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Parental Delinquency Essay, Research Paper

Parental Delinquency?

Gone are the good old days when mom and dad were around to teach their children about morality and the basics of growing up. Instead, we see parents who have replaced caring and personal involvement with the purchase of material goods. We see parents who are afraid to discipline their children and who are afraid to set boundaries. We see parents who are afraid to hug their children and be involved in their lives.

A child’s behavior shows the kind of home he or she comes from. Parents are suppose to be role models, but what do we find. Parents are neglecting their responsibility. Parents, who ought to teach by precept and example, have fallen prey to the “do as I say, but not as I do” syndrome. We as a society, often times fail to look at the root cause of many of the adolescent problems being witnessed today.

I watched a PBS documentary entitled “The Lost Children of Rockdale County.” I found this documentary to be very disturbing look into the lives of middle to upper class youth. Though the focus of the program was sexual promiscuity, drugs, pornography, and alcohol, but what I found far more troubling was the tremendous breakdown that exists between the children of Rockdale County and their parents. This entire documentary was full of houses that were empty and void of supervision and adult presence.

Some recent research on adolescent behavior has provided an insight into factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency. The relationships between parents and children play a significant role in the social well being of the children. Children who do the best, have parents who use both a great deal of warmth and caring with their children and also exercise a high level of control over their children’s actions. High levels of warmth and control characterize the form of parenting referred to as authoritative. (Teenagers in Trouble, Gallagher, p.2) Authoritative parents are both firm and fair. Rarely did I see this type of parent in the program. “I thought that if I disciplined you, you would run away” was one comment made by a mother whose daughter had gone on a drinking bing at age twelve, blacked out, and realized she had been raped when she came to.

Many of the parents documented were not able to connect with their children and even when they did, they thought that just showing concern was enough. A Father commented that he felt that he should allow his children to sow their wild oats when they were young so that they wouldn’t do it when they were older. Just showing concern is not enough. “Adolescents need guidance as well as encouragement and they need to know that their parents, their relatives, and the adult network in the neighborhood are all watching them, are all concerned, and see their upbringing as a priority.” (Teenagers in Trouble, Gallagher, p 3).

I could go on about the gross negligence of the parents of Rockdale County. This documentary was an eye opening view not only of blatant unconcern by the parents of this county but also the underlying breakdown of the American family. I believe that the solution to juvenile delinquency is not more laws or greater restrictions, for rarely do these interventions work. We need to have adults who are continuously, visibly and actively present in the lives of children.

Adolescence and Puberty. Bancroft, J, Reinisch, JM. (Eds.) (1990) New York: Oxford University.

A Parent’s Handbook: Teaching Your Kids about Developing Healthy Relationships. Gallagher, R. & Liz Claiborne, Women’s Work Foundation (1998)


The Children of Rockdale, (PBS, 1999)

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