I blame the parents!

I blame the parents!

Popular media coverage often lays the blame for youth problems at the feet of parents. New report shows that contrary to received opinion, parents actually take greater interest in what their kids are up to now and monitor their activities more.

You know what it's like, you turn on a radio phone-in show or watch some soapbox commentator on TV talk about the rise of 'anti-social crime' or 'youths misbehaving' and you don't have to listen longer than two minutes before someone embarks on a hysterical rant with 'you gotta ask, where are the parents?' and starts whinging about the 'DeCl1Ne oF f@mILee VaLeWs!1!!!1!'.

It's nearly always a way of skirting around either messy complex social issues or avoiding real problems like unemployment, poverty, poor housing, and lack of amenities, because at the end of the day, it's all the parents' fault.

A recent report by the Nuffield Foundation shows that in fact parents now take more interest in their kids and monitor their whereabouts considerably. The study found no evidence that more parents were failing to control their children.

The report focused on "monitoring and control, involvement, support and ‘quality time’ with children." because these were the aspects most commonly debated in relation to parental influence on behaviour problems in teenagers, and was motivated by to follow-up earlier surveys that showed "parent-rated problems (e.g. lying, stealing, or disobedience) in the UK rose through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, leveling-out and falling slightly in the 2000s."

While many aspects of family situations have changed in the last 3 or 4 decades (24% single-parent families now compared to 8% in 1970s; co-habiting is more common than in the 1970s, and divorce peaked in the 90s), poor behaviour was experienced at similar levels in 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s by married, single-parent, and step-parent families. So the study focused on parenting.

It used two sets of UK nationally representative data enabling them to compare data on 16yr olds from 1986-2006 - the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and the ‘Youth Trends’ study.

The study authors reported: Parents and teenagers are choosing to spend more quality time together than 25 years ago, with 70% of young people regularly spending time with their mothers in 2006 compared to 62% in 1986. For fathers, the figure had increased from 47% to 52%.

Fewer teenagers were likely to be out-late without parents knowing and although in the 1980s lone-parents and 'poor' were significantly less-likely to know where their teenagers were after 9pm than 'two-parent' or 'not-poor' families, these differences had disappeared by 2005.
The proxys used in previous studies for class are unsatisfactory ('poor'/'not poor' and 'advantaged'/'not advantaged') but do at least take into account some measure of economic and social circumstance.

The BBC coverage picked up on other aspects: "70% of young people were regularly spending time with their mothers in 2006 compared to 62% in 1986 - and the time spent with fathers had risen from 47% to 52%."

Unsurprisingly, the research does not draw any radical conclusions about the causes of youth 'problem behaviour'. Nowhere are explicit discussions of class taken into account although elements do hint that it is salient, notably increase in depression among parents in low-income families - 50% depression increase in parents from the poorest families between 1986 and 2006.

What can really be concluded from the study? Not a huge amount, but it does shut up all the whinging twats on radio phone-ins who moan about 'bad parenting' every time a youth is arrested.

"On balance, it thus seems extremely unlikely that the time trends in rates of youth problem behaviour that we described at the outset could be accounted for by a decline in the general quality of parenting."

Full report PDF: 'TIME TRENDS IN PARENTING AND OUTCOMES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE'

Posted By

Choccy
Aug 1 2009 00:57

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Steven.
Aug 1 2009 21:20

I don't think this study will shut anyone up I'm afraid.

Also, I don't think your conclusion follows from the evidence.

Firstly, I just want to say that I don't think bad parenting causes crime. Most crime is caused by the fact we live in a society where we are conditioned to lust after material possessions and personal power. And we have an economic system which means most people have no power, and are unable to afford lots of these material possessions.

However, that's not the only factor, because most poor people don't commit crime.

And those ones that do, often start when they're young, and dysfunctional family is often an important factor.

That study doesn't say that bad parenting doesn't contribute to criminal behaviour. What it suggests is that parenting in general is getting better. Of course, crime has also been falling since 1986, so while only a correlation (and so not indicative of any sort of causation) this certainly doesn't count any suggestion that bad parenting contributes to crime.

My work is closely related to dysfunctional families, and young people who commit antisocial behaviour or offending. And the majority of them are poor, but also come from completely broken homes. Domestic violence, neglect, physical and sexual abuse is extremely prevalent, as are parents or elder siblings for example who commit crime and antisocial behaviour themselves.

This is not surprising - people who are brutalised themselves often go on to brutalise others.

Steven.
Aug 1 2009 21:21

PS is that photo of an organise! day out?

Choccy
Aug 1 2009 22:27
Steven. wrote:
I don't think this study will shut anyone up I'm afraid.

Also, I don't think your conclusion follows from the evidence.

My conclusion? What was my conclusion?

Choccy wrote:
What can really be concluded from the study? Not a huge amount

I summarized the study and said it should shut up people who complain about 'bad parenting' all the time. I mean, I don't think it will, it was more a rhetorical rant in that bit.

And yeah, in no way did I deny that bad parenting can contribute to anti-social behaviour, more that there's no evidence that parenting has got any worse generally, which is what wankers on phone-ins rant about. That's what the study says, and what I said after reading it.

Steven.
Aug 1 2009 22:35

Well, your conclusion was that it should shut up people who complain about bad parenting.

But that research doesn't suggest that bad parenting doesn't contribute to crime just that parenting in general is getting better. Which, seeing falling crime rates, would appear to suggest there is a link.

So I guess the main issue is that people believe that crime is rising, and that parenting is getting worse. But this is due to misrepresentation of the actual state of affairs in reality by the media. This one study, unfortunately will not stop the media constantly banging on about " the decline of the family", as, with immigrants, it is a useful scapegoat to blame society's problems on.

That being the case, people will still believe it, and people will still say stupid shit on phoneins.

Of course, if you get into an argument with someone in the pub or whatever you can reference this study as evidence that you're right. But that's about it...

Choccy
Aug 1 2009 22:48
Steven. wrote:
Well, your conclusion was that it should shut up people who complain about bad parenting.
Choccy wrote:
I summarized the study and said it should shut up people who complain about 'bad parenting' all the time. I mean, I don't think it will, it was more a rhetorical rant in that bit.
steven wrote:
But that research doesn't suggest that bad parenting doesn't contribute to crime just that parenting in general is getting better. Which, seeing falling crime rates, would appear to suggest there is a link.

Nor does the study claim to settle once and for all whether 'bad parenting' contributes to crime, just that there's no evidence that parenting has got worse. See the main 'take-home point' in italics in the blog post above.

Quote:
So I guess the main issue is that people believe that crime is rising, and that parenting is getting worse. But this is due to misrepresentation of the actual state of affairs in reality by the media. This one study, unfortunately will not stop the media constantly banging on about " the decline of the family", as, with immigrants, it is a useful scapegoat to blame society's problems on.

That being the case, people will still believe it, and people will still say stupid shit on phoneins.

Of course, if you get into an argument with someone in the pub or whatever you can reference this study as evidence that you're right. But that's about it...

Well yeah, I wasn't seriously suggesting every ill-informed knob would actually shut up.

Steven.
Aug 1 2009 22:52

Yeah. It is good to see actual evidence of that, unfortunately I just don't think it will make any difference, because facts don't really matter.

Refused
Aug 3 2009 13:10

Echoing Steven., the tons of research into entertainment (music/video games/films/tv) and it's effects on children's behaviour doesn't stop people/the media blaming these things for bad behaviour either.

Choccy
Aug 3 2009 16:20
Refused wrote:
Echoing Steven., the tons of research into entertainment (music/video games/films/tv) and it's effects on children's behaviour doesn't stop people/the media blaming these things for bad behaviour either.

yep, and again
Choccy wrote:
I summarized the study and said it should shut up people who complain about 'bad parenting' all the time. I mean, I don't think it will, it was more a rhetorical rant in that bit.