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Poor parenting not to blame for crime

Saturday, August 11, 2018

For far too long there has been a misconception going around, even a core conviction, that children come into this world much like a formless lump of clay for want of a better description. It is believed by many politicians, religious leaders and others in authority that parents have a primary responsibility to somehow shape that lump of clay, to mould it into an emotionally stable, well-adjusted, mannerly person.

Parents are constantly blamed for not raising their children properly or for being absent and as a result, have caused an increase in violent and heinous crimes. Studies have increasingly found children come into this world with different temperaments. Any parent of more than one child recognises that each offspring is unique. From the cradle, an infant’s temperament has a considerable impact on how his parents treat him.

In a sense, the child raises the parent as well as vice versa.

I am not making a case for a person being a “bad seed” or born a criminal. Research findings increasingly suggest and point to the fact that there are genetic components to criminality. This does not mean that parents have no responsibility for how their children turn out. Parents still have a responsibility to nurture, guide and educate their offspring.

Parents who are abusive, neglectful, inconsistent and psychologically disturbed are likely to have an adverse impact on their offspring. However, this is not to say that, invariably, their children become perpetrators of heinous crimes. Fortunately, most boys and girls who suffer abuse do not become criminals.

It is striking to observe that some criminals are the sons and daughters of parents who are devoted, stable and responsible. Unfortunately, the best efforts of parents to help and correct this kind of child can and usually do fail. As it turns out, the parents are usually the victims, the child the victimizer, not the other way around. There are many people in jail on fraud and other criminal charges who came from good homes with devoted and hard-working parents.



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