Trio win prize for showing how to avoid raising a criminal

STOCKHOLM: Three researchers were awarded the 2016 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for showing how parents, even criminals, can prevent a child from becoming delinquent, Stockholm University announced on Tuesday.

The researchers, two Americans and a Swedish national, were all recognised for their work in understanding factors which can have an impact on delinquency.

Travis Hirschi, a sociology professor at the University of Arizona began his study in 1965 by gathering data on 4,077 teenagers in a crime-ridden suburb of San Francisco.

Using police records, self-reported criminal activities and the teens' own attitudes, he was able to show the importance of the child's attachment to parents in shaping a decent attitude.

Even with criminal parents, Hirschi found that a strong attachment to one or both parents helped prevent delinquency, and even increased respect for police.

Cathy Spatz Widom, a psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, tracked 908 children in a city in the US midwest who had suffered criminal abuse or neglect by adults.

"Her evidence suggested a more complex relationship between parents and mal-treated children than the conventional 'cycle of violence' theory, that violence begets violence – which it did not, in three out of four cases," the jury said.

The third recipient was Per-Olof Wikstrom, a Swedish professor of criminology at Britain's University of Cambridge whose research in the city of Peterborough highlighted the crucial role of parents in preventing delinquency "by restricting access to criminogenic peers and shaping the morality of their children".

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology was created in 2005 and is financed by foundations in the United States, Sweden and Japan. The winners will share a prize of 1.5 million kronor (RM750,000). – AFP