Like father, like son.

We are all products of the environments in which we grow up. As children, it is exceedingly difficult to formulate opinions and outlooks outside those of one’s immediate caretakers, one’s family. Malleable of mind, children often conform to the norms put into place by their family and shadow the example of their proximate sphere. All families are different, but what becomes of children whose familial life is so outrageously dissimilar to what is considered normative? What becomes of children who are brought up amidst the turbulence of organized crime? Research indicates that, “criminal behavior tends to be strongly clustered within families” (Piquero et al.).  Likewise, “children learn criminal behavior by observing and modeling the behavior of their parents” (Van de Rakt et al.). Based upon these observations, one may glean that all children of organized crime offenders, or crime offenders at large, who endure an upbringing wherein crime is normalized, are fated to become criminals themselves. This is not in fact always the case; there are many different factors which contribute to the likelihood of children falling into the circle of organized crime. One of the most noteworthy factors happens to be the gender of the offspring, as, “boys and girls tend to react differently to stressful life events such as parental criminal behavior” (Van de Rakt et al.). Generally, “boys exhibit more externalizing problems, such as delinquency, whereas girls display more internalizing problems, such as anxiety and depression (Capaldi et al.). Subsequently, sons of mafia criminals “seem more willing to behave according to this (criminal) role than daughters”, as they, “seem to respect the stereotyped masculine behavior expected of them in Mafia environments, while daughters are either eager to escape their destiny or are victimized” (Van Dijk et al.).  Like father, like son, takes on a particularly eerie meaning when imparted upon the dark context of mafia involvement, although this cliched maxim seems to ring true.

It was the morning of my twelfth birthday. My dad had been gone for six months and my mother had been paralyzed for 8. It was unusually balmy for February in Boston, and I can recall my father’s dark blue car ascending down the long driveway swopping sunshine for shade as it skated underneath the trees. My sister and I bounced downstairs screaming, waking my father’s “friend” Charlie, who had been taking care of us while my father was gone and mother was ill. He greeted us not with affection but with terse solemnity. “Pack your things. We are leaving now.” “But where are we going?”. “Down south somewhere. I’m thinking Richmond. We need to leave before noon. Where is your mother?”

Works cited:

Capaldi, D. M., DeGarmo, D., Patterson, G. R., & Forgatch, M. (2002). Contextual risk across the early life span and association with antisocial behavior. In J. B. Reid, G. R. Patterson, & J. J. Snyder (Eds.), Antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: A developmental analysis and model for intervention (pp. 123–145). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Piquero, A. R., Farrington, D. P., & Blumstein, A. (2003). The criminal career paradigm. Crime and Justice, 30, 359–506.

Van de Rakt, Marieke, et al. “Association of Criminal Convictions between Family Members: Effects of Siblings, Fathers and Mothers.” Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 9 Mar. 2009,

Van Dijk, Meintje, et al. “Children of Organized Crime Offenders: Like Father, Like Child? An Explorative and Qualitative Study Into Mechanisms of Intergenerational (Dis)Continuity in Organized Crime Families.” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 14 Apr. 2018,

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