Societal ills are on the rise and caused significant suffering to individuals and communities. Examples of social ills include violent crimes, bullying, racism, delinquency, discrimination, drug abuse, poverty and homelessness among others. The breakdown of families is a global phenomenon and has profound effects on children and the society. Additionally, the problem seems to be growing each passing day and is most common in countries that have embodied western liberal values like single parenthood, changing sexuality, and preference for same sex marriages. Indeed, one of the greatest problems facing modern societies is the breakdown families because it is a primary cause of social ills.
Several factors lead to family breakdowns and ultimately create social ills in societies. These include infidelity, financial problems, violence, excessive consumption of alcohol, and drug abuse among others. These troubles directly influence family members, however, children are the worst affected as they are the most vulnerable victims of consistent effects of disintegrating families. The human race is determined by the behavior and aspirations of children that parents leave behind when they die. Dunn (2005) asserts that children primarily depend on their parents to guide them until they attain the adulthood status. Indeed, the family unit is a building block for children’s progress throughout their lives. Consequently, as Dunn (2005) posits, the moment a family unit fails; children are often left to fend for themselves and even raise themselves thus miss the valuable lessons of childhood behavior reinforced by their parents. Hence, failed families enhance the tendency of children and youth to participate in social ills within the societal setup.
Broken families subject the children to violent crimes and juvenile delinquency as they grow. Evidence has apportioned that the numerous crimes committed in the United States by the youth results from the loss of the parent’s capacity to be responsible and care for their children. Additionally, Ibabe & Bentler (2016) argue that most violent crimes are committed by youth drawn from families abandoned by their fathers. The high crimes in neighborhoods are concentrated in regions with a high prevalence of fathers who have abandoned their families. An analysis of violent crimes per state also reveals the number of children living in families with one parents continue to increase translating to more than 17 percent in juvenile crime (OJJDP, 2019). The aggression and hostility shown by future juvenile criminals is usually nurtured during tender ages. Therefore, family breakdown fundamentally affect behavioral support and guidance offered to children who often end up being delinquent gangs.
The violence that children who come from broken families display as they grow and during their adulthood is caused by the loss in love and guidance at the intimate levels of marriage and family. Ibabe & Bentler (2016) posit that delinquent behaviors have broader social consequences for wider societal setup. In addition, empirical evidence confirms that the youths from broken families tend to have a much weaker sense of social connections with the rest of society and are prone to exploiting aspects of the society to fulfill their unmet needs and demands. Ibabe & Bentler (2016) further opines that exploiting aspects of the society contributes to the imminent loss of societal values governing behavior and disintegration of neighborhoods to create social chaos and violent crimes. The loss of love and care is a prerequisite of violence and social ill because children tend to behave and act against the societal rules because their parents have failed in their responsibility to instill discipline and act as good role models.
The breakdown of the family unit exposes children to early drug use and consumption of alcohol among other risky behaviors. Indeed, drug use and alcohol consumption prevent children or youth from attending school and actively participating in constructive societal responsibilities. Douglas (2005) mentions that drug use is common among children whose parents are divorced and that majority of these children likely to experience neglect and develop depression. Douglas (2005) states that that depression is a common factor that strains the relationship between family members. The onset of depression may lead to suicide or drive children to adopt risky behaviors and crime in an attempt to relieve deal with the condition. It is difficult for such children to achieve much academically and even lead to dropping out of school, which may lead to them engaging in criminal activities. It is difficult for people who have not completed their education or those who did not perform well to secure well-paying jobs thus such individuals may resort to crime to afford their basic needs.
The child may be influenced by peers to engage in drug consumption because a lone-parent may not be around often to look after him or her and instill values. When a single parent is forced to work long hours to food her basic needs and those of his or her children, the children are likely to be left in the hands of caretakers, alone, or raised by irresponsible guardians due to work commitments. With the family unit becoming smaller, Vanderfaeillie et al. (2018) claim that children are left to fend for themselves and often come home from school to find an empty house with nothing to eat. In the instance that they run out of financial support from either parent, they may be convinced to participate in illegal activities, such as smuggling drugs within the neighborhoods for money. Therefore, in the process of selling drugs, a child may be tempted to use and become addicted jeopardizing life and education goals. These children then become bad influences in society thus help promote drug use and in the process destroy the future of other children who previously had good future aspirations and goals.
Economic hardship is another social problem created by family breakdowns. Indeed, family breakdown impacts negatively on the economic status of children radically changed. Evidence suggests that custodial mothers experience a loss of between 25 and 50 percent income agreements before divorce (De Massis et al., 2015). Besides, only 50 percent of the mothers affected receive child support from the fathers of their children (De Massis et al., 2015). Only 25 percent of the women awarded child support actually receive the payments (De Massis et al., 2015). With the mentioned statistics and the high rate of divorce rates in modern societies, a significant number of single mothers is likely to endure poverty. A considerable number of households living with single parents are poised to live on less than 60 percent of median income after deducting housing costs (De Massis et al., 2015). Amato (2005) reveals that many children eat nothing before lunchtime, struggle to afford school uniforms, and a substantial number of the older children take care of their siblings single-handedly. These issues impact negatively on the physical and mental well-being of people, and may directly affect educational achievements.
Families separated tend to suffer economic losses leading to homelessness. Family breakdown may necessitate urgent movement and create financial shocks (Amato, 2005). Therefore, with inadequate incomes, savings or disintegrated family networks, a broken family may be unable to cover unexpected family expenses. The low-income single families may be unable to afford secure and safe housing units for their families, thereby leading to homelessness (Amato, 2005). While, the less disadvantaged families that are at the early stages of divorce may be able to cope up with financial burdens, such as covering housing costs using savings, they may be unable to do so in the medium and long-term once the savings run-out. The chances of such families becoming homeless may be high years after separations. The children may be driven out of their family homes and afterwards rendering people homeless in following years after family breakdowns.
Conflicts accompanying divorce and separation also contribute to homelessness. Francesconi et al. (2010) declare that family breakdown is indeed an important trigger for homelessness. Per Amato (2005), most people living on the streets often claim that the violence associated with failing marriages and disintegrating families are the core reasons they resort to escape from their homes. However, Francesconi et al. (2010) posits that the evidence linking family breakdown to homelessness is scarce because most of the disadvantaged population experiencing homelessness is underrepresented in research surveys. However, other means of assessing the prevalence of the situation exist. As Vanderfaeillie et al. (2018) posits, the homeless children in streets claim that family conflicts pushed them away from their homes. These children feel comfortable staying on the streets instead of enduring conflicts and violence is already disintegrating families and they are evidence that strife within the family causes social problems.
A family breakdown is marked by consistent violence among partners. The consistent violence at homes enhances the likelihood of children to become bullies in schools. Steele et al. (2009) reveal that children exposed to violence in troubled families often engage in physical fights while in school. Also, different studies have attempted to examine the relationship between child exposure to intimate violence and active involvement in bullying. The children exposed to violence are also the first to break down into physical fights and other forms of aggression like hitting, pushing, and teasing. Steele et al. (2009) defines family violence as the use of threats and force to intimidate, coerce or control a family member. In most cases, domestic violence is caused by imbalance of power in which abuse and violence are used to control others and force them into submission. Steele et al. (2009) links intimate violence to disintegrating family and argues that it is often a matter of time before a family ends in a divorce or desperation if violence is common. Therefore, a family with persistent violence is a nonfunctional family that does not instill proper ideals and behavior to children growing up.
Children learn based on what they observe their primary caregivers do because parents are primary role models of their children who tend to mimic their behavior in school as they attempt to be like them. As such, they believe that it is right to use violence to intimidate others when they witness their parents behaving that way. Such children believe that violence is the right way to revenge or instill discipline on others. Ibabe & Bentler (2016) argue that parental violence can lead to unprecedented violence between children and their colleagues and partners once they enter relationships. While some children who witness violence between their parents recognize the damage it does thus learn that the behavior is not acceptable, others believe that that is how conflicts are solved so they internalize the violence and practice it whenever they deem it fit.
Family breakdown remains the primary cause of social ills in modern societies. Families fail because of divorce, constant violence, re-marriage, and unfaithfulness. If these families disintegrate, some parents fail to support their children and instill societal norms is one of the reasons why there are consistent bullying in schools, constant drug use leading to addiction, and cases of violent crimes involving children and youth. In addition, failing marriages subjected family members to economic hardship forcing them to struggle to fend for themselves. At the initial stages of a divorce, the rest of the family members can survive on savings. Once the savings are deprived, the members tend to have no alternative but to live as homeless people in the streets. Hence, family breakdown is discomforting to other members because of its link to persistent poverty. Without peaceful families, there can be no progress and prosperity. Most parents have also instilled the culture of violence on their children who observe what they do at home and then mimic such violent acts in schools in the form of bullying. The issue of failing families should be addressed to help protect children and the entire society from social ills.
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