Real marriage and crime – Dr Mark Pickering interview

Mar 25, 2023

Dr Mark Pickering, an experienced GP and CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, regularly visits prisons and secure mental health units. He has gained valuable insights into the predictive power of marriage and family in determining an individual’s interaction with the criminal justice system. 

Our discussion focused on how family breakdown increases the likelihood of involvement in criminal activities, as highlighted in Theodore Dalrymple’s book ‘Life at the Bottom’.

According to Mark, the prison population comprises many “very sad people” who have “grown up with family breakdown” and a lack of stable role models. He says “family breakdown …and a lack of marriage … is there right at the root of it”. As a society, Mark argues, we must recognise the “importance of a good, stable family upbringing”, because it can help “mitigate so many of the challenges” of life and the problems that we see.

Looking at some of the underlying issues, Mark states that we need a “welfare system which understands the value of stability and marriage and will … encourage that”. He emphasises that “we know that marriage works so well” as an environment for children to grow up in. Mark argues that civil servants and social workers should be more willing to promote “marriage, stability, commitment” as positive values.

Mark concludes by saying that when we “pretend” that “all outcomes are the same”, we do a disservice to those who have experienced family breakdown.

At C4M, we know that the best way to reduce crime in the future is to promote real marriage today. The evidence shows that men who are married and children who grow up with their biological parents are far less likely to engage in criminal activity.