FAMILY STRUCTURE AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY A CASE STUDY OF UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

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FAMILY STRUCTURE AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY A CASE STUDY OF UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the study      

The term Juvenile delinquency covers a wide range of unacceptable activity that blights the lives of many young people on a daily basis. It often leaves victims feeling helpless, desperate and with a seriously reduced quality of life. Terms such as ‘nuisance’, ‘disorder’ and ‘harassment’ are also often used to describe this type of behaviour (Metropolitan Police Act 2011).Juvenile delinquency has become very rampant today among secondary school’s pupils in Nigeria. The situation in Ukanafun Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State may vary from that of other state in Nigeria. This is because the state laws, norms and societal expectations in this part of the nation may vary from what is obtainable in the other parts of the nation. Juvenile delinquency is defined as “Behaviour by a person younger than 18 years of age, which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the person” (Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 and Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).

According to Inyang (2004), the type of household in which young people grow up influences the extent to which they may become delinquent and the type of offences they are likely to commit. Parental divorce is a consistent (if modest) predictor of Juvenile delinquency and other externalizing behaviours during young person hood and adolescence (Amato and Keith, 1991).

Young peoples’ behaviours are said to be in proportionate to the structure of the family they grow up or the socialization processes they go through from the type of family structure they found themselves(Abbie, 1990). In the case whereby parent chose to divorce each other without taking into consideration the consequences on the socialization processes and experiences of their young persons. Such family structure lacks the proper atmosphere and good socialization environment to train a young person in line with the laws, norms and moral values(Singh and Kiran, 2012). When divorce occurs, the parent will no longer live together to care for the young person anymore. At this point, parental love and care towards the young person’s diminishes, as both parents may tend to find new life partners at the expense of their young person’s well being. The situation offers the young persons the opportunity to seek love and care from others especially among their peers who may introduce them to Juvenile delinquency(Abbie, 1990).Young persons of divorced parents are significantly more likely to have behaviour problem by age fifteen, regardless of when the divorce took place, than are young persons of intact families,(Abbie, 1990).

It is the duty of parents to care for their wards, but where one of the parents is not there the young persons are likely to see such situation as an opportunity to express freedom from restriction and are likely to indulge in anti-social activities. Research has shown that young persons from single parent homes are likely to be involve in anti-social  activities or become anti-social  than that of the intact families.Single parents’ families and in particular mother only produce more young persons with behaviour problem than two parent families indeed the very absence of intact families makes gang membership more appealing(Muehlinberg, 2002). The problem with Juvenile delinquency is as a result of single parenting.More homes are breaking up today than it was in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Young persons from single parents’ families especially from the single mother do not have proper correction from parents, and this tends to affect them from one stage in behaviour to another. Single parenting affects young person’s mentally, emotionally as well as psychologically(Muehlinberg, 2002). Often times the single working parents lacks parent–young person relationship because they lack adequate time to help their young person’s deal with the frustration of having only one parent present at home. Single parenting families have a great effect on young persons and expose them to anti-social activities. As a result the young person’s often display their aggression by involving themselves in crime. Young persons of single parent are likely to involve in crime(Singh and Kiran, 2012).

Every young person is expected to be a product of the type of home he or she comes from and the type of parental training he or she receives. The rate of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria today can be attributed to poor parenting which results from so many factors like step-parents (Singh and Kiran, 2012). When the biological parents of a young person separate, break-up, or divorced each other, if one of the parents decides to remarry and the young person grows in such home, the young person is not going to be properly trained as supposed. This is because; the step-parent being not the biological parent will not have the full right to discipline the young person. This has contributed to the growth of juvenile delinquency among pupils in Nigerian school.

According to (Lofquist, 1993), studies found young persons in step families to be susceptible to peer pressure and deviant peer relationships, which may lead to later Juvenile delinquency, and girls in step families may be at increased risk to drug/alcohol use. Because young persons in step families and single-parent families’ records more negative trait in their lives, behaviour problems may be on the high side and these endangers the society.

FAMILY STRUCTURE AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY A CASE STUDY OF UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

FAMILY STRUCTURE AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY A CASE STUDY OF UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA