single parents

Mark D. Fulwiler (
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 18:03:30 -0800

"Geoff Smith" <> wrote:

> I think this is a correlation/causation question. I also come from a
> single parent home(although I'm not truly single-parented, does that make a
> difference?), and know many others, and all of us I would say are *less*
> likely to commit a crime. Being the only man of the house(or woman)
> requires added responsibilities... such a situation can make one grow up
> fast (in the positive sense) My guess is that single-parent homes are
> not the cause of a child's tendency towards criminal behaviour, but instead
> they are a side-effect of the real cause. For example, I would like to
> know how many single parent homes there are in lower income families, or in
> lower income neighborhoods. I would also be interested to know if the
> details of the child ending up with only one parent are significant...
> possibly a child with a parent that has died has a different tendency
> towards criminal behaviour than a child whose parents divorced? Anyway, my
> point is: I think it is ridiculous to say that single-parent homes
> influence criminal behaviour without much more evidence than "there are
> lots of single-parent kids in jail."
> Geoff.

First of all, I'm sure you realize that personal anecdotes can't settle
this issue. I have no doubt that you and your friends are model
citizens. But you may be unusual. I, unfortunately, cannot cite specific
statistical studies at this time. (I know there are a lot of them,
however, and I will try to look them up when I have more time.) However,
if my memory is correct, there is a strong correlation between
criminality and coming from a single parent home, even if the parent is
not poor. If anyone on the list can help me out with these statistics, I
would appreciate it. I would be flabbergasted if, as you suggest, kids
from two parent families are more likely to commit crimes. However, if
you can prove it, knock me over! If your argument is correct, then it
would be a good thing for kids if all fathers dropped dead immediately
after insemination. Surely that must strike you as a bit bizarre and
counterintuitive, even without any statistical analysis.