The Effect Of Family Structure On Juvenile Delinquency Among School Adolescent

  • Ms Word Format
  • 75 Pages
  • ₦3000
  • 1-5 Chapters




The Effects of Family Structure on Juvenile Delinquency by Studies show that family structure is an important factor in explaining delinquency among adolescents (Price & Kunz, 2003). There is a lack of research, however, pertaining to cohabitation. The main goals of this study are to determine if there are variations in delinquency between cohabitating and other family types, and to examine the extent to which parental social control measures account for the variation in delinquency by family structure. Juvenile delinquency is seen as one of the menace that destroys life and property in our society today. Because of the nature of crime committed by juvenile parents, guidance, sponsors and well-wishers are worried and disturbed about our future leaders. Crime associated with juvenile include: rape, stealing, Kleptomanism, burglary, disobedience, homicide, truancy, vandalization and robbery etc. therefore, this study seeks to look at the nature and consequences of juvenile delinquency. The objective of this study aims at finding out why juvenile engage in delinquent act, why juvenile offenders continue in crime after being punished or sanctioned, what Nigeria government needs to do in order to improve or educate juvenile about crime and the negative impact of crime on individual and society at large. However, the expected outcome of this study is that to reduce or eradicate juvenile delinquency in our society government and voluntary organization should be involved in the following ways: Government should provide employment opportunities for youths, greater thought should be given to setting up more amenities in the rural areas, stoppage of pornographic films and some American films, where our youths learns techniques in stealing and destroying properties, parents should adopt method of positive and negative reinforcement and government should educate or enlightening parent on the effects of unmet needs like starvation (food), parental care and affection etc. on their children to enable them (parents) make adjustment. Method of data collection used in this study was only questionnaire.




Juvenile delinquency is an intractable problem worldwide and has been increasing phenomenally 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 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/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). 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.

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. The researchers concluded that family disruption was one of the contributory factors to the upsurge of juvenile delinquency in Britain.

In Kenya, Muola, Ndugu and Ngesa (2009) cited in Kimani (2010) in a study of the relationship between family functions and juvenile delinquency in Nakuru municipality in Kenya found out that the incidences of juvenile delinquency have increased in recent years in Kenya. Juvenile delinquency was found be significantly related to family instability and mode of discipline. The researchers suggested that there was a relationship between family structure and juvenile delinquency in Portharcourt.

Fourchard (2006) has also decried the increasing trend of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria, attributing the upsurge to familial factors amongst contributory variables. In view of the foregoing issues and trends globally and locally, many researchers agree that the foundation of juvenile delinquency is rooted in the kind of home the child is brought up (Okorodudu, 2010; Igbo, 2007).

Muhammed et al (2009) have observed that family instability is on the increase in Nigeria and that the increasing crime trends among the youths may be attributed to this. Based on the foregoing, this study aims at examining the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school in Nigeria with focus on Portharcourt municipality.


Juvenile delinquency in Nigeria is a major social problem which affects the whole society and constitutes a serious impediment to development (Muhammed et al 2009). For instance in Portharcourt 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). 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 Portharcourt Municipality, scholars and concerned citizens have attributed the menace to various factors such as; poverty, peer pressure, family structure, drug abuse and so on(Nwankwo et al 2010). While recognizing these other causes, this study seeks to focus on the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent in Portharcourt because “the family has a crucial role to play in the development of a conforming or delinquent personality (Igbo, 2007:89)”.

Inadequate supervision arising from family structure seems to be associated with juvenile delinquency (Alfrey, 2010). Alfrey further explained that those children in single-parent families tend to receive lower levels of supervision. According to him, this 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 Portharcourt Municipality in particular. Children from broken homes are more likely to run away from their family than children who come from more stable families (Uwaoma & Udeagha, 2007).Uwaoma and Udeagha further explained that a broken home has an imbalance and as a result is detrimental to a child‟s socialization and personality adjustment. The resultant effect is that a child may be more vulnerable to negative peer pressure and may ultimately commit delinquent acts not committed by children from stable families where there is a balanced structure of two parents who act as good role models in the child‟s acquiring proper roles (Odebunmi, 2007).

Children growing up in unstable families are at a greater risk of experiencing a variety of behavioural and educational problems, including; smoking, drug abuse, vandalism, violence and criminal acts than children from stable families (Sheryln, 2008). According to Sheryln, changes in the family can affect the levels of self-control in children.

The transitions in the family structure also lead to changes in the organization, monitoring and disciplining of the children. If the changes are widespread, the resulting changes in the adolescents‟ levels of self-control will likely lead to anti-social behaviours (Mullens, 2004). Single-parent families are often financially vulnerable as compared to two-parent families. This unfortunate economic circumstance can draw these families to disorganized neighbourhoods where crime and delinquency are rampant (Alfrey, 2010). The implication according to Alfrey is that the children may be exposed to learning delinquent behaviours and they may also be enticed into joining delinquent gangs. It is the opinion of the researcher that financial vulnerability may also be a source of strain to children in single-parent families. Hence, they may not have some of their needs met by their single parent. The effect is that children in such a situation may be pushed to engage in theft, extortion and other delinquent actions to make ends meet.

Muhammed et al (2009) have also attributed the rise of anti-social behaviours among young people in Nigeria to family instability among other factors. They noted that children from unstable families have multiple behavioural problems which impel them to engage in delinquent behaviours. This, according to them is because the warmth, direction, love and protection which the parents would have provided for them are lost and then sought in anti-social behaviours such as drug abuse.

However, there seems to be a controversy on the relationship between family structure and juvenile delinquency. While Alemika and Chukwuma‟s (2001) study, among other studies found no relationship between broken homes and juvenile delinquency, Kimani‟s (2010) study found a positive relationship between broken homes and juvenile delinquency. As a result, this study aims at bridging the gap in studies on juvenile delinquency and also to ascertain the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent in Portharcourt municipality.


The purpose of this research is to find out the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent in portharcourt. Specifically the focus of the research is based on the following objectives:

i)   To find out the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent test in secondary schools.

ii)  To ascertain the extent to which the teaching and learning of Social Studies Education in secondary schools can cube juvenile delinquency.

iii)  To find out the impact of other personal characteristics in the promotion of delinquent behaviour to lead to low academic performance.

iv)  To find workable measures to minimizing the problem of juvenile delinquency in secondary schools.


The following research questions were drawn from the statement of the problem presented above:

  1. What is the difference between the academic performance of students who always come late to school and that of those who come early?

  2. Is there any difference between the academic performance of students who are gang fighters and that of those who do not fight?

  3. What is the difference between the academic performance of students who always make noise in the class and those who are always attentive?


The following Null hypotheses are formulated for test;

  1. There is no significant difference between the academic

Performance of delinquent and non-delinquent students before and after treatment.

  1. There is no significant different between the academic performance of delinquent students with parents who are literate and illiterate parental background in the experimental group.

3 There is no significant difference in the level of delinquency among students based on age group.


This study is based on the following assumptions:

1.  Delinquent and non-delinquent students have equal opportunities of learning within the school.

2.  It is assumed that all delinquent students fail academically.

3.  Delinquent and non-delinquent students are taught by qualified teachers.

4.  Family structure has negative effect on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent


The study looks at the effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent in Portharcourt. In all ramifications, the study does not claim the fact that all Nigerian juvenile are criminals or culprits or law violators so to say.

The study is very beneficial to learning and development processes and helps our adolescent to be aware of those things that may lead them to delinquent acts and avoid them. The study will also help parents, guidance, and sponsors etc to know those things they need to do in order to prevent their children from so called delinquent acts.

The study goes a long way to unleash those things our government needs to do in order to educate our juvenile and prevent them from future delinquent acts. In conclusion, this study is significant because it seeks to determine to what extent juvenile commit crime, why they continued in delinquent act and as well as the result of their delinquent acts to themselves and society at large.


Juvenile: This refers to a person who has attained the age of 14 but is under 17 years. That is a young person who is not yet an adult (Oxford English Dictionary).

Delinquent: It is a person who deviates from or violated the stipulated law that guides code of conduct of a particular country or society.

Juvenile Delinquency: Andy (1960:30) defined it as any social deviation by a youth from the societal norms which results in his contact with law enforcement agents. It is an act committed by a young person which violated the stipulated law of that country or society.

Burglary: It is defined as a crime of entering a building illegally and stealing things from it.

Robbery: It is defined as a crime of stealing money or goods from a bank, shop/store, person etc especially using violence or threat. 8

Rape: This is simply a crime of forcing somebody to have sex with him/her especially using threat or violence.

Homicide: This simply means a crime of killing somebody deliberately.

Stealing: This means an act of taking something from a person’s shop/store, etc. without permission and without intending to return it or pay for it.

Truancy: This simply means a practice of staying away from school without permission. It is a crime to juvenile.

Disobedience: This is defined as a failure or refusing to do what a person, law, order etc. tells.

Kleptomanism: It is simply a mental illness in which somebody has a strong desire, which they cannot control in stealing things. It is common among juvenile.

Family structure: this is a composition and membership of the family and the organization and patterning of relationships among individual family members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like