General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

72% of incarcerated juveniles come from a single-parent household - What is a good explanation for this?

Asked by mattbrowne (31633points) February 22nd, 2012

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics (2004)

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Single parent households have less money for a good lawyer. There is a difference between being convicted and being guilty and between being exhonerated and being innocent.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Probably because there are 72% more single family households than two-parent households.

Pandora's avatar

I bet if you break it down some more they will find other things than just the single factor, like growing in a poor high crime area or dealing with an addict parent or abuser. Being forced to grow up too quick.
No male figure in the home. Feeling of abandonment and that no one gives a crap (and by no one, I mean the parents). Anger combined with adolescence.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt – I found this

In 2006, 12.9 million families in the US were headed by a single parent. The article doesn’t mention the total number of family households, but I would expect it to be much larger, right?

mattbrowne's avatar

And I’m just exploring the subject. There is no hidden agenda. @ragingloli made a good point. But can this explain the whole picture?

ragingloli's avatar

Considering the dependence of a trial’s outcome on the quality of the hired lawyer, this could very well be the sole reason, though there are probably other factors involved.
For example possible prejudices of judges/juries towards single parent families and their children.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The mothers were unable to afford birth control, and abortions were impossible.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’d guess a number of things, most of which are difficult to discuss without offending someone (not my intent here)

> Poorer families have a higher occurrence of single parent homes
> Minorities have a higher occurrence of single parent homes
> The poor and minorities make up the majority of those in jail
> Juveniles with one parent presumably have at least one less person who is “watching them” and in most cases one less reference for how to get along in life…
> They have one less chance at an advocate if a parent is truly absent from their life
> Single parents tend to have to work more and again have less time not only to supervise but to influence their children

Again, I’m not saying anyone is a bad parent or is hurting their children. We’re talking statistics, averages, generalizations, and cumulative totals from millions of people. It goes without saying that there are huge numbers of single parent homes that are great environments for their children, and huge numbers of kids from single parent homes that grow up to be amazing people.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Oops! I meant to say “single parent”, not “single family”, but you get the idea.

wundayatta's avatar

There are a lot of things that go together with single-parenthood: lower income, higher poverty, access to poorer schools, living in higher crime neighborhoods, poorer nutrition, less educational attainment, and on and on.

Correlation, of course, is not causation. The relationship could be spurious.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Oh come on! Single parent households aren’t that bad! They are only slightly more likely to be struggling financially. There are a lot of poor two-parent households and a lot of single parent households that are doing just fine.

I still say it’s because the majority of households nowadays are single parent households, therefore the number of convicts from each are probably about the same in proportion.

funkdaddy's avatar

Just for reference some stats regarding Family Structure and Children’s Living Arrangements

> In 2010, 66 percent of children ages 0–17 lived with two married parents, down from 77 percent in 1980.

> In 2010, 23 percent of children lived with only their mothers, 3 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived with neither of their parents.

> In 2010, 75 percent of White, non-Hispanic, 61 percent of Hispanic, and 35 percent of Black children lived with two married parents.

> The proportion of Hispanic children living with two married parents decreased from 75 percent in 1980 to 61 percent in 2010.

> Due to improved measurement, it is now possible to identify children living with two parents who are not married to each other. Four percent of all children lived with two unmarried parents in 2010.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I am really surprised that there are more two-parent households than single parent households. But I did just look up the statistics on incarcerated juveniles coming from single-parent households, and I am getting more like 57%. However, they are counting step-parents in the two-parent household statistics, and not counting them in the incarcerated juvenile statistics, so it’s hard to tell.

mattbrowne's avatar

No one said anything about single parent = bad parenting. But it must be allowed to look for root causes of such a statistic. It’s the only one I found so far, and it’s from Bureau of Justice Statistics collecting data in 2004. I’m glad to take a look at newer statistics if they exist. I’ll check out the data provided by @funkdaddy.

zensky's avatar

1. Are we talking about American stats?

2. Single parent meaning mom only?

CWOTUS's avatar

@ragingloli had an excellent point in the first post (wow, how many times in a year do I get to say that?). To add to that, a lot of single parents, fathers and mothers both, don’t get to live in the best neighborhoods any more, so there may be more opportunity for mischief for the kids, which adds to the likelihood of crime being committed, and those places also have more police, so there’s more opportunity for detection and prosecution as well.

Finally, even for a lot of dual parent families, both parents often have to work. But the difference is (and I hear this in conversations around me day after day) very often the parents tag team the kids to make sure that someone is home to greet them on their return from school (or soon after), available to stay with them on days when they have school holidays or sick days, available for extracurricular activities such as scouting, team sports, outings and school functions, and the like. A single parent usually can’t manage all that on his or her own, and just does the best she or he can. Kids need parenting, after all, and it’s a rare parent who can do “everything” for his child – and still have a suitable income-producing job.

bkcunningham's avatar

@mattbrowne, according to international figures from the US Census Bureau, in 2006 there were 10.484 million single-parent households in the US. This figure represents 28.8 percent of all households with chidren. For 2008, the latest figures available, 10.536 milliion single-parent households in the US with this figure representing 29.5 percent of all households with children.

bkcunningham's avatar

I think it seems obvious that the majority of single parents must work outside the home thus leaving children alone, with relatives or with strangers. This leaves more time for kids to get into trouble and less time for the single parent to interact with the child/children and be involved in what is going on. When you work outside the home and inside the home and are trying to raise children, it is freaking tough with support, let alone without any support.

RocketGuy's avatar

@Rarebear had done a study on parent attention vs kids’ risk taking behaviour. Seems that kids getting less attention do more risky things. That just makes it more likely they will be caught doing something illegal.

fredTOG's avatar

Well for one the DDA won’t file if he thinks he can’t win, thats why the conviction rate is 99% in most courts,“And this brings us to a point that has to be driven home with the pitiless force of a jackhammer: It is the guilty, collusive silence of good police officers that makes possible the ever-accumulating atrocities of the ‘bad’ ones.”

funkdaddy's avatar

Fortunately the 99% conviction number is a myth.

From the Federal Court Website

Excluding transfers, the federal courts concluded proceedings against 95,206 defendants, an increase of 4 percent over 2008. Of these defendants, 86,314 were convicted, a 91 percent conviction rate.

numbers for criminal cases in district courts

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My daughter works for a consulting firm, and I can attest that any study can make the statistics reflect anything they want them to reflect. I wouldn’t put too much faith in studies and statistics.

According to the statistics, people who die from smoking make up 18% of deaths. However, there is a place on the death certificate for the doctor to indicate whether the deceased was a smoker. So, if a person who smokes was hit by a train, they would be put in the statistics as a smoke-related death.

See how that works? That 18% doesn’t mean that smoking killed them. It just means that 18% of people who die were smokers. It also means that 82% of people who die weren’t smokers. So what are they really saying????

BeccaBoo's avatar

@mattbrowne Your question implies that single parent households are going to = bad parenting!

Blondesjon's avatar

Stripper Moms and “Here’s a twenty kid, find yourself somethin’ to eat.”, never-at-home Dads are simply not good parents especially when left to their own devices.

This is not to infer that all single parents fall in to either of these categories. It’s just my opinion that the single parent households that are pumping these statistical children out do.

Anybody can make a baby but not just anybody can raise one in a nurturing environment. And you know what, regardless of any type of parenting, some kids are just plain shitty.

CWOTUS's avatar


@mattbrowne is smarter than to try that… and more honest, too. He noted the apparent correlation – which seems to be a fact (depending on the source and quality of the data) – and asked the question: “What is the cause?”

He explicitly did not say “72% of single-parent children end up convicted of crime”, which would have made the implication you believe exists. He noted (again, depending on the source of the data and how it was collected, etc. – its quality) that of the juveniles in trouble with the law, a strong majority of them come from single-parent households.

It’s a completely legitimate and worthwhile question to wonder why that is.

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Nullo's avatar

Because having two parents is just that important.

mattbrowne's avatar

@zensky – Yes, the scope of the statistics was the United States in 2004 and it covers both single mothers and single fathers raising children.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bkcunningham – I totally agree that it must be very tough raising children alone ! I feel fortunate having had two parents to raise me. Same for my wife. And we raised our kids together as well. But our societies seem to change and we have to explore and analyze what this might entail.

I found a 2003 scientific article via Google Scholar called “The Presence of Fathers in Attenuating Young Male Violence” stating that data analyzed across the U.S. indicate that father absence, rather than poverty, was a strong predictor of young men’s violent behavior.

Now, this is one study and there might be other coming to different conclusions. They don’t represent my opinion. Again, I asked this question for the sole purpose of exploring the subject.

mattbrowne's avatar

@BeccaBoo – I realize that my question seems to hurt or irritate some Jellies. But @CWOTUS is absolutely right. I am merely wondering what this statistics could mean. There is a correlation, but very often causal relationships are very hard to determine. Now if social scientists investigate I think we should take a look at their findings. So far I could only find one article, see above. Maybe there isn’t a lot of research on causal relationships because it is very hard to find them and conducting large-scale social studies is expensive.

cheebdragon's avatar

How exactly are they getting this information?

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m not sure. Maybe this FAQ page helps:

“The BJS job is to collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded.”

cheebdragon's avatar

There are far more benefits to claiming a “single parent household” when it comes to the government, I just don’t see people being honest about it.

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