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FAMILY STRUCTURE AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: A CASE STUDY OF UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
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 personhood 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 wellbeing. 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 personswith behaviour problem than two parent families indeed the very absence of intact families makes gang membership more appealing(Muehlinberg, 2002). The problem with Juvenile delinquencyis 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 themto 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 personis 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 stepfamilies to be susceptible to peer pressure and deviant peer relationships, which may lead to later Juvenile delinquency, and girls in stepfamilies may be at increased risk to drug/alcohol use. Because young persons in stepfamilies and single-parent families’ records more negative trait in their lives, behaviour problems may be on the high side and these endangers the society.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The hope of every parent and society is to have the young person grow up responsibly and become good citizens in the society and the nation as well.The rate of juvenile with behaviourproblems in Ukanafun Local Government Area amongpublic secondary schools pupils has given birth to growing concern about the next generations of young persons in society. Each young person found in the public secondary schools in Ukanafun Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State is from a family. The family is said to be the first and the most importance institution of socialization for everyyoung person.It has the responsibility of raising every young person in accordance to the laws, norms, morals and values of our cultures. The rate of crises in the family system has given birth to different family structures which are not favourable to young person’s training. This has created room for increasing Juvenile delinquency among the young people in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The public secondary school teachers are faced with enormous task than what was obtainable in the past 19th century toward the training young persons.Against this backdrop, this research work sought to examine the relationship between family structure and juvenile delinquency.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The general objective of this study was to investigate the effects of family structure on Juvenile delinquencyamong public secondary school students in Ukanafun Local Government Area. This study specifically set out;
- To examine the relationship between divorced home and Juvenile delinquency
- To identify the effects of single parent home onJuvenile delinquency
- To ascertain the relationship between step-parent home and Juvenile delinquency
1.4 Research Hypotheses
i. H1=There is a relationship between divorced home and Juvenile delinquency.
Ho = There is no relationship between divorced home and Juvenile delinquency.
ii. H1=There is a relationship between single parent home and Juvenile delinquency.
Ho = There is no relationship between single parent home and Juvenile delinquency.
iii. H1=There is a relationship between step-parent home and Juvenile delinquency.
Ho = There is no relationship between step-parent home and Juvenile delinquency.
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study was conducted in Ukanafun Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Survey design was used and respondents where randomly selected from randomly selected villages inUkanafun Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. The study variablesincludefamily structure like divorced, single parent, step parent and their effects on the growth of Juvenile delinquency in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Respondents are secondary school students in Ukanafun Local Government Area.
1.6 Significance of the Study
A lot of researches have been conducted onjuvenile delinquencyon young persons. This study intends to embark on research of Juvenile delinquencyamong young persons in UkanafunLocal Government Area. The study findings will assistin makinguseful recommendation to parents, social control agencies and school teachers on how to assist young person with behaviour problem. The findings of this study will also contribute to the knowledge on juvenile behaviour problems. It will also serve as a source of reference for further academic research to otherresearchers who in future intend to conduct research on Juvenile delinquencyamong young people.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
This study had some challenges which the researcher came in contact with in the course of gathering the necessary data for the study. One of such is insufficient funds: the researcher did not have enough fund to engage field assistants for the survey within a specified period of time. Another major challenge faced by the researcher in the course of the gathering data was the school holiday which made it a little more difficult in reaching the targeted study participants. Raining season was another challenge in which the study took place. The rain posed a serious challenge as it disturbed the researcher’s effort to reaching the respondents. Also was the limited time which the researcher had to use for the study was a challenge.