are treated differently than male offenders. They are less likely than males to get arrested and charged for a crime. However, once charged, females typically receive a harsher punishment.

Are they treated unfairly?

* Typically, female offenders are under more scrutiny of stereotypes than males. Society, and those employed in the juvenile justice system hold females to a different moral standards than men. However, this is dependent upon the situation as well as the location. *

Do they benefit from being female? Why or why not?

* In some ways, females benefit from gender inequality, but in other ways it works against them. While they may not get arrested as often, once in the system they often deal with unfair conditions. In fact, “Institutionalized girls report that they are given fewer privileges and less space, equipment, programs, and treatment than institutionalized boys” (Siegel & Welsh, p.152).

Siegel, L. J. & Welsh, B. C. (2005). Juvenile delinquency: The core. (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

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