The Family's Impact on Crime and Deviance Among College Students

Joseph H. Rankin, Eastern Michigan University
Roger M. Kern, Eastern Michigan University

While parental monitoring of children's behaviors (direct controls) probably diminishes over time from pre-adolescence to young adulthood, in a relative sense college students living at home are probably controlled socially to a greater extent by their parents than their residential college student counterparts. Students who have moved out of the home to attend college have a greater amount of freedom, independence, and relative lack of controls -- "freeing" them from parental restrains to commit deviance. Similarly, we argue that young adults (college students) living with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse have greater family attachments or constraints, resulting in less self-reported crime and deviance than among college students living alone or with a roommate. We find support for these hypotheses among a sample of 800 Midwestern college students. While the effect of parental attachments may be diminished by young adulthood, "living arrangements" while attending college appears relevant to the likelihood of self-reported crime. The implications of this research and its possible relevance to campus crime are discuseed.

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Updated 05/20/2006