The Influence of Family Structure on a Child Criminal Behavior

Published 17 Feb 2017

Table of content


There are various prepositions about crime put forward in the writings of ancient and medieval philosophers, and the theology of the Protestant reform tradition and early modern legal thought all contain understandings of criminality (Carrabine et al, 2004:29). According to the social cognitive theory, an individual behavior tends to be influenced by those attitudes around him. He or she is made who they are through the influence they get from those they directly interact with form day to day, i.e. their immediate family. The Classical school argues that criminal tendency is an individual is transmissible and based on influence from family, peers, friends, and those the individual interacts with from day to day. The positivists take another angle to the argument of criminality in human.

The school has three approaches to the study of cause of crime; legal, biological, and social approach. The biological approach led by Cesare Lombrosco argues that a criminal is born criminal with biological characteristics attached to him. Those physical features associated to criminal by the positivists include long lower jaw, wide cheekbone, big ears, a twisted nose, a bushy eyebrows a receding forehead, and squinting eyes, among others (, 2006). It is believed that all criminal shares the same characteristics.

This research work tends to analyze the fact whether the family structure would influence a child criminal behavior.


  • The objectives, which this research study intends achieving, include the following:
  • To determine the influence which family structure has in the child behavior; whether criminal behavioral tendency in children is majorly influenced by the family structure?
  • To determine how far a family with a positive family structure can prevent a child from being criminal inclined.
  • To find out other variables that would influenced a child behavior to make him or her exhibit criminal behavior.
  • To determine ways of preventing a child from cultivating the negative influence and attitude that tends to make him / her criminally inclined.


The research study would access the behavioral pattern of children from different period. This would have a period span of 20 years. Here, different research subjects would be accessed from different period to see how they are influenced by their family structure in the given period.

The research study would be limited to conducting analysis on those who are selected as the research subjects, and the findings s would be generalized.


Research Design method

The survey research design would be used in conducting this research work. A survey design is a research method where data are collected from a defined population to describe the present condition of the population using the variables under study. “Survey design does more than merely uncover data. They interpret, synthesis and integrate these data and point to implications and interrelationship” (Bankole, 2003:15). Since the subject matter for this study is a social issue that affects group and the generality of people, the survey research method becomes most feasible and more appropriate in the conduct of the study.

Subjects for the study

The total population for this study would constitute a number of people drawn from different family background and those with different experience within the scope of study. Thus, both adults who would share their experience and children would be included in the subjects for the study.

Sample Size

The sample size, i.e., the number of subjects to be included for the study would comprise of 100 respondents. 20% of the respondents, constituting 20 people, would be selected from 5 years interval; i.e. 20 people each year interval with experience from 1986, 1991, 1996, 2000 and 2006. The categorization of the subjects for the study in the above giving proportion becomes appropriate, this will enable the researcher to get a wide spread of view to aid the research, and not one-loop sided view.


The quota sampling method would be used in selecting the subjects for the study. Quota sampling is a non-probability sampling method, a form of accidental sampling done in line with quota or strata in the total population. According to Odiagbe (1999:48), quota sample is selected in such a way that various components appear not only in proportion to their sizes in the target population but selection is stopped as soon as enough of the sub-group is selected. The quota sampling method is adequate for this study since there is a placement of quota selection on those to form the research respondents. In addition, quota-sampling being a non-probability method would make the selection of the respondents for the study to be easy. Anyone can be included in the group selection; so far, the number of selection does not exceed the 20-percentage ratio apportioned for each year interval.


In the course of conducting this research, both primary and secondary data would be utilized. The primary data would be generated from self-administered questionnaires to the respondents. The questionnaires would contain two sections. Sections A, would have the bio-data of the respondents, while section b would have questions relating to the study and the research questions. The questionnaires would be sent through e-mail and postal mail to reach wide areas and prevent the restriction of selecting the respondents to a particular area. This would also save cost of reaching respondents in distant areas. The choice of choosing questionnaire as instruments for data collection boils to the fact that it would allow for ease in data collection and position the respondent in a calm atmosphere, devoid of threat and victimization when giving answers to the questions. Also would be secrecy and protection of respondent privacy when questionnaires are administered. Linkert 5 scale measurement would be used to grade the answers given by the respondents.


This research study will look at the ‘Family Structure: Its Influence in the Criminal Behavior in Children’. The independent variable in this research topic is ‘Family structure’, while the dependent variable is ‘Criminal behavior in children’. To operationalize this topic, it is seen that criminal behavior in children depends or is influenced by the family structure which the child/ children are exposed to. The family structure here has to do with those variables and pattern of coexistence established in the family. Variables as aggression, intolerance, wife or child bartering, violence and tendencies to commit crime, etc. all these factors tend to influence the upbringing of the child or children in this family thereby leading to criminal behavior in them. On the other hand a family that has positive family structure with variables such as religious and the fear of God, humility and observance of peace, tendency to obey state rules and regulations, readiness to forgive, patience, jovial and having human pity and feelings etc. A child under the above-mentioned family structure would be nurtured and the likelihood for him or her cultivating criminal behavior would be less than a child in the former family structure mentioned.


The questionnaire would be the data-collecting instrument. This data-collecting instrument is very effective and reliable as it gives accurate result whenever it is put into use. The reliability of the data collecting instrument is very high compare to other means of collecting data; it is easy and gives the respondents the relax atmosphere of giving accurate answer to questions asked.
The validity of the data collection instrument is high. Here, the answer to be derived from the use of questionnaire is valid and this goes to show an accurate result.
Thus, in measuring the dependent and independent variables through the validity and reliability of the data collection instrument the measurement for this research topic would be reliable and valid.


The ethical considerations to be put in place in the course of conducting this research work include the following:

  • The data for the research work would not be falsified. Hence, it would be generated based on the actual response the respondents give.
  • the privacy of the respondents would be protected; any given information would only be utilized for the conducting the research study.
  • All used secondary data would be adequately referenced in order to prevent plagiarism.
  • The research work and findings would be carried out not with the intension of victimizing anyone, but for purely academic purposes.


  • Bankole, A.R. (2003), research methods: an introductory approach. Lagos: Adeshina Print Production & Publication
  • Carrabine, Eamonn et al (2004), Criminology: A Sociological Introduction. New York: Routledge
  • Odiagbe, Martin (1999), A Handbook of Research Methods, Seminar Presentation & Term paper writing. Lagos: Win Computer System.
  • (2006), “Introduction to Criminology”
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