It is fair to say that youth crime, especially those committed by young men, is one of the biggest challenges the UK is current facing never mind Brexit, Exit, Bre-in or whatever name they tag it these days.
According to the Ministry of Justice (2017), 97% of all prisoners in England and Wales are males. Among this group, there are 14,932 young adults (aged 18–24) currently in prison in England and Wales—they account for almost a fifth of the total prison population. In other words, 1 in 5 prisoners in England and Wales are between 18 to 24 years. Furthermore, black or ethnic minority childrenand young people made up 18% of the 10 to 17 year olds in prison. This means almosttwo in every five children in custody are from a black or minority ethnic background. In all these figures, the overwhelming majority are males. Considering these prison statistics, one can only imagine what our future looks like as a country.
Many reasons have been given for this bleak situation. These reasons are usually directed at the family and particularly homes without fathers. Although this may sound unfair as other factors are at play, for example, unemployment, negative friends, and poor academic achievement, the family is seen as the place where the child is taught moral values that govern society. Simply put: Home is where the journey begins.
Some people argue that the reason for the high numbers of youth crime is because young people are not raised properly partly due to absent fathers, and they adopt their own subculture. Subculture means that young people essentially make up their own norms and values(rules) and aspirations. So, for example, while the law-abiding citizens think getting education qualifications and eventually a job is the key to success, some youths (especially young men) believe selling drugs is acceptable because it pays more than most regular jobs and it is quick money, despite the fact that it is illegal. So how young men are raised, especially in single parent homes headed by females and without male supervision is detrimental to their upbringing.
Another reason why absent fathers is seen as one of the biggest reasons for the high crime rate and imprisonment of young men is because you need a man and a woman to raise a child. Some scholars believe that young people especially young black men raised by single mothers are not well trained because a single mum by herself cannot properly raise a man. Although this reason is very controversial and possibly unfair on single parents who have raised responsible young men who are doing well in society, the statistics support these academics. The research studies have consistently found that young men from single parent homes are more likely to fail at school, get into a criminal lifestyle and eventually end up in prison. Hence, we can’t deny the link between single parents and wayward children. Having said that, statistics can be deceiving because it is even possible that some of those young men left home at an early age before they started offending so they didn’t live with their mum.
Lastly, without fathers in the homes, there are certain disciplinary patterns males miss out on. Young men turn to model themselves after their fathers, especially those behaviours that they admire about them. For example, if their fathers treat their mums well, they can copy this trait and treat women with respect. It is no surprise that sometimes those who witness their fathers abusing women also end up copying that negative behaviour. From a young age, children learn what they see in the home.
In all this, we can’t deny that the absence of fathers is causing havoc to society. I believe that since it takes two people to produce children, it also takes two people to raise them. We need the mother’s affection and the father’s discipline. I’m not saying children from two-parent families are always well raised and never get into trouble with the law. However, Fathers play an important role in raising children.
I believe there is hope. I believe that men will be more responsible in our generation and look after our children. I’ve observed many young men making an effort to care for their children for a period of time, for example weekend visits. That’s a good start. We’ll get there.
Happy Father’s Day to all the men out there who are taking responsibility for their children irrespective of their relationship with their partners or ex-partners. Let’s keep striving.