Is crime a parenting issue?

I recently heard a speech which compared raising a child to building a house. The foundation and the materials used in the construction stage determine if the structure will remain intact in the face of fire or storm.

This left me wondering: ‘Is South Africa’s high crime rate due to bad parenting?’

It might be a cheap shot to always blame parents when their children turn into a menace to society. But if we do not blame the parents of criminals for unleashing their mistakes on the unsuspecting public then who should face the heat? The government? Poverty? Inequalities? Greed? The economic downturn? Unemployment? Laziness?  

How is it that millions out there are facing the same tough situation but are not resorting to crime?

I sometimes wonder what goes on through the minds of parents, whose offspring will have committed a hideous crime, dishonouring the family name. Are these parents ever haunted by a sense of failure or a feeling that that they didn’t do enough to protect their child from developing a warped conscience.

Would such parents defend themselves by saying, ‘Well, we’re 100% sure that we did our best to raise that child to grow up into an upright and responsible adult. We taught him to respect other people and to value life. When we realised that he was hanging with the wrong crowd, we did all in our power to rescue him from the corrupting influence of bad company.

‘We ensured that he got the basic education so that when he grew up he wouldn’t turn to crime. To help him thrive we gave him a loving home environment where he got all the parental guidance he needed. We taught him good morals, which we hoped he’d keep for life. We don’t have a clue how he became a criminal.’  

In my opinion, if a parent of an offender can really say the above words from the heart then it’s reasonable to conclude that their parenting skills did not in any way contribute to their child’s criminal tendencies.

Whether or not parents should share the blame if their children turn to crime in their teens or in early adulthood is debatable. One thing is certain though, how a child is raised has a large bearing will determine if child will turn to a life.

However, everyone has the freedom of choice to take whatever action that needs to be taken. Being born to lousy parents is no excuse for anyone to turn to a life of crime.                                                            

How much responsibility should parents of criminals take?
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24