Project Topic – THE ISSUES OF JUVENILE DELINQUENCY IN A RELIGIOUS NIGERIAN NATION
1.1 The Background of the Study
It has been a contradiction that Nigeria, a strongly devout society, cannot dismiss the concerns of adolescent delinquency in its history records. Nigeria is a magnificent country endowed with huge advantages and possibilities. Although juvenile delinquency is an age-old issue in Nigeria, it seems that the juvenile delinquency of the past cannot be compared to that of the contemporary day. The troubles have developed into a cankerworm that has spread from juvenile misbehavior to violent crime, putting the country’s security at risk and causing a variety of crises. The persistent rise in juvenile crime in Nigeria, coupled with the abject failure of diverse religious institutions to address the issue, has posed a serious impediment to the country’s economic development, as many “young ones who epitomize the nation’s future” (Ugwuoke, 2010, p.23) are entangled in moral decadence. As a result, juvenile delinquency is considered as a substantial barrier to socioeconomic advancement and a severe danger to national security.
The situation must however be understood against the backdrop of the flaws in fostering a genuine ethical cum religious teachings on the young ones by the diverse religious institutions that scattered across the country. Consequently, the researcher insisted on the need of revisiting the proper functions and the roles of religion by different religious institution in Nigeria which stands to curb the issues of this delinquency. Hence, Omoregbe (2010) noted that “ethical teachings generate certain moral convictions and outlook which in turn influence and guide people’s conduct along certain directions.”(p.12) Obviously, unless something is done to roll back the wave of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria, the prospect of a better, safer and more prosperous society emerging in the country will remain elusive.
Juvenile delinquency has caused much concern in recent time not only because of its rising rate of occurrence, but due to its accompanying implications. Although, most juvenile misconducts are usually considered less harmful than crimes but such conducts easily led to crimes when remedial measures was not applied urgently. Dambazau (2007) enumerated major causes of juvenile delinquency to include “peer pressure, parental neglect, parental imitation, genetic or biological factor, poor education and lack of opportunities, media violence, poverty, child abuse and other similar causes of adult criminal behavior.”(p.339) These causes of delinquency are in line with Nolen-Hoekseme (2001) who also observed that “These criminal behaviours committed by minors are collectively referred to as juvenile delinquency.”
The issues of these delinquencies in Nigeria have thus become an academic concern owing to the damages suffered by its perpetrators. The paramount of the problem according to (Redl and Wineman ,1997,p.286) is that these young ones “often do not see anything wrong in what they do.” The issues of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria cannot be effectively discussed without highlighting the probable social costs of this endemic disease to Nigerian nation. Most uncurbed delinquencies has in recent times, developed into violent crimes which the evidence is manifested in the activities of bombing by the boko haram sect and other violent groups in Nigeria. These violent crimes as noted by Brown (1996) are “those crimes that involve physical injury, destruction of property and socio-psychological costs of trauma”. These crimes specifically include rape, assaults, armed robbery, arson murder, thuggery and political assassinations, bombing and kidnapping.
Therefore, a thorough search on the solution to the issues of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria has called for re-awakening of the roles of religion whose major functions is appealing to the conscience of the juveniles through ethical teachings and building of moral behaviour. It is therefore, worthy of note that children form the bedrock of any society. Adequate protection of this young segment of population is thus a sine qua non for development albeit national security of modern nation states. A nation with high religious pluralism ought to produce less delinquents children consequent upon the fact that religion encompasses sound religious indoctrination and ethical teachings which enthrones moral uprightness in the young ones. Therefore Religions’ role which also include to restores ethical values and rids the society of social vices such as juvenile delinquency and many other forms of evil must be retraced.
1.2 The Statement of the Problem
The issues of juvenile delinquency is an age long problem, it seems that the juvenile delinquency of the past cannot be compared with that of the present era. However, a juvenile delinquent is one who indulges in antisocial behaviour, some of which could be regarded as crime if committed by an adult. The antisocial behaviour often associated with the juvenile delinquents’ include; truancy, cheating, weapon carrying, petty stealing, school drop outs, indecent dressing, cultism, watching of pornographic movies and magazines, small scale pilfering, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, insubordination, sagging, vandalism etc. This act which is juvenile misbehaviour have metamorphosed today to juvenile or youthful exuberance which Nigeria is manifested in such acts as students demonstration, riots, gambling, sports hooliganism, bombing and kidnapping, and so on. Cohen (1965) noted that “these young people usually have related problems; some of them are products of broken homes.”(p.74) The issue of juvenile delinquency is one of the major concerns to families, churches, neighbourhood, schools, law enforcement agencies and the society at large. Children and young person whom the law defines as juveniles are increasingly being introduced and used in serious crimes.
The causative factors of this problem according to Dambazzau (2007) are “peer pressure, parental neglect, parental imitation, genetic or biological factor, poor education, lack of opportunities, media violence, poverty, divorce, child abuse and other similar causes of adult criminal behavior.” The family is under distress because of the ongoing issue. The school system and other socialization institutions are seriously losing the capabilities to inculcate right morals and values in the young ones. Economic pursuits have taken the centre stage that brought about parental neglect. School teachers engage in other transactions at the expense of their profession just to make ends meet. The emergence of ICT with all its benefits, equally impact negatively in these young ones. There are morally debased information items that are posted daily on the internet and these young ones have access to such devastating items of information without restrictions. All these developments tend to increase the emergence of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria and globe.
Many roles have been played by different scholars through different medium and means to put an end to this problem but the fact remains that, there is a global increase of juvenile delinquencies, despite the fundamental efforts put in place by nations of the world and Nigeria as a country to fight this unhealthy phenomenon. The situation must however be understood against the backdrop of the deviation of focus in fostering a genuine ethical cum religious teachings on the young ones by the diverse religious institute that scattered across the country.
1.3 Aim of the Study
The aim of this research is to provide a lasting solution to the issues of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria especially when the country is religiously increasing day by day. Also, there is the need to draw the attention of different religion in Nigeria on their places of loop holes. The aim is also to sift out some areas or roles of religion which seems untouched or unpracticed for the solution of curbing juvenile delinquency and to open a new research area for the upcoming researchers in religion department and beyond who thought that research of this kind could only be done in criminology, social work and sociology alone.
Finally, the researcher aimed at using religion as a veritable tool in solving the problem of crime in Nigeria. Also to prove that amidst most of the theoretical framework provided by other social institutions, that religion institution remained the most outstanding institution left for the provision of solution to the problem of man and the society at large.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This research work will be significant in the following ways;
It will serve as a sigh of a relief to the Nigerian nation in putting a stop to the security threats in the country. It will provide a good leaders of tomorrow in the society because if a child is trained in a good way to follow, he/she will not leave it when grows. It will open the eyes of Nigerians to the security hidden tips of religion in sanitizing of a nation. It will also be an eye opener to the chaotic families who ended up in producing delinquents to the nation to revisit their ancient land mark where they have fallen apart. It will help in the reduction of violent crimes which has threatened the peace of Nigerian nation for long, as evidenced in the activities of Boko Haram. It will also challenge different religions institutions in Nigeria who have deviated from the core roles and functions of religion in a nation. It will help in producing better Nigerian that will always obey the dictates of their conscience which was religiously and ethically nurtured from good parents’ right from childhood.
1.6 Scope of Study
The scope of coverage on this work is anchored on the following;
Geographically, the Federal Republic of Nigeria covers an area of about 923,768 square kilometers in size, consisting 36 states and a Federal Territory (FCT). Structurally, the six geographical zones that make up the country were covered. It was possible because of some scholarly analyses who have earlier worked on the structure of Nigeria. The research work was restricted to Nigeria sequel to the topic which is the issues of juvenile delinquency in a highly religious Nigerian nation. No specific area of the country was targeted, all the areas of the country was handled wholly to avoid missing the core concept of the research hence the research topic centered on Nigerian nation. The three major Religions in Nigeria (Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion) were covered but Christianity was given a specific attention to avoid losing of focus. The work also covered only the silent areas of different religious institute in Nigeria, especially the preaching of sound messages and living a practical life style.
The work however centres on the young people under the ages of eighteen years alone as juveniles and minimally touched crimes in adulthood which transmitted from juvenile stage. The research ended up with recommendation by the researcher where solutions were provided or how to tackle the issues handled in the research work. The scope of this work therefore was pegged through the spectrum of the core roles and functions of religions as the remaining solution to the issues of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria.
1.6 Research Methodology
In the course of this research, the researcher embarked on qualitative research method. Qualitative research aims to gather an in-depth understanding of the concept and reasons that governs such idea. It produces information through exploration only on the particular cases studied. This involves phenomenological method. It also includes; historical, comparative and analytical approaches in using the data collected.
The researcher used a good deal of literature in this regard, information were collated from oral interviews and academic theses as the primary sources while secondary source involves text books, journals, magazines, and News papers. Materials were also gotten from the internets for the completion of this research.
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