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PARENTAL CONTROL MECHANISMS AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: A STUDY OF OTORO COMMUNITY IN ABAK LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1. Background of the Study
Juvenile delinquency has been studied by psychologists, sociologists and philosophers, and has traced the problem behaviour among youths to the home/family background. The parents by virtue of their roles employ various parenting styles, which most of the time affect the personality of the child, the existence of delinquent behaviour has often coursed a rift in the adolescent/parent relationship.
Juvenile delinquency can be viewed as the violation of the legal codes, rules or norms of a society by non-adults who are presumed to be criminally liable for their acts. Naturally, every society frowns at its laws being violated because its survival depends to large extent on the degree of its social control. Consequently any of an increase in the incidence of juvenile delinquency is usually a cause of concern for the citizens of the country involved. After all, the future and continuity of a society depend largely on its younger generation. Such anti-social behaviour perpetuated by the non-adult between 7-18 years according to the young perSlaw, include theft, vagrancy, truancy and
some others. Sociologically, Juvenile delinquency is limited to societies that recognize a period of adolescence created by a slow passage from childhood to adulthood. (Njumogu, 2003 and Adewole, 1991). The Nigerian post war society has witnessed an increasing trends in the maintenance of law and order leading to high rate of juvenile delinquency. The juveniles are the future leaders and work force of this country and they constitute a very significant proportion of the country’s population (Barkere, 1986). For them to play this important role, they must grow up into responsible adult through the nearest agent of socialization- the family. Most delinquents are of average intelligence, energetic, resourceful and creative. (Lar and Adewole, 1991) noted that the delinquents are potential sources of high manpower in the nation of all things if all things are made equal, Studies by Scholars have shown that in the cause of marital breakdown or broken homes which entails the absence of either parents either by separation, death or divorce, the main focus is what quality of life does the child have and the quality includes the type of care, exposure, values, attitude and norms doctrinated into the child, the rights and the wrongs of the society. But it is a general belief that children from broken homes have little or none of these values because they were not given proper attention required when they were young and because of this they cannot distinguish between right or wrong as to why they engage in delinquent activities.
Poverty has to do with the level of income of the delinquent parents.From observations statistics it has been shown that children from poverty sticken families or low income parents with greater number of children are more prone to delinquent behaviour.Most of these families cannot cater for their children such as giving them good education because they do not have the means and as a result such children end up being dropped out of school at very early stage because of lack of funds or poor results.
Unless we understand the juvenile and assist him/her in various aspects of his development, he may not find a positive personality to cope with life’s task. He may result to anti-social behaviour as a coping mechanism.
It is against this background that the researcher wishes to examine the parental (home) factors responsible for juvenile delinquency (Criminality) in the study area and suggest strategies for treatment of such cases.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Juvenile Delinquency has been seen as a very serious social problem in Nigeria. In recent times in Nigeria, there has been much outcry against indiscipline in the society because of the fact that incidence of crime among underage persons is on the increase. This trend constitutes a social problem and calls for measures aimed at reducing the occurrence of delinquency among children because these children might later turn to hardened criminals in the future. In view of the problem posed by juvenile delinquency. It has accreted, the attention of many scholars and social scientist. In the shore run the problem is seen as arising from inadequate so young. Amongst such scholars are Glueck Sheldon and Elearnor (1972) in their study on delinquency found a relationship between inadequate socialization of the children by their parents as a factor for delinquency.
One of the Psyche-factors identified as instrumental to the commission of delinquencies is the family background. For better understanding and appraisal of the family background/parental influence, some schools of thought hold the nature of the family background of an individual child/adolescent as being responsible for the delinquency or otherwise of the children, they argue that children from broken homes where social control mechanisms are weak, are more likely to the delinquent than those from stable homes.
Working on a similar line of socio-cultural characteristics of delinquents (Oloruntimehin, 1970) focused on family structure for the explanation on juvenile delinquency, she sought to determine the extent to which the theoretical and empirical relationships between family structure and delinquency in industrialized societies could be applicable to the Nigeria experience.
Juvenile Delinquency in rural communities, most especially in the area of study is becoming more pronounced given the increasing trend of participant of children and young persons in such crime-related activities such as robbery with or without arms, vandalism, prostitution, sex abuse such as abducting and raping, murder, maiming and various acts of violence and hooliganism. Sexual harassment, cultism, drug use and abuse, like an epidemic, has eaten deep into the fabric of the rural society under study, thus increasing the number of juveniles.
According to Inyang (2004), Ekpo (1996) since the end of the civil war in 1970, the incidence of juvenile delinquency has increased tremendously in Nigerian towns, cities and rural areas. Its dimension and frequency in recent years has assumed a proportion of observation. Juvenile delinquents have become daring in recent times and their menacing activities so widespread that all remedial measures applied seem to have failed to tackle the problem. This is because official policies and measures take for granted the socio-economic situation which delinquency and indiscipline has roots.
This study is therefore an attempt to exploratory assess the parental control factors/mechanisms which predispose children and young persons into delinquent acts. The study is an exploration of how parental factors/control influence the occurrence of delinquent youths and children in Otoro Community in Abak Local Government Area.