parents arguing in front of a child

Family Influences and Delinquency

Young people frequently make mistakes that can lead to legal encounters. However, poor behavior does not always happen in a vacuum. There are times when these choices are influenced by the context in which the child is found. Family can be a major influence on delinquent behavior. In this post, we will look at several family influences that can harm youths are their inclination towards delinquency. These four influences within the family are…

  • Conflict
  •  Breakup
  •  Incompetence
  •  Deviance


Conflict is part of life. However, too much strife can make the home unattractive for young people. When there is arguing and even violence within the home it can influence a youth’s behavior which can lead to delinquency. Youths who witness conflict and violence within the home often imitate this behavior as they grow older and experience similar relationship problems.


The same ideas apply in classroom settings. When students have conflicts at home it can make it difficult to focus on their studies. If the young person is angry about their family problems this can manifest itself in poor behavior in school.


Sometimes families fall apart. This could be due to conflict or other reasons. When parents separate it can have a strong influence on a young person. The frustration from one parent leaving their life and the reduced attention can lead youths to look for emotional support in other places such as gangs. Broken families may at times cause delinquency.

Within the classroom divorce and separation can have serious consequences in terms of academic performance and behavior. Students from broken families are at a greater risk of academic struggles and even dropping out.


Some parents have no real business being parents. They may struggle with setting boundaries and or enforcing those boundaries. Others may struggle with controlling their emotions when their children make mistakes. Whatever the case, parents who lack the efficacy to handle their children often create children who have no respect for authority and are inclined toward delinquent behavior.

In the classroom, it is sometimes left to the teacher to become a surrogate parent for a child in a home of parental incompetence. This is a highly challenging situation in that teachers often do not have the tools to support multiple children who are not being provided with appropriate instruction and discipline from their parents.


Another major influence of delinquency is the parent’s own criminal background. Parents who are criminals are delinquents can set an example that leads their children down the wrong path. There have been arguments that this could be genetic. Another way to look at this is from a social learning perspective in which the child adopts delinquent behavior from following the example of their own parent(s). In some cases, parents and or other relatives will teach children how to be delinquent.

Parental deviance is a difficult influence for a teacher to deal with. Most children want to be like their parents as this is generally natural. Therefore, the teacher may have to point out the result of the decisions that deviant parents have made and the ensuing consequences.


None of these influences described here appear in isolation. In other words, these influences work together to send youth down the wrong path. For teachers, it is important to be aware of these factors to provide students with the appropriate support that they need.

Leave a Reply