FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN MUSHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, LAGOS STATE
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Juvenile delinquency, a social problem worldwide has been increasing drastically to the level of 30 percent since the 1990s according to (World Youth Report, Sheryln, 2008). Anti-social behaviors of young people has posed a lot of problems to the wellbeing of the people of Nigeria. Citizens, researchers and public officials perceive juvenile delinquency as a major social contemporary concern in Nigeria. Juvenile crimes witnessed in Nigeria include: drug abuse, cultism, bullying, truancy, examination malpractices, prostitution and theft (Ugwuoke, 2010; Sanni, Udoh, Okediji, Modo&Ezeh, 2010). Shoemaker (2010:3), defined juvenile delinquency as “illegal acts, whether criminal or status offences, which are committed by youth under the age of 18”. From this definition, it is pertinent to highlight the two types of delinquent offences associated with young people, herein referred to as juveniles. The first type of offence is a conduct that would be a criminal law violation for an adult, such as rape, burglary, robbery, etc. The other type of delinquent offence called „status‟ offences are delinquent conducts that do not apply to adults, such as running away from home, truancy, etc (Alemika&Chukwuma, 2001; Alfrey,2010). The origin of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria dates back to the 1920s when youth crimes such as pick pocketing and prostitution became predominant issues in Nigerian newspapers in that period. This ugly trend led to the establishment of judicial administrative processes by the colonial administrators to deal with juvenile delinquents (Fourchard, 2006).It is appalling that the worrisome issue of juvenile delinquency still plagues the contemporary Nigerian society in a serious dimension (Muhammed, Salami , Adekeye, Ayinla and Adeoye,2009). However, the problem of juvenile delinquency is not peculiar to Nigeria. In 2007, the law enforcement agencies in the United States of America reported 2.18 million arrests of juveniles (Alfry, 2010). Alfry also reported that the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics found out that 72% of jailed juveniles came from fragmented families.Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers, and courts. A juvenile delinquent in the United States is a person who is typically below 18 (17 in New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Texas) years of age and commits an act that otherwise would have been charged as a crime if they were an adult. Depending on the type and severity of the offense committed, it is possible for people under 18 to be charged and treated as adults.
According to World Youth Report cited in Sheryln (2008), the rate of criminal activity among juveniles in groups in the Russian Federation is about three to four times higher than that of adult offenders. Motivated by the increasing rate of juvenile delinquency in Britain, Juby and Farrington (2001), examined juvenile delinquency and family disruption in a longitudinal survey of South London males from age 8 to 46. The researchers found out that 29% of the boys from disrupted families were convicted as juveniles compared with 18% of the boys from stable families. It is certain that family disruption was one of the contributory factors to the upsurge of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria.
Juvenile delinquency is also seen as teenage crime. It is like any crime that human beings commit but these crime differ because they are committed by young people. Before coming of age girls and boys have less understanding of the world. Parents, friends and teachers are all responsible along with the juvenile who commit a crime. This is why courts do not punish the teenagers like they punish the adults when they commit a crime. There are separate juvenile courts and the purpose of juvenile punishment is to help the teenager understand the importance of staying away from crimes. There are various theories of juvenile delinquency and various researchers have reported different reasons of delinquency. Most of the delinquent teenagers belong from low social, economical or psychological background. Here the researcher intend to examine the factors that mitigate juvenile delinquency in Nigeria, using mushin local government area as her case study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Juvenile delinquency according to (Muhammed et al 2009)is a major social problem which affects the whole society and constitutes a serious impediment to development in Nigeria. For example in Owerri municipality today, crime is common among the young people, many of who are caught in one criminal act or the other such as examination malpractice, armed robbery, assault, rape, house breaking, forgery, truancy e.t.c. (Nwankwo, Nwoke, Chukwuocha, Iwuagwu, Obanny, Okereke and Nwoga, 2010).
Lack of supervision arising from family instability is linked with juvenile delinquency (Alfrey, 2010). According to Alfrey, children in single-parent families tend to receive lower levels of supervision. Alfred opined that, inadequate parental supervision has a tendency to increase the likelihood of juvenile delinquency. Dogget (2004), has it that when there is one parent living in the home as opposed to two, it is more difficult to supervise children all the time .According to Dogget, every day activities like errands and work must be completed by the single parent, which leaves no parent in the home. Because of this, children in single-parent homes tend to receive lower levels of supervision (Sanni et al, 2010). Lack of parental monitoring contributes not only directly to children‟s anti-social behaviours, but also indirectly as it contributes to exposing them to associate with deviant peers, which is predictive of higher levels of deviant acts (Okorodudu, 2010). From observation, it seems that parents and care givers are not doing much in the supervision of their children in Nigeria because of their numerous economic and social engagements. This scenario tends to be giving impetus to juvenile delinquency in Nigeria and Owerri Municipality in particular.
Muhammed et al (2010) have observed that young people in contemporary Nigeria are mostly involved in armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, drug abuse and other criminal activities. In corroborating this fact, the Imo state commander of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) lamented that the young people were the most involved in illicit drug usage and dealing (Nkwopara, 2011).The consequences of this malady and other juvenile crimes such as; examination malpractice, alcoholism, forgery, rape, e.t.c in Nigeria include; social violence among youths, armed robbery, mental disorders, lack of respect for elders and other numerous social ills. In the light of the nauseating problems of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria and Owerri Municipality, scholars and concerned citizens have attributed the menace to various factors such as; poverty, peer pressure, family instability, drug abuse and so on(Nwankwo et al 2010). While recognizing these other causes, this study seeks to focus on family instability and its contribution to juvenile delinquency because “the family has a crucial role to play in the development of a conforming or delinquent personality (Igbo, 2007:89)”.As a result, this study aims at bridging the gap in studies on juvenile delinquency and also to investigate the factors responsible for juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The priority of this study is to ascertain the factors responsible for juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area. The researcher intend to cover the following sub-objectives in this study:
i) To examine the level and causes of juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area.
ii) To examine how the adolescent’s family background contributes to the causes and levels of delinquency in the area.
iii) To access the school’s contribution to the causes and levels of truancy and juvenile delinquency in Lagos State.
iv) To examine the social and society’s contribution to juvenile delinquency in Lagos State.
v) To proffer possible solutions to the aforementioned problems and challenges in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Based on the above statement of problems in this study, the following research questions will guided the study
1. To what extent does students contributes to juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area?
2. To what extent does juvenile’s family background acts as a contributing factor to truancy and juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area?
3. To what extent does the school environment contributes to the problem of juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area?
4. To what extent does the society contribute to juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant relationship between family setting and juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area
H1: There is a significant relationship between family setting and juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area
H0: There is no significant relationship between peer influence and juvenile delinquencyin Mushin Local Government Area
H2: There is a significant relationship between peer influence and juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
At the end of this study on juvenile delinquency, it findings will be of utmost benefit to both delinquency and non-delinquency teenagers in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. This study will also be of benefits to students and school authority in primary and post-primary section as it serves as a blue print in curtailing the dangers associated with juvenile delinquency as a result of peer groups and social gathering in school. The study will be relevant to those who will want to carry out a similar research topic as it has contributed to the existing literature. Finally, the study will be relevance to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), NYSC Drug Free Club (DFC), and other relevant bodies in combating drug abuse and addiction and juvenile cases in our schools and society at large.Finally, the topic is unique, sensitive and controversial in this era of 21st century teenagers crime cases an involvement, as it will illuminate all this areas.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is a broad one but the researcher only centers on juvenile delinquency in Mushin Local Government Area, Lagos State.In the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some limitations which limited the scope of the study;
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Inadequate Materials: Scarcity of material is also another hindrance. The researcher finds it difficult to long hands in several required material which could contribute immensely to the success of this research work.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Juveniles:Juvenile means Child or young person, or childish.
It may also refer to Juvenile status, or minor (law), prior to adulthood.
Juvenile delinquency: the habitual committing of criminal acts or offences by a young person, especially one below the age at which ordinary criminal prosecution is possible.
Family instability:An alternative explanation of the association between changes in family structure and negative child outcomes is the selection hypothesis, which posits that the association is due to common causal factors reflected in the parents’ antecedent behaviors and attributes.
Juvenile crimes:Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is participation in illegal behavior by minors (juveniles, i.e. individuals younger than the statutory age of majority). Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers, and courts.
Broken homes: broken home is defined as a family that no longer lives together because the parents have divorced. This definition extends to broken marriage which is a marriage that has ended because the husband and wife do not live together anymore.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.