• The socialization of the urban, black, male delinquent in a low-income, single parent, female-headed household

      Neverdon-Merritt, Michal; Belcher, John R. (1996)
      Juvenile delinquency has been declared a widespread social problem. Statistics show that low-income, black male juveniles have higher rates of involvement in delinquent activities than white male, white female and black female juveniles. Family structure (i.e., one parent vs two parent families) has been related to juvenile delinquency. Some researchers have argued that juveniles from single parent families (specifically families headed by females) are more vulnerable to delinquent activities than those of two parent families. There are limited entries, past and current, that directly relate to single parenting and its influence on juvenile recidivism. The purpose of this qualitative "grounded" theory field study was to explore and describe the effects of mother son interaction patterns on the black male delinquent (ages 10-17). Open ended interviews were conducted with each mother son dyad (N = 11) in three rounds of data collection. Interviews were conducted in the homes of the families. The constant comparative method of data collection and analysis was used, concepts and themes were identified, systematically linked, negotiated and refined into working hypotheses. The working hypotheses were negotiated to develop "grounded" theory. The results indicate that black male juveniles who are continuously encouraged by their single mothers to be "independent" tend to exhibit aggressive behavior and have a pessimistic outlook on life. The mothers' expectations of independence for their sons are based on the following factors: (a) mothers' own childhood experiences and socialization process; (b) mothers' interactions with male partners; (c) mothers' perceptions of sons; and (d) mothers' emotional well-being and religious/philosophical outlook on life. The sons' aggressive behaviors and pessimistic outlook on life are related to: (a) their perceptions of their parents and interactions with mothers; and (b) their support from their extended family and community. Implications of these findings include recommendations for policy, research and direct practice within the social work profession and various helping professions in the community. Significant findings indicated that "juvenile delinquency is a community problem." The educational system, the juvenile justice system, mental health centers and others need to coordinate their services for youth. All agencies would benefit from having social workers develop and implement programs.