Family Relationships and Crime
Marriage And Crime
Although crimes within the family typically go unrecorded, violence between husband and wife accounts for a significant proportion of recorded criminal assaults and homicides. Additionally, as has been noted above, criminal parents tend to rear delinquent children. Apart from these facts, relatively little is known about the relationship of crime to marriage.
Two links between crime and age of marriage have been forged in the literature. First, several studies suggest that delinquents marry at younger ages than do nondelinquents. Second, criminality tends to decline at about the time that marriage takes place. Perhaps because of the popular belief that marriage has a settling effect, researchers have sometimes concluded that marriage reduces crime. Yet at least three accounts of the relationship between marriage and crime can be given. Delinquents may marry when they are ready to settle down, delinquents who are less criminally inclined may be more likely to many (with marriage marking no change in motivation), or marriage may produce change.
One of the few studies with information sufficient to test whether marriage has a palliative effect is by Farrington and West. They compared men who married between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one with unmarried men at age twenty-one. The two groups had similar histories to the age of eighteen. These comparisons failed to show that marriage reduces delinquency.
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