. "Violent Victimization and Offending: Individual-Situational-, and Community-Level Risk Factors." Understanding and Preventing Violence, Volume 3: Social Influences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1994.
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Understanding and Preventing Violence - Volume 3: Social Influences
fact, they found in a reanalysis of Wolfgang's (1958) Philadelphia cohort data that for white adults the father's occupational status was negatively related to violent behavior, whereas for black adults the respondent's own education level was negatively related to arrests for violence. The causal implications of these findings are not yet clear-it is possible that there is a reciprocal relationship between the social class of an adult and levels of criminality. Among juveniles this is less problematic, but it is an issue that has not yet been adequately resolved.
Family Structure and Process
There are at least three ways in which family factors have been examined in the literature on violent offending. The first pertains to the marital status of offenders. Studies of prison inmates have found that most offenders are not married (78 percent) and that white inmates are disproportionately divorced or separated. Black inmates, on the other hand, are just as likely not to be married as blacks in the general population (U.S. Department of Justice, 1988a). These findings, of course, are quite limited. We do not know whether an offender's marital status is a consequence of his or her offending behavior, and data representing the prison population may not be representative of the overall population of violent offenders. Consequently, the meaning of these findings is unclear.
Second, and more importantly, family structure and intervening "family processes" (e.g., Laub and Sampson, 1988) have been correlated with aggression and other serious criminal behaviors among children and adolescents. The relationship between juvenile delinquency and these family factors has been reviewed extensively elsewhere (see Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986), but we find that studies focusing exclusively on family factors and violent behavior are rare. This is, perhaps, to be expected given that we are focusing our discussion on those serious violent behaviors not typically engaged in by youth. Nonetheless, extant research suggests that children living in "broken" homes are slightly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors than children living in two-parent homes (Farrington and West, 1971; Wilkinson, 1980; McCord, 1982). However, the magnitude of this relationship is weak, and these results are not unanimous across adolescent subgroups or types of aggressive behaviors. Rankin (1983) also reports a small effect of family structure on fighting (children in