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INFLUENCE OF SINGLE PARENTING ON JUVENILE DELINQUENCY AMONG ADOLESCENTS IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOL IN UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
1.1 Background of the Study
Juvenile delinquency is an intractable problem worldwide and has been increasing by as much as 30 percent since the 1990s (World Youth Report, cited in Sheryln, 2008). Anti-social behaviours of young people have been posing a lot of problems to the wellbeing of the people in 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 misconduct, 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 youths 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/children. 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).
The news report of Friday, 25 October, 1996 on the National Television Authority (NTA) quoted from police reports in Lagos State confirmed that 321 persons out of the 374 arrested for robbery offences in the state were juveniles (Inyang, 2004:2).
Juvenile delinquency is the participation by a minor child, usually between the ages of 10 and 17, in illegal behavior or activities. Juvenile delinquency is also used to refer to children who exhibit a persistent behavior of mischievousness or disobedience, so as to be considered out of parental control, becoming subject to legal action by the court system. Juvenile delinquency is also known as “juvenile offending”, and each state has a separate legal system in place to deal with juveniles who break the law.
Juvenile delinquency is that behaviour on the part of children which may, under the law, subject those children to juvenile court. Tappan (1972:12) asserts that the nature of juvenile delinquency sprang up from different abnormal behaviour such as stealing, drunkenness, burglary, robbery, rape, homicide, idleness, truancy, prostitution, disobedience, running away from home, kleptomanism and sexual promiscuity
The Nigerian constitution of 1979 defines juvenile delinquency as “a crime committed by a young person under the age of 18 years as a result of trying to comply with the wishes of his peers or to escape from parental pressure or certain emotional stimulation’. Before a youth in Nigeria is classified a delinquent, he must have been arraigned before a juvenile court and proved to be guilty of some offences.
Single parent families can be defined as families where a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a larger household, without a spouse or partner. There was a rapid and drastic increase in the number of single-parent families in the latter half of the twentieth century.
This change has been used by some to argue that we are witnessing the breakdown of the family (defined as a married couple residing with their dependent offspring) with negative effects for children, families, and society (Popenoe, 1996). Types of single parent families are generally categorized by the sex of the custodial parent (mother-only or father-only families).
Mother-only families include widows, divorced and separated women, and never-married mothers. In the case of divorce, mothers are usually given custody in the United States and other developed countries. In Italy, in 1997, for example, 90 percent of children whose parents divorced went into the custody of their mothers. Since the vast majority of single parents are mothers, most of the research focuses on female-headed families. However, regardless of sex, single parents share similar problems and challenges (Grief, 1985).
Father- only families formed as a result of widowhood, desertion by the mother, or wives refusing custody. The increase in father-only families is due, in part, to the efforts of fathers to obtain custody of their children.