Criminal Activity, Divorce Share A Relationship

  • Research shows that divorce can lead one to commit a criminal act.
  • Research also shows that criminal acts can lead to a divorce.
  • Children of criminals are affected by their behavior.

"The FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have stated that there are a variety of factors that are known to affect volume and types of crime in different locations, including familial conditions including divorce and family cohesiveness."

The ability to predict the factors that lead to a person committing a criminal act is a concept that has been studied and examined under many a microscope over the years. Each answer points to motives relating to an individual’s personal benefit. One personal benefit that frequently analyzed is the personal release of what a criminal internally takes away from the crime, such as what he gained from the experience to benefit or what internal motives he or she has for committing the act.

Crime can be seen as an expression of one’s internal feelings through external action, and when going through a divorce, one’s internal feelings are frequently all over the map. At your highs, you can feel like you’re so close to freedom and everything is going to be okay, but at your lows, it can feel like the walls are closing in and you need to push back against the people and the system who hurt you.

The FBI and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have stated that there are a variety of factors that are known to affect volume and types of crime in different locations, including familial conditions including divorce and family cohesiveness. Crime and divorce also are two institutions not limited to geography. Both are occurring around the world, and the studies being done on the relationship between the two are internationally relevant to the academic discussion.

‘Unilateral’ data

Statistics regarding the relationship between crime rates and divorce rates often use unilateral divorce as the barometer for measuring the divorce aspect in the comparison. Unilateral divorce is defined as a divorce, in which one spouse ends the marriage without the consent of the other spouse. The use of unilateral divorce in crime rate statistics can be attributed to the abrupt nature of the concept.

According to research in the Department of Economics at Charles III University of Madrid, unilateral divorce increases violent crime rates by approximately 9 percent. This research used the data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and also found through the data, that there is an average increase in murder arrest rate by 18 percent and 20 percent for aggravated assault arrest rate between 1965 and 1997.

Statistical studies

Despite the prevalent research done using unilateral divorce as the barometer in this comparison, divorce as an institution unto itself still is used in other studies that compare divorce and crime. Researchers at Fordham University did a mathematical study to note the statistical relationship between crime, divorce, and unemployment. In their concluding results, they found that the math indicated an relationship between going through a divorce and committing a crime, whereas they determined that there’s less of a relationship between being unemployed and committing a crime.

The International Institute of Social and Economic Studies published a study from the Al-Ain University of Science and Technology regarding the likelihood that crime could lead to divorce and the likelihood that divorce could lead to crime. Their research, measuring data from 2000 to 2013, shows that both divorce and crime can lead to one another, with only time as the contributing factor the results of the action taken.

The influence of crime

Research from the United States Department of Justice, in conjunction with the National Institute of Justice, stated that convicted adults divorce more frequently than their peers and that criminal men tended to marry criminal women.

These results tended to nullify the notion that marriage intervenes in a criminal lifestyle. Furthermore, one’s attachment to their spouse is negatively related to criminal behavior, which can suggest that the quality, not the existence, of a marriage may influence criminal activity.

More to the story

All of this research details the relationship between divorce and crime, but the impact is greater than the numbers themselves. The families of those involved in divorce and crime have their own stories to tell, and some of those stories end in tragedy. The numbers of crime-related deaths in the U.S. are so difficult to quantify that the only way of going about finding the data is narrowing it down to firearm-related deaths, which do not necessarily tell the full story either.

The children involved in these families are often left vulnerable to continuing the cycle of criminal activity and possible violence. According to data, a child with criminal parents faces a greater likelihood of becoming a delinquent than children with law-abiding parents. Keep in mind that this data is more directly related to poor supervision, as opposed to criminality.

This data also reveals the correlative effect of marital discord, marital conflict, and child abuse on a child’s likelihood of delinquency. It’s not an automatic risk, but growing up in a conflicted and violent household greatly increases one’s chances to a life of delinquency and criminal activity.

The expression of divorce is often a concept that does not get discussed, but it can frequently reveal the internal feelings of an individual through their external actions in the aftermath. Criminal activity can manifest itself through the feelings bottled up during the divorce experience. Being able to analyze this relationship gives those experiencing a divorce or those married and facing criminal charges some of the data necessary to avoid further pitfalls.

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