The Sociology of Crime and Delinquency

By Marvin E. Wolfgang; Leonard Savitz et al. | Go to book overview

45. Parental Affection and Delinquency
ROBERT G. ANDRYIN ESSENCE, THE TECHNIQUE USED IN THIS STUDY was personal individual interviewing (conducted by means of a formal interview-questionnaire) of a test sample of delinquent boys and a control sample of non-delinquent boys. The need for a control group is obviously necessary if the study was to highlight uniquely delinquent traits. Without a control group there would be no means of knowing which revealed traits were uniquely delinquent and which were common to both delinquents and non-delinquents.The Samples. Each consisted of 80 boys, and group-matching of the samples was made in respect of the following characteristics:
i. geographical location--confined to London "delinquency areas";
ii. age of boys-confined to those aged 12- 15 years;
iii. intelligence quotient--confined to those with I.Q.s between 80 and 125 (thus excluding mental defectives);
iv. mental state--confined to non-neurotics and non-psychopaths;
v. socio-economic characteristics--confined to boys from working-class homes (from whence the bulk of delinquents come);
vi. family background--confined to boys from unbroken homes.
The delinquent samples consisted solely of recidivist thieves (rare cases, such as sex offenders and incendiarists, were excluded from the sample) from a Remand Home. The non-delinquents sample consisted of boys from two adjacent Secondary Modern Schools.In each sample a sub-sample of 30 boys was selected and both their parents interviewed.The Questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to test a series of hypotheses covering a number of wide areas of the boys' life experiences (primarily of the boys' perceptions of their parents' roles). The same questionnaire with necessary modifications of phrasing was used on the parents of the two sub-samples of 30 boys.The Fieldwork. The fieldwork was carried out as follows:
i. all delinquent boys, and the parents of the 30 boys in the sub-sample, were interviewed at Remand Home;
ii. all non-delinquent boys were interviewed at their respective schools and the parents of the 30 boys in the sub-sample were interviewed at their homes.

Analysis of the Results. The results from the 80 boys in each sample were subjected to tests for significant inter-sample differences by means of the Chi-square test at the 5% level of confidence. The results from certain questions in each area of life covered by the questionnaire were cross-analysed to give a summary code for the given area--which summarized the main findings of the area. The answers of the parents of each of the two sub-samples of 30 boys were cross-analysed with those of the boys in the sub-samples to give parent-child agreement codes--which indicated the degree of agreement between the answers of the parents and boys.

This portion of the book is concerned with measuring the child's perception of his parents' affection for him with a view to establishing what differences, if any, occur between delinquents and non-delinquents. The factors studied here are obviously central to the author's intention to examine the effective roles of both parents and also represents an endeavour to test aspects of the validity of the theory that "maternal deprivation" is of prime significance in the aetiology of delinquency.

____________________
▶SOURCE: Delinquency and Parental Pathology, London: Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1960, pp. 117-119, 25-39, 127-130. (Editorial adaptations.)

-342-

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