Re: single parents

Geoff Smith (
Sun, 15 Mar 1998 03:56:56 -0800

> From: Mark D. Fulwiler <>
> To: Extropian mailing list <>
> Subject: single parents
> Date: Sunday, March 15, 1998 6:03 PM
> "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
> > likely to commit a crime. Being the only man of the house(or woman)
> > requires added responsibilities... such a situation can make one grow
> > fast (in the positive sense) My guess is that single-parent homes
> > not the cause of a child's tendency towards criminal behaviour, but
> > 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."
> First of all, I'm sure you realize that personal anecdotes can't settle
> this issue.

Definitely. It's simply a starting point for my skepticism, not a

> I have no doubt that you and your friends are model
> citizens. But you may be unusual.

I like to think so.

> 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.

It wouldn't necesarily be a good thing, but it wouldn't necessarily
increase the crime rate, either. In fact, the crime rate would probably
drop as a result of the lower incidence of domestic violence!

> Surely that must strike you as a bit bizarre and
> counterintuitive, even without any statistical analysis.

Not in the slightest. There is a large body or evidence (sorry, like you,
no reference at the moment) that single-parenting and divorces have a
tendency of speeding up the maturation process, including accelerated
puberty, etc... I think with some minimal amount of support this would
on average create a more mature kid less prone to criminal
behaviour.(especially if that child was taking on the responsibilities of
the other parent... just look at older siblings in single parent homes,
they have a tendency to become instant-parents) Of course, going through
puberty years before your peers with no adequate support could definitely
increase the incidence of criminal behaviour... I have no doubt of that.
So, even if you can provide evidence that this phenomenon is not linked to
income, I would still be skeptical of a causal relationship between
single-parenting and criminal behaviour, since parental support is
definitely not a function of income (or at least the connection is tenous)
Thing is, how could you possibly put a value on parental support? I think
it may be difficult to show anything with statistics on this matter, or
possibly I am making this issue more complicated than it really is?