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I stated in my rationale that I wanted to find out if there was any correlation between anti social behaviour amongst youths from low economic backgrounds and single parent families. I have collected a range of data through my research with questionnaires. When analysing my data I noticed some trends in the people committing crimes and engaging in anti social behaviour. Part of my aim was to look at people from working class backgrounds to see if class is a factor in a person engaging In anti social behaviour.

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When looking at the types of people committing anti social behaviour, I categorised them into working class, single parent families and professional background. I defined working class as people who’s parent were unemployed or with non professional background and receiving free school meals. This allowed me to understand whether the theory of anomie by Merton and Durkheim was related to my participants. My aim also included looking at people from single parent families to see if this is a factor in a child engaging in anti social behaviour, relating to Millers theory.

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To ensure my research explored this area, my questionnaire asked whether participants were part of a nuclear family or single parent family and if so which parent they lived with. Participants are also asked to state their sex, as millers theory stated that ‘males’ from single parent families engage in anti social behaviour because of the lack of a male role model. In order to asses how much anti social behaviour each person did as part of the questionnaire there was a varied list of several anti social behavioural crimes for which participants had to tick if they had engaged in any.

This enabled me to see which of the participants would be classed as anti social. The results from the questionnaire are displayed in the graphs below, which shows the amount of anti social behaviour committed by youths from single parent families compared to that of those from nuclear families, and the amount of crime committed by youths from working class families compared to that of those from professional backgrounds.

As can be seen in the graphs anti social behaviour such as littering or spitting gum in the street is common amongst all youths, but those who engaged in more serious anti social behaviour such as underage smoking, drinking and even drug use, were mainly from working class or single parent backgrounds. In comparison to people from nuclear families and professional background youths from single parent families and working class backgrounds committed far more crimes, however a contributing factor to the crimes they commit may be the area in which they live.

A selection of varied crimes were put in the questionnaire and participants were asked to select the ones they knew took place within their area this helped me in seeing their class, as working class areas have high crime rates also it enabled to understand that it may affect the amount of anti social behaviour they committed. The graph below shows the types of crimes that happen within the areas of the working class, professional, single parent and nuclear families.

The graph above shows that mainly working class youths live in areas of high crime, where theft mugging, drug use, car jacking and even murder takes place. Whereas youths from professional and nuclear families live in areas where crime is low or moderate and although the crime rate for single parent families seems to be higher than professional and nuclear it is moderately low. The high crime rate in working class areas could be a contributing factor for why they engage in anti social behaviour, as they might be easily strayed.

However this doesn’t seem to apply to youths from single parent families, as they seem to live in lower areas of crime, but still commit similar amounts of crime as working class youths. Instead the reason for the high amount of youths from single parent families committing anti social behaviour could relate to Miller’s theory that juvenile delinquency comes about because of a lack of a positive male role model who could display economic power through their earning potential.

This was evident as when looking at the family structure of the participants, I noticed that most single parents families lived with their mother although in the case of two single parent families, the participants lived with their father. In these cases there was a noticeable difference in anti social behaviour that they engaged in from those living with their mothers. There was also a clear difference generally with the amount of crimes committed amongst males compared to females, with anti social behaviour being more common amongst males.

A further difference was noticed amongst males from single parent families who were working class living with their mother compared with other participants, this again seems relate to Millers theory, the graph below illustrates this. It is clear from the graph that Millers theory can be applied to my participants as in all crimes committed working class males from single parent families committed more than other participants. Miller explains that lower- class search for expressions of masculinity, excitement and fun finds expression in law breaking, this might apply to my participants.

As my aim focused on the influence of family background on a child’s behaviour, I looked at other causes from within a family which may encourage anti social behaviour. In my questionnaire I asked whether anyone in their family had a criminal record, and whether it was for a serious or petty crime. The graph below shows the percentage of anti social behaviour committed by those with family members who have a criminal record compared to those whose family members don’t. There are separate graphs for petty and serious crime.

I also found that the people who had a family member with a criminal record for serious crime were usually from working class background, with non-professional occupational backgrounds, and generally lived in areas of higher crime, and of those people all had engaged in serious anti social behaviour such as drug use, shop lifting and assault. Although this was not evident with all cases, as some people with a criminal record, as some who had committed petty crime were from areas in which crime seemed moderate.

The general trend however seemed to show that people who had family members with a criminal record for serious crime, had engaged in more anti social behaviour. This could relate to Wilson and Herrnstein (1985) study, where they explain that people are more likely to be socialised into acceptable behaviour in their childhood by their family. So for someone in a family where another person has a criminal record they may have been socialised in a way that anti social behaviour is acceptable. In conclusion from my findings it is clear that youths from single parent and working class families engage in more anti social behaviour.

There also seems to be particularly high levels of anti social behaviour from males who live in single parent working class families, this can be related to studies discussed earlier. However research was not conducted as to the reasons for why a higher amount of anti social behaviour is committed by this proportion of the population. 1211 words Evaluation The aim of my investigation was to find out whether a person is more likely to commit anti social behaviour if they are from working class background. I used questionnaires to collect relevant data, which I was then able to analyse and relate to my previous research.

Although my research provided some valid data providing in depth analysis, when sampling for my questionnaires I felt a wider selection of participants might have been needed, as my sample was concentrated within one school where pupils are of similar status and class, I feel that if I had used a variety of schools of different status it would have produced more representative data which could be applied more youths. Reliability is an issue for all investigations and I feel my research did produce some reliable data.

However in some cases participants may have lied in answering the questionnaire because they may have been ashamed of crimes they had committed or on the contrary they may have wanted to look good when filling it out in front of their friends and lied about crimes in which they hadn’t committed. Also as my research included looking at working class people, I had to categorise participant according to their parent’s occupation and whether they received free school meals. However in some cases my judgement may not have been correct, and I might have looked at other factors in classing them such as the type of area they lived in.

This might have provided invalid research. As mentioned in the methodology I recognise the importance of ethics in carrying out research. Before distributing my questionnaires I ensured that the wording of questions had been structured in a way so it did not appear offensive to anybody, I did this by researching different questionnaire structures before hand. Also I made it clear to all participants before partaking in my investigation that they were under no obligation to answer any questions that they did not feel comfortable answering.

My research followed my rationale well in proving that working class and single parent families engaged in more anti social behaviour. However due to my chosen method of research it did not provide reasons as to why they engaged in anti social behaviour. Instead I was only able to assume that the theories I had researched applied to my participants however my research did not prove these theories. With regard to my findings, I think it would be possible to improve this research by selecting a wider sample of people from different areas so it produced a more representative group.

Also to produce more qualitative research I would further select a proportion of the questionnaire participants who engaged in snit social behaviour, with some being from working class background and others from single parent families. Then conduct an in depth structured interview aiming to find out why the participants engaged in anti social behaviour to see if they related to the theories discussed in my context.


Kruttschitt, C & McLeod, J. (1994) ‘Does Parenting Explain the Effects of Conditions on Children’s Antisocial Behaviour? A Comparison of Blacks and Whites. ‘ http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk

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Kylie Garcia

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