Dad -- The Greatest Deterrent to Crime

J. Michael Sharman
Column No. 13
Publication Date: <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />January 10, 2006
Title: Dad -- The Greatest Deterrent to Crime.
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In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Maurice Clarett allegedly flashed a gun at two people in an alley behind a Columbus, Ohio bar called The Opium Lounge, and robbed them.
It was a bad choice of location for Maurice Clarett because he was well known around there. In fact, while the robbery was in progress, the owner of the bar, Tashona Corvi, proved that fame has its price when she came out of the backdoor of the nightclub and shouted, "Maurice!" as a greeting to him. Maurice carried her to his SUV, put her down, then got in and drove away. When the victims told Ms. Corvi what had happened, she sadly called the police to report her friend.
Maurice Clarett was well known to most people in that region because back when he played football for Warren Harding High School in Youngstown, Ohio, he had been selected by USA Today as the Offensive Player of the Year. The Associated Press named him “Mr. Football” for the state of Ohio and as AP co-Offensive Player of the Year. Parade Magazine made him an All-America pick.
After high school, Maurice played one year at Ohio State University, and he set freshman records for rushing yards, touchdown runs, 100-yard games, and total points before ending the 2002 season with a victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.
He was suspended from Ohio State University in September of 2003 after being charged with making a false police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment had been stolen from a car he’d borrowed from a local dealership. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of failure to aid a law enforcement officer.
Even after losing a year’s playing time in a failed legal attempt to force the NFL to let him enter the draft early, Clarett’s talent still made him the 2005 third round draft pick for the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos released him back in August, but the first business day of 2006 was scheduled to be yet another new start for Clarett. It was to be the day his agent would announce that Maurice had signed with an NFL Europe team. Instead, his trial lawyer made an announcement that Clarett was being held overnight in the county jail on two armed robbery charges.
            Here’s perhaps at least one possible reason why such great talent could be so wasted: Over the years the few news articles which have mentioned his dad, Myke Clarett, have described him as “Maurice’s estranged father” and said “they have not been close in a couple of years…”
That may or may not be the root of Maurice’s self-destruction, but it certainly is for many other young men.
            The Institute on Marriage and Public Policy did a review of recent studies on the effect of family structure on crime and delinquency.[1] The research suggested not only that children raised in single-parent homes are individually more likely to later commit crimes, but also that communities with high rates of family fragmentation will suffer higher crime rates.
Adolescents in single-parent families were found to be almost two times more likely to have pulled a knife or a gun on someone in the past year[2], while adolescents in married, two biological-parent families generally fared better overall than children in any of the other family types.
One study of students in 315 classrooms in 11 cities found that the single most important variable in predicting whether a child would be involved in a gang is whether he is in a single parent family.[3]
Another study looked at crime in rural counties in four states and concluded: “Higher levels of family disruption, as indexed by the proportion of female-headed households, were strongly and consistently associated with higher rates of arrest for violent offenses other than homicide.”[4]
The weight of a parent’s poor choice is often placed on their child’s shoulders.
Maurice Clarett is now an adult charged with a serious crime, but he was once a child in need of a good father-son relationship. Prophetically, one NFL draft analyst wrote: “He has a tremendous amount of talent, but he also carries a lot of baggage.”


[2] Franke, Todd Michael (2000). Adolescent violent behavior: an analysis across and within racial/ethnic groups.
Journal of Multicultural Social Work, 8: 47-70.

[3] Lynskey, Dana Peterson, et al. (2000). Linking gender, minority group status and family matters to selfcontrol theory: a multivariate analysis of key self-control concepts in a youth-gang context. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 51: 1-19.

[4] Osgood, D. Wayne, & Chambers, Jeff M. (2000). Social disorganization outside the metropolis: an analysis
of rural youth violence. Criminology, 38: 81-116.

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