AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE PATTERNS AND CAUSES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY AS EXPRESSED BY SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
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Background to the Study
Adolescence is a developmental transition between childhood and adulthood.
It is the period of puberty until full adult status is attained. Dorn and Biro (2011) defined adolescence as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood, from ages 10 to 19.
It represents one of the critical transitions in the life span and is characterized by a tremendous pace in growth and change that is second only to that of infancy.
The biological determinants of adolescences are fairly universal; however, the duration and defining characteristics of this period may vary across time, cultures, and socio-economic situations (Dorn & Biro, 2011).
Most secondary schools students are in the adolescent stage.
The adolescent has needs and problems that arise from organic, psychological and social pressures.
These pressures in turn exert influences on them, which make them exhibit behaviors that are not in consonance with societal norms leading to delinquency (Onyejiaku, 1991).
According to Isangedighi (2008), delinquency is a behavior that involves retraction from rules that govern behavior among adolescents. Delinquency on the whole is not an easy concept to define due to it complex characteristics.
However, delinquency has been from time immemorial a social evil. These delinquent behaviors consist of acts that violate the laws of the society.
Delinquency has been variously portrayed and defined as a condition of drift, maladjustment, pathology, disturbance, moral depravity and unruly behaviour (Alemika ,et al 2001).
Alemika further contributed that the definition of juvenile delinquency as well as concern about its manifestation, and control are influenced by a configuration of historical, political, social and economic conditions. Therefore, juvenile delinquency is broadly defined to any act in violation of criminal law, committed by a person defined under law as a juvenile, which if had been committed by an adult will be treated as crime or criminal conduct (Muncie, 1999).
Alemika et al (2001) define Juvenile as the violation of the criminal codes regulating the behavior of young persons in the society.
Juvenile crime is usually termed delinquency (Jayamala 2008). In addition, Onyehalu (2003) argues that any departure from the accepted norms by people who are not yet adult is delinquency.
However, Bingham; Shope, and Raghunathan (2006) refer to such behaviors which are socially proscribed or prohibited as problem behaviors.
Any behavior that falls short of societal norms, values, beliefs and expectations are undesirable behaviors (Okorodudu & Okorodudu 2003). Juvenile delinquency is noted by Ekojo and Adole (2008) as gang delinquency.
Okorodudu (2010) further defines gangs delinquent as a group of adolescents and youths that exhibit criminal behavior.
Delinquent behavior could exist in different forms or patterns. Patterns of delinquent behaviors refer to forms or practices in which adolescents’ delinquency exists. It means different ways by which delinquent behavior manifest in the dealings and activities of adolescents.
For example, Sanni, Nsisong, Abayomi , Modo and Leonard (2010) associated adolescents’ delinquent behaviors to vandalism, drug abuse, weapon carrying, alcohol abuse, rape, examination malpractices, school violence, and bullying, cultism, truancy and school drop-outs and so on.
Onyejiaku (1991) stressed that delinquency covers an enormous rage on crime including felonies such as robbery, assault or misdemeanors such as loitering and behaviours that are illegal.
Eke (2004) categories delinquent behaviors into two, that which frequently feature across towns and cities in Nigeria.
These are Criminal and Status offences.
The criminal offences include stealing, arson, rape, drug offences and murder, burglary, pick pocket, and armed robbery. However, she listed status offences to include; running away from home, malingering and truancy.
On the global scale, Armando (1989) classified youth gangs or delinquency into four types: criminal, conflict, retreats, and cult/occult gangs.
Criminal gangs have a primary goal, that is, material gain through criminal activities such as theft of property from people or premises, extortion, fencing, and drug trafficking.
Conflict Gangs engage in violent conflict with individuals of rival groups that invade their neighborhood or commit acts that they consider degrading or insulting.
Retreatist gangs focus on getting “high” or “leaded” alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin or other drugs. Individuals tend to join this type of gang to secure continued access to drugs.
Cult/Occult Gangs engage in devil or evil worship cult which refers to systematic worshipping of evil or the devil; occult implies keeping something secret or hidden or a belief in supernatural or mysterious powers.
Similarities in the basic characteristics of juvenile group behavior are found in almost every class and cultural context.
Juvenile peer groups are noted for their high levels of social cohesiveness, hierarchical organization, and a certain code of behavior based on the rejection of adult values and experience.
The subcultural aspect of juvenile group activities is rarely given the attention it deserves (The World Youth Report, 2003).
Different juvenile groups adopt what amounts to a heterogeneous mix, or synthesis, of predominant (class-based) values, which are spread by the entertainment industry, and intergenerational (group-based) values, which are native to the family or neighborhood.
Subcultures can be defined as particular lifestyle systems that are developed in groups and are in structurally subordinate positions as a result of pressure exerted by the predominant systems (The World Youth Report, 2003).
Some of the reasons or causes of adolescents’ juvenile delinquency as identified by Eke (2004) and Okorodudu (2010) unmet needs of youths by the family, neighborhood or traditional community institutions (such as the schools, police, recreational and religious institutions) and government.
Factors, in the home environments, like poverty, ill-treatment, alcoholic parents, broken family life, may drive the juvenile to the streets to commit delinquencies.
Family attitudes, like overprotection, rejection, lack of love, lack of response from parents, lack of suitable ideal and lack of discipline may also drive a child to criminal activities (Jayamala, 2008).
Researches indicate that the family environment is an important variable in the development of delinquency.
Gorman-Smith, and Tolan (1998) discovered that parental conflicts and parental aggressiveness predicted involvement in property crime.
Wright and Wright (1995) study shows that single-parent families produce more delinquent children than two-parent families. Many researchers agree that the foundation of adolescent delinquency is rooted in the kind of home the adolescent is brought up (Utti, 1996; Odebunmi, 2007; Otuadah, 2008).
The basis for good behavior orientation and good adolescents’ attitude development is founded on positive parenting.
Okpako (2004) stated that the parents should be blamed and be made to take responsibility for the misfortunes that befall the adolescents.
Obinyan (2004) opined that the two oldest most widely accepted conclusions in criminology are first, that involvement in crime diminishes with age and second, that males are more likely than females to offend at every age. Youngsters between the ages of 8 and 14 begin to confide less in parents and more in peers and to be more influenced by those peers for assistance in making decisions about what behavior to adopt (Paikoff & Brooks-Gun, 1991).
There is a huge variation in age factor of adolescent from one society to another. Arrests data show that the intensity of criminal behavior slackens after the teens and it continues to decline with age. Much research indicate that males are more likely to participate in crime compared to females (Chisney-Lind, 1997; Snyder & Stickman, 2006) and that individual offending rates tend to peak in late adolescence then drop off in early adulthood (Blumstein & National Research Council 1986).
Juvenile delinquency is a complex problem that exacts a substantial and continuing toll on the society (Mulvey, 1997).
Brown (1998) opined that juvenile delinquency is one of the many serious social problems some children confront on a regular basis and that there physical, psychological and financial cost to society.
The consequences of delinquency will forever change the lives of the offenders and their victims. Brown (1998) posited that the concern about juvenile crime is widely shared by the federal, state and local government officials and by the public. Hence, radical steps have to be taken in order to curb this problem.
The manifestation of delinquency among secondary school students has remained an age long problem in the Nigerian secondary school system. In a study carried out by Ajake, Etuk and Omori (2010), it was shown that there is a high rate of school complains about student’s delinquency.
The extent to which parents and other adults in the family make provision for the holistic growth of their adolescent, with the view of curbing societal ills has generated a lot of concern in the contemporary Nigeria as a whole. Increased attention is being given to the ability of individual and family to successfully remedy the negative impact of delinquency.
It is against this background that this study deems it fit to investigate the patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area, Oyo State.
Statement of the Problem
In the past four decades and so there has been increasing concern about the behaviors that children exhibit in schools (particularly in the middle and high schools).
The school authority has blamed adolescent students for increased disorder and crime without acknowledgement of the multiple risk factors that may have cause juvenile delinquency.
Increase in juvenile delinquency, high rate of early school dropouts in both girls and boys, increase in the numbers of street children and high rate of crime, continue to elicit concerns in the community.
The threat of indigent on streets across the cities in Nigeria is a social problem to the general public and the government (Okorodudu, 2010) as delinquent activities are assuming dangerous tendencies which threaten life, property, individuals’ well-being, peace, security, social order and are eventually, reducing the citizens’ quality of life.
For example, adolescents engagement in inter-school fight recently in Ibadan, a city in one of the South-Western States in Nigeria could have passed for a mere inter-school rivalry, but for the use of dangerous weapons such as knives, cutlasses and charms; it was reported that severe injuries were sustained not only by the fighting students but by passers-by in that neighborhood (Aremu, 2012).
Studies have been conducted on juvenile delinquency, for instance, Hoeve, Dubas, Eichelsheim, Laan, and Jan (2009) carried out a meta-analysis study on the relationship between parenting and delinquency.
The study found strong link among parental monitoring, psychological control and negative aspects of support such as rejection and hostility, accounting for up to eleven percent of the variance in delinquency.
Ekpo and Ajake (2013) studied family socio-economic status and delinquency among senior secondary school students in Calabar South, Cross River State. The study found that family socio-economic status and the educational level of parents significantly influences student’s delinquency.
Also, delinquent behavior observed among students is traceable to the fact that most parents are poor.
These previous studies did not focused on patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency.
This is the gap the researcher intends to fill by investigating the patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area, Oyo State.
The following research questions are raised to guide the conduct of the study:
1. What are the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area?
2. What are the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area?
3. Is there any difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of gender?
4. Is there any difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of gender?
5. Is there any difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of age?
6. Is there any difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of age?
7. Is there any difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of residential area?
8. Is there any difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of residential area?
Based on the research questions, the following research hypotheses are formulated:
1. There is no significant difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of gender.
2. There is no significant difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of gender.
3. There is no significant difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of age.
4. There is no significant difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of age.
5. There is no significant difference in the patterns of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of residential area.
6. There is no significant difference in the causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area on the basis of residential area.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to investigate patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area, Oyo State.
The study also examined the influence of variables such as gender, age and residential area on the patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency as expressed by secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area, Oyo State.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of immense benefits to the students, school authorities, parents, school counsellors and counsellors under training.
The findings of this study would be of great benefit to secondary school students in Ibarapa Local Government Area by becoming aware of the patterns and causes of juvenile delinquency behaviours among their co-students and its consequences on them, their family and the society at large so that they may abstain from any causes of delinquent behavior.
The findings would also help students to realize their potentials and thereby enable them to contribute to the development of the country through their productivity and hence become good citizen.
The findings of this study would help the school administrators, non-teaching and teaching staff saddled with the responsibility of understanding the patterns and causes that are responsible for juvenile delinquency behavior’s and also equipped them with strategies to treat students with the problem of juvenile delinquency.
For instance, this study aims at revealing the psychological conceptions of those considered juveniles and help provide insight into their way of life.
This in turn could offer the teachers a better means of understanding students and may also assist in putting up programs that will help to treat with juvenile students instead of casting them out.
The result of juvenile delinquency behaviors in school may be used by parents and members of the society in coming up with measures that can be employed to prevent delinquent behaviors and ensure that their children refrain from any acts of delinquent behavior.
The finding of this study would provide professional counsellors with the understanding of the factors responsible for the causes of juvenile delinquency behavior and creating suitable counselling strategies that will help them in dealing with the problem of delinquent behavior in schools.
The counsellors under training would also benefit from the findings of this study as the knowledge of delinquent behavior is rarely provided during undergraduate training.