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Personality correlates of criminals: A comparative study between normal controls and criminals
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If both parents have criminal records, then the probability of the son having a serious criminal record was almost 67 percent, well above that for either parent individually, pointing to a substantial multiplier-interaction effect between the parents. The results for female children are generally similar to males in their broad patterns, although the individual probabilities are lower for each parental-crime profile.
Where neither parent had a criminal record, the probability of their daughter having no criminal record was Where there was a father with a criminal record and a mother without a criminal record, the probability of the daughter having no criminal record dropped to If the daughter had a father without a criminal record and a mother with a criminal record, these probabilities were If both the parents had criminal records, there was a Taken as a whole, these probabilities paint a general picture that, as might be expected, the worst case scenario for a young person in terms of future criminal behaviour is where both parents have criminal histories of their own and the best case scenario is where neither parent has a criminal record.
However, the analysis also suggests a father with a criminal past and a 'cleanskin' mother no criminal record are more likely to have a greater adverse influence on sons and daughters than families where the father has no record and the mother has offended. The dynamics of how a parent without a criminal record moderates the impact of a parent with a criminal history warrants further research. Consistent with the Cambridge Study and the Pittsburgh Youth Study, the results from this Tasmanian study suggest that the children of parents with a criminal record have a much greater likelihood of becoming involved in crime themselves than the children of parents who do not have a criminal record.
However, a child born into a family where both parents had a criminal record had a fairly low probability of escaping a criminal record These probabilities are likely to be an underestimate of the likelihood that the offspring of criminal parents in the study will have a criminal record for a serious offence.
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However, the results of this study extend beyond those in the existing literature in a number of ways. The major contribution of this study is to explore the role of gender in the intergenerational transfer of criminality by examining the influence of maternal criminality in addition to paternal criminality and by examining whether the influence of parental criminality varies according to the gender of the offspring children. The current study population differs to previous studies because it focuses on known criminal families ie families with a known history of intergenerational offending over at least 3 generations rather than 'at risk' youth samples or first generation offenders.
Further, the impact of offence seriousness and the impact of offending continuity across the generations is explored. It is demonstrated that the offspring of parents with a conviction for a serious offence are at a much higher risk of subsequent involvement in serious crime. The main policy implication from this study is not new—the children of criminal parents are at greater risk of offending, particularly when there is a significant offence history and serious offences have been committed. This suggests that some form of intervention specifically targeting these families is needed to break the cycle of crime.
There is evidence that a gene—environment interaction is at play in the intergenerational transmission of offending, most recently illustrated by the research findings of De Lisi et al. Intervention programs that target criminal parents with the aim of improving parenting practices and family functioning, and that work to increase the resilience of children appear to offer the most promise in addressing child and family environmental risk factors Farrington et al.
There are effective family-based intervention program models in Australia that could be targeted towards known crime families. One such program is the Intensive Supervision Program operating in Western Australia, targeting both parents and children. This program utilises the intensive family-based multisystemic therapy treatment model that was originally developed in the United States to treat serious juvenile offenders Schoenwald et al.
Similarly, the Family Independence Program that formed part of the Pathways to Prevention project implemented in Queensland is likely to reduce the risk of criminal behaviour see Homel et al. As noted above, it is important when developing interventions to prevent criminal behaviour that care is taken not to label the children as 'offenders' or 'criminals' and to address such perceptions the children may have already developed, if a program is to be successful in reducing the risk of the intergenerational risk of offending.
Finally, several important questions still remain, partly reflecting the research design of this study. The data analyses and modelling focused on two demographic variables gender and family membership and one criminological variable criminal history of individuals and their parents. Such characteristics could usefully be included in further research into the impact of living in a family where there is strong intergenerational criminal behaviour. Crime families: Gender and the intergenerational transfer of criminal tendencies.
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Adam Tomison Director Extensive research in criminology has established that criminality, or criminal offending, can be transmitted through generations within families. However, having an arrested father was not an independent predictor for the delinquency of the boys after controlling for the following eight explanatory variables: having a young mother aged 17 years or less at the time of first birth ; African—American ethnicity; living in a neighbourhood rated as bad based on Census data on family income, the number of single parent, female-headed households and the percentage of persons aged 10—14 years ; low guilt of the boy ie lack of remorse ; over average age for the given school grade reflecting low achievement and being held back a grade ; hyperactivity problems; a depressed mood; and the mother's use of physical punishment Farrington et al.
The mediating role of parenting A key theme examined in the literature on intergenerational continuity in offending and other problematic behaviour is the mediating role played by parenting. Explaining the intergenerational transmission of criminality Farrington et al. Assortative mating—the tendency of male offenders to cohabit with, or marry, female offenders was evident in both the Pittsburgh Youth Study and the Cambridge Study Farrington et al.
Offending may be concentrated in families because children model their behaviour on their parents or siblings, or because they are actively recruited into crime by their parents or siblings.
Crime families: Gender and the intergenerational transfer of criminal tendencies
Criminal parents may have some genetic predisposition towards criminal behaviour which is transmitted to their children. Moffitt reviewed over quantitative studies of antisocial behaviour and concluded that genes account for about half of the population variance in antisocial behaviour. Efforts to identify potential sources of genetic risk are proving fruitful.
Current study The concentration of offending in 16 multi-problem families in Tasmania was examined by psychiatrist Dr Eric Cunningham Dax in the early s. Methodology This study primarily involved data collection within a number of state government agencies to develop a profile of six extended families with an offending history spanning several generations.