Family structure linked to crime for teens, Swedish study finds: New detailed analysis shows ‘asymmetric systems’ linked to more crime

Teens living in single-father, single-mother, father-stepmother and mother-step families are more likely to commit crimes than those who live with both of their parents, according to a new study published this week in the open-access journal do report. one more by Robert Svensson and Björn Johnson of the University of Malmö, Sweden.

Previous studies have found that not living with both parents is positively associated with delinquency, but overly simplified family living arrangements – eg, comparing living with both parents Do not live with both parents. In the new study, researchers used data from four cross-sectional surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 in southern Sweden. Self-reported information on nine delinquent behaviors – such as shoplifting, graffiti or robbing someone – as well as detailed family structure was available for 3,838 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 15.

Among all participants, those living with both mother and father or living in “symmetrical” arrangements – in which the parents live separately and share custody, but are both single or both have new partners – were more likely to were involved in crime to a lesser extent in comparison. With other family living structures. Delinquent behavior was more common among adolescents living with a single father than among adolescents living with a mother and father (incidence rate ratio) [IRR] 1.898), a single mother (IRR 1.661), a father and stepmother (IRR 1.606) or a mother and stepfather (IRR 2.044). In addition, the “asymmetric” arrangement, in which only one parent had a new partner, was associated with greater guilt. Many of the associations between family structure and delinquency decreased when adjusted for data on parental attachment and surveillance. The authors conclude that the use of a more detailed classification of family structure may shed light on contributing factors to crime.

The authors say: “This study suggests that it is important to move on to the use of more detailed classifications of family structure in relation to crime, and to increase our knowledge of the group of adolescents who are parents and, in particular, moves between different constellations.

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