Children of Organized Crime Offenders: Like Father, Like Child?

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This qualitative descriptive study aims to explore (1) the extent of intergenerational continuity of crime in families of organized crime offenders, (2) the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and (3) the mechanisms underlying intergenerational discontinuity.

In terms of prevalence in official record crime statistics, the results show that a large majority of the organized crime offenders’ sons seem to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. This is not the case for daughters, as half of them have a criminal record, but primarily for only one minor crime. Intergenerational transmission seems to be facilitated by mediating risk factors, inadequate parenting skills of the mother, the “famous” or violent reputation of the father, and deviant social learning. To break the intergenerational chain of crime and violence, the results seem to suggest that an accumulation of protective factors seem to be effective, particularly for girls. For girls, supervision from a child protection service also seems to work quite well. For boys, a different approach to prevent them from offending is urgently needed.

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