Crime and Family

Crime and Family: Selected Essays of Joan McCord

Edited and with a Foreword by Geoffrey Sayre-McCord
With an Introduction by David P. Farrington
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crime and Family
    Book Description:

    Joan McCord (1930-2004) was one of the most famous, most-respected, and best-loved criminologists of her generation. A brilliant pioneer, Dr. McCord was best known for her work on the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study, the first large-scale, longitudinal experimental study in the field of criminology. The study was among the first to demonstrate unintended harmful effects of a well-meaning prevention program. Dr. McCord's most important essays from this groundbreaking research project are among those included in this volume.McCord also co-wrote, edited, or co-edited twelve volumes and authored or co-authored 127 journal articles and book chapters. She wrote across a broad array of subjects, including delinquency, alcoholism, violence, crime prevention, and criminal theory. This book brings her most important and lasting work together in one place for the first time.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-559-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Library Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Geoffrey Sayre-McCord

    THESE PAPERS were selected for this collection by my mother, Joan McCord, after she discovered she had only a short time to live. They reflect the breadth and depth of the work she did from the middle 1970s until her death.

    Many of the papers use the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study data. The details of that study are well laid out in the collection, but it is worth providing a brief overview. The study was begun in the 1930s by Dr. Richard Cabot. Cabot was hopeful that a big brother/big sister/mentoring program could significantly improve a child’s prospects of leading a...

    (pp. 1-10)
    David P. Farrington

    JOAN McCORD was a brilliant pioneer in criminology. Her best-known, most influential, and greatest contributions to knowledge arose from her pioneering work on the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study, which was the first large-scale longitudinal-experimental study ever carried out in the history of criminology. Appropriately, most of the papers in this volume report results from that study.

    As the name suggests, longitudinal-experimental studies combine two of the most important methods used in criminology, by conducting a randomized experiment within a prospective longitudinal survey (Farrington, 2006). Because they are prospective longitudinal surveys, these studies provide information about the natural history of development of...

  5. PART ONE: The Effects of Intervention
    • CHAPTER ONE A Thirty-Year Follow-up of Treatment Effects
      (pp. 13-21)

      IN 1935, Richard Clark Cabot instigated one of the most imaginative and exciting programs ever designed in hopes of preventing delinquency. A social philosopher as well as physician, Dr. Cabot established a program that both avoided stigmatizing participants and permitted follow-up evaluation.

      Several hundred boys from densely populated, factory-dominated areas of eastern Massachusetts were included in the project, known as the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study. Schools, welfare agencies, churches, and the police recommended both “difficult” and “average” youngsters to the program. These boys and their families were given physical examinations and were interviewed by social workers who then rated each boy...

    • CHAPTER TWO Consideration of Some Effects of a Counseling Program
      (pp. 22-31)

      THOSE WHO spend their lives providing psychological services generally do not have the opportunity to learn about the long-term effects of their efforts. The opportunity to study men who once were members of the Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study provides a rare exception.

      The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study was designed, during the years of the Great Depression, with the hope that it would help prevent delinquency. Its organizers solicited the names of young boys who lived in designated (generally deteriorated) areas of two communities in eastern Massachusetts. By intention, the program included “average” as well as “difficult” children. Between 1935 and 1939, a...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Cambridge-Somerville Study: A Pioneering Longitudinal Experimental Study of Delinquency Prevention
      (pp. 32-40)

      CLAIMS LINKING FAMILY inadequacies with criminal behavior are far from new. In the seventeenth century, for example, William Gouge (1627) described the duties of family members toward one another by writing that “children well nurtured and by correction kept in filiall awe, will so carry themselves, as their parents may rest somewhat secure” (p. 311). In the nineteenth century, convinced that “all sources of crime … may be traced to one original cause, namely, the neglect of parents as to a proper care of their children,” Jevons urged that parents, rather than their children, be punished for their children’s delinquency...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Cures That Harm: Unanticipated Outcomes of Crime Prevention Programs
      (pp. 41-54)

      THENEW YORK TIMESpublished an article on Thursday, 4 April 2002 announcing that “a trade group representing British pharmaceutical companies publicly reprimanded Pfizer for promoting several medicines for unapproved uses and marketing another drug before it received government approval” (p. C5). The reprimand was justified because the drugs had not been appropriately tested for safety. Pfizer risked causing harm. No such reprimand could possibly occur in the fields of social intervention.

      Researchers, practitioners, and policy makers have begun to understand that evidence is required to identify effective programs to reduce crime. Yet they typically couple the desire for evidence...

  6. PART TWO: The Effects of Child Rearing
    • CHAPTER FIVE Some Child-Rearing Antecedents of Criminal Behavior in Adult Men
      (pp. 57-69)

      DESPITE A MASSIVE literature emphasizing the importance of child rearing, conscientious critics (e.g., Clarke & Clarke, 1976; Yarrow, Campbell, & Burton, 1968) have raised legitimate doubts regarding the impact of parental behavior on personality development. Many of the studies that link parental behavior with personality development rely upon a single source of information for both sets of variables; systematic reporting biases could thus cause obtained relationships. Most of the remaining studies have depended upon concurrent measurements, leaving doubt as to the direction of influence between parents’ behavior and characteristics of the child. Questions about interpreting the results of both types of studies...

    • CHAPTER SIX A Longitudinal View of the Relationship Between Paternal Absence and Crime
      (pp. 70-84)

      FOR MORE THAN 2,000 years, concern with the existence of crime has been coupled with a belief that child rearing is linked to antisocial behaviour. Aristotle identified the relationship inNicomachean Ethics(Book II, ch. 3, 1104b).

      For moral excellence is concerned with pleasures and pains; it is on account of the pleasure that we do bad things, and on account of the pain that we abstain from noble ones. Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth, as Plato says, so as both to delight in and to be pained by...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN A Forty Year Perspective on Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
      (pp. 85-91)

      THE PRESENT STUDY has been designed to assess long-term effects of child abuse and neglect. The data are part of a longitudinal study of the lives of 253 men reared in 232 families prior to World War II in eastern Massachusetts. Randomly selected for the study because they lived in transitional neighborhoods, were between the ages of five and nine, and could be matched with a similar boy of similar background (who was not included in the group assigned counselors, and therefore, for whom evidence on childhood was skimpy), the men have been traced to their late forties.

      Information about...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Family Relationships, Juvenile Delinquency, and Adult Criminality
      (pp. 92-108)

      HISTORICALLY, family interactions have been assumed to influence criminal behavior. Plato, for example, prescribed a regimen for rearing good citizens in the nursery. Aristotle asserted that in order to be virtuous, “we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our very youth” (Bk. II, Ch. 3:11048). And John Locke wrote his letters on the education of children in the belief that errors “carry their afterwards-incorrigible taint with them, through all the parts and stations of life” (1693:iv).

      Twentieth-century theorists ranging from the analytic to the behavioral seem to concur with the earlier thinkers in assuming that...

  7. PART THREE: Punishment and Discipline
    • CHAPTER NINE Questioning the Value of Punishment
      (pp. 111-125)

      “SPARE THE ROD and spoil the child,” many have argued. “No,” say others, as they refer to evidence that physical punishment leads to, rather than prevents, violent behavior. Yet only a few, it seems, have whispered that we should question the value of every type of punishment, including psychological punishments and deprivation of privileges as well as physical punishments.

      When attention has been focused only on physical punishment, critics typically note that such discipline provides a model for the use of force, thereby teaching people to use force. Murray Straus, for example, argues that corporal punishment contributes to a cycle...

    • CHAPTER TEN Deterrence and the Light Touch of the Law
      (pp. 126-137)

      TRADITIONALLY, two claims regarding effects of punishment have competed in the arena of criminal justice. The older claim can be traced to Protagoras, with Beccaria (1764) and Bentham (1789) as picadors. To Protagoras, Plato attributed the argument: “He who desires to inflict rational punishment does not retaliate for a past wrong which cannot be undone; he has regard to the future, and is desirous that the man who is punished and he who sees him punished may be deterred from doing wrong again” (Plato:Protagoras, 324). Proponents of this claim believe that fear of punishment deters crime (Boland and Wilson,...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN On Discipline
      (pp. 138-143)

      PARENTAL DISCIPLINE CONSTITUTES one of the more salient and, perhaps, malleable features of child-rearing. Knowing how to bring about desired results in children’s behavior is likely, therefore, to be particularly valuable. Yet research designed to understand effects of variations in timing, techniques, or context of discipline has been surprisingly rare. For this reason alone, the research reported by Deater-Deckard and Dodge in their target article is welcome.

      Deater-Deckard and Dodge suggest that physical discipline affects children’s aggression, with the magnitude of the influence depending on “the severity of the discipline, the cultural group in which the discipline occurs (and meaning...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Discipline and the Use of Sanctions
      (pp. 144-152)

      OFTEN, WHEN PARENTS and advisors discuss discipline, they refer only to punishment. Yet punishment is to discipline, I suggest, as crumbs are to a banquet. Punishments are tiny, largely undesirable, pieces of the delicious feast provided by well-prepared discipline. Discipline, which is far larger and more valuable than the crumbs of punishment, includes rules, norms, and values as well as external sanctions.

      Indeed, thoughtful consideration of discipline should include at least three areas: (a) Characteristics of the rules, norms, and values to which a child is being socialized; (b) The nature of the enforcement; and (c) The substance and effects...

  8. PART FOUR: Crime in the Family
    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Patterns of Deviance
      (pp. 155-161)

      OVER THE LAST FEW decades, studies of crime have yielded enough information to raise some interesting questions about patterns of deviance. For example, studies of young criminals have linked their behavior to parental rejection, parental conflict, and to criminal role models (Bandura and Walters, 1959; Farrington, 1973; Glueck and Glueck, 1950; Havighurst et al., 1962; McCord et al., 1963; McCord and McCord, 1959 and 1960; Nye, 1958; Palmore and Hammond, 1964; Peck et al., 1960; Robins, 1966). Followup studies of delinquents generally indicate that they are likely to continue to commit crimes as adults (Chaitin and Dunham, 1966; Glueck and...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Cycle of Crime and Socialization Practices
      (pp. 162-176)

      STUDIES OF DELINQUENCY are peppered with reports that crime runs in families. Aggressiveness and criminality among the parents of delinquents have been reported in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and Finland.¹ Evidence from these studies suggests that criminality has both biological and social links. Both linkages also can be inferred from studies of domestic abuse that reveal that abused children have a relatively high probability of becoming violent adults.² Over the last two decades, studies of twins and of adoption have implicated genetic factors in the transmission of behaviors related to crime. For example, Goodman and Stevenson³ found a...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Family Socialization and Antisocial Behavior: Searching for Causal Relationships in Longitudinal Research
      (pp. 177-187)

      FOR MANY OF US, longitudinal research has involved a deep commitment, a commitment that has seemed justified by the promise of answers to profound questions. We have, in effect, accepted the credo expressed by John Stuart Mill (1843/1973) who wrote: “Of all truths relating to phenomena the most valuable to us are those which relate to the order of their succession. On a knowledge of these is founded every reasonable anticipation of future facts, and whatever power we possess of influencing those facts to our advantage” (p. 324).

      Despite the social benefits which success in predictions seemed to promise, interventions...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Family as Crucible for Violence: Comment on Gorman-Smith et al. (1996)
      (pp. 188-196)

      GORMAN-SMITH, TOLAN, ZELLI, and Huesmann (1996) studied African American and Latino boys in the fifth and seventh grades. The boys lived in “disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago” (p. 119). Using information supplied by the boys and their caretakers, the researchers developed scales to describe family processes known to be related to serious antisocial behavior. The boys’ responses to questions about their delinquency led to their classification as nondelinquent (N=200), nonviolent delinquent (N=65), or violent (N=71). The analyses indicated that “the violent delinquent group reported poorer discipline, less cohesion, and less involvement than mothers and boys in the other two groups”...

  9. PART FIVE: Alcoholism and Drunk Driving
    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Drunken Drivers in Longitudinal Perspective
      (pp. 199-205)

      POPULAR OPINION LENDS credence to a view that men convicted for driving while intoxicated (DWI) are simply men whose friends have failed to note their presumably exceptional inebriety. The implication of this view is that drunken drivers could be any of us. In his careful review of the evidence, however, Waller (1976) suggests a different picture. Men convicted for DWI appear to have a history of violent behavior. This view implies a marked difference between drunken drivers and other people.

      The present study has been designed to shed light on the question of which view is more valid. In addition,...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Alcoholism and Crime Across Generations
      (pp. 206-216)

      BOTH ALCOHOLISM AND CRIMINALITY tend to run in families. Because a higher proportion of alcoholics than of the general population have alcoholic parents and a higher proportion of criminals than of the general population have criminal parents, the children of alcoholics and criminals are considered to be at high risk for developing problems (e.g. Farrington et al., 1975; Kaij and Dock, 1975; Knop et al., 1985; Mednick et al., 1986; Zucker, 1987; Dodge et al., 1990; Knowles and Schroeder, 1990; Pihl et al., 1990; McCord, 1991a; Bates and Labouvie, 1994; Goodwin et al., 1994; Bush et al., 1995; Simons et...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Identifying Developmental Paradigms Leading to Alcoholism
      (pp. 217-226)

      ALCOHOLISM, LIKE CRIME and mental illness, seems to run in families. Few who have known an alcoholic are likely to argue that an alcoholic’s behavior will have no impact on his or her family. Partly for this reason, the relatively high rate of alcoholism found among children of alcoholics has often been interpreted in social-psychological terms (e.g., Blane and Barry, 1973; Burk, 1972; Fox, 1962; Zucker and Gomberg, 1986).

      Over the last two decades, however, evidence has mounted to suggest a genetic component in the development of alcoholism (Bohman, 1978; Cadoret and Gath, 1978; Goodwin, 1976, 1981; Goodwin et al.,...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY Another Time, Another Drug
      (pp. 227-240)

      RECENT RESEARCH has suggested that drinking alcohol is almost a necessary precursor for using illegal drugs and that abusing the legal drug alcohol sets the stage for abusing illegal drugs (Kandel, 1980; Mills and Noyes, 1984; Osgood, Johnston, O’Malley, and Bachman, 1988; Welte and Barnes, 1985). Understanding the etiology of alcohol abuse is therefore a preliminary step toward understanding the transition to other forms of drug abuse. Understanding alcohol abuse is important also because its consequences, like those of illegal drugs, are known to be harmful both physically and socially. In the case of both alcohol abuse and the abuse...

  10. PART SIX: Miscellany
    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Competence in Long-Term Perspective
      (pp. 243-255)

      DESPITE THEIR SEPARATION, the two views have converged in studies of young children that suggest a link between learning disabilities and conduct disorders (e.g., Coie and Krehbiel, 1984; Dodge, 1983; Farrington and Loeber, 1987; Green et al., 1980; McGee and Share, 1988) and in studies indicating that delinquents tend to lack interest in school (Bachman et al., 1971; Elliott and Voss, 1974; Farrington et al., 1986; Reiss and Rhodes, 1959).

      The two views converge also in terms of family backgrounds. Studies of achievement have shown that children who do well in school tend to have warm, supportive parents with democratic...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Understanding Motivations: Considering Altruism and Aggression
      (pp. 256-269)

      THE FACT THAT CRIMINAL actions are performed intentionally distinguishes them from accidental actions and from those performed as a consequence of mental illness. Intentional actions require motives, so motivations should play a central role in an adequate theory of crime. This article addresses what appears to be a gap in theories of criminal behavior: a gap between external forces and intentional behavior.

      Although several theories of crime rely upon assumptions about underlying motives, the motives implicated by these theories would not qualify as such in a criminal court. For example, Cohen (1955) considered delinquency a response to “a chronic fund...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Ethnicity, Acculturation, and Opportunities: A Study of Two Generations
      (pp. 270-280)

      THE NUMBER OF CITIES in the United States with populations of at least ten thousand people rose from five, in 1800, to 345, in 1890, marking the beginning of a transition from a rural to an urban society (Weber, 1899/1963; Thernstrom, 1964/1970). After a brief hiatus, brought about by water shortages and crop infestations at the end of the nineteenth century (Hicks, 1931/1961), another 14.5 million people arrived in the United States. Three quarters of them settled in cities (Axinn and Levin, 1975). For the first time, in 1920, census figures showed an urban population greater than the rural population....

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Learning How to Learn and Its Sequelae
      (pp. 281-292)

      HIGH SCHOOL IN TUCSON, ARIZONA, left me thinking that education was a matter of learning how to repeat what others wrote. Fortunately, at Stanford, I had two lucky breaks that taught me otherwise. The first was in a philosophy course that challenged me to think critically about what I read. The professor assigned a series of incompatible theories. When we realized that, being incompatible, they couldn’t all be right, we were forced to rethink our earlier conviction concerning each. What a lesson that was. Thirty years later, I returned to Stanford and let Professor John Mothershead know that his course...

    (pp. 293-302)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 303-310)