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Family risk factors for juvenile delinquency

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense, Family Law |

Juvenile delinquency can develop via numerous pathways. While biological, social and environmental issues contribute to bad behavior patterns, the primary trigger typically stems from issues surrounding the family.

A few of the most common risk factors include family structure, size and internal influences.


Children and teenagers of divorced parents are more likely to struggle with antisocial and non-compliant behaviors. Establishing the specific effect on a child is difficult due to simultaneously occurring negative events such as:

  • Inadequate parenting practices
  • Family conflict or violence
  • Fewer economic resources
  • A parent’s subsequent remarriage

Not all children from broken homes become criminals. Adults who effectively co-parent, remain alert to the signs of distress and actively engage in important conversations are less likely to navigate the justice system with their adolescents.

Family size

Statistically, children from large families are at a greater risk of breaking the law than their counterparts from smaller families. The larger the family, the less-likely parents can provide full-time supervision for each minor child. Therefore, there are more opportunities for juveniles to make poor decisions and commit crimes.

Sibling influence

Parents often worry about peer influences affecting their children’s behavior, but the closest motivations for acting out come from within the home. Compared to nonoffenders, highly delinquent teens are more likely to have siblings who also broke the law. Specifically, older brothers and sisters can reinforce antisocial behavior in younger siblings.

Understanding the influence of the family on misbehaving youth is essential to targeting the underlying issues and implementing an early intervention plan.

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