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THE EFFECT OF FAMILY STRUCTURE ON RATES OF VIOLENT JUVENILE DELINQUENCY

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 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background of the study

Juvenile delinquency is becoming very prevalent in today’s society. In 2008 there were 6,318 arrests for every 100,000 youths age 10 to 17 in the resident population (Law Enforcement and Juvenile Crime, 2008). In 2009 The Boys Remand Home Oregun ,lagos state handled an estimated 20,000 cases that involved juveniles charged with criminal law violations (Law Enforcement and Juvenile Crime, 2008). Moreover, delinquency is more prevalent today than in the past, as juvenile courts handled 30% more cases in 2009 than in 1985 (Knoll & Sickmund, 2012). While it may be that adolescents are being processed through the system more today rather than actually committing more forms of crime and delinquency (Puzzanchera, Adams, & Sickmund, 2010), adolescents are nonetheless experiencing increased involvement with the criminal justice system creating problems for parents, schools, communities, and other children who are in the presence of juvenile delinquents. In 1960 approximately 1,100 delinquency cases were processed daily. In 2007 juvenile courts handled about 4,600 delinquency cases per day (Puzzanchera et al., 2010). Two of the main factors influencing juvenile delinquency are the family structure that a child is exposed to (Apel & Kaukinen, 2008; Price & Kunz, 2003) and the relationships adolescents have with parents (Leiber, Mack, & Featherstone, 2009; Petts, 2009). As with patterns of juvenile delinquency, family structure in the United States has also changed dramatically over the last century, becoming very diverse in today’s society (Kierkus, Johnson, & Hewitt, 2010). Adolescents of all ages are living in many various types of homes, such as with single, married, and cohabiting parents. The families that children grow up in and the social environment in which they live can have major effects on their well-being (Wallman, 2010). In general, children living in non-traditional households are at a greater risk for a wide variety of negative outcomes including involvement in delinquency (Price & Kunz, 2003) compared to those from married households (Demuth & Brown, 2004). Children in different family structures also experience many forms of monitoring, supervision, involvement, and attachment they receive from their parents (Hoeve, 2009). These factors may also play a role in determining why adolescents turn to juvenile delinquency. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine if there is a difference in delinquency by family structure. It also assesses if monitoring, supervision, involvement, and attachment account for differences in delinquency by family structure. While previous research has examined how family processes may explain differences in the relationship between family structure and delinquency (Demuth & Brown, 2004; Price & Kunz, 2003), a major contribution of this study is the exploration of the extent to which cohabitating families differ from two-biological-parent and other family types. Families are one of the strongest socializing forces in life.  They teach children to control unacceptable behavior, to delay gratification, and to respect the rights of others.  Conversely, families can teach children aggressive, antisocial, and violent behavior (Wright & Wright 1994).  This statement alone could easily explain how the juvenile may end up becoming a delinquent.  Wright and Wright (1994) suggest positive parenting practices during the early years and later in adolescence appear to act as buffers preventing delinquent behavior and assisting adolescents involved in such behavior to desist from delinquency. Adolescence is a time of expanding vulnerabilities and opportunities that accompany the widening social and geographic exposure to life beyond school or family, but it starts with the family.  Research indicates that various exposures to violence are important sources of early adolescent role exits, which means that not only can a juvenile witness violence within the family but on the outside as well (Hagan & Foster 2001).  If violence encompasses all emotionally environmental aspects of the juvenile’s life, he or she is more likely to engage in delinquent activities. A substantial number of children engage in delinquency.  Antisocial and/or aggressive behaviors may begin as early as preschool or in the first few grades of elementary school.  Such childhood misconduct tends to be resistant to change; for example, the parents disciplining more harshly, often predicts continuing problems during adolescence, as well as adult criminality (Prochnow& DeFronzo 1997). In the realm of family functioning there is a theory known as the coercion theory, which suggests that family environment influences an adolescent’s interpersonal style, which in turn influences peer group selection (Cashwell & Vacc 1996).  Peers with a more coercive interpersonal style tend to become involved with each other, and this relationship is assumed to increase the likelihood of being involved in delinquent behavior.  Thus understanding the nature of relationships within the family, to include family adaptability, cohesion, and satisfaction, provides more information for understanding youth (Cashwell & Vacc 1996).  The cohesiveness of the family successfully predicted the frequency of delinquent acts for non-traditional families (Matherne &Thomas 2001).  Family behaviors, particularly parental monitoring and disciplining, seem to influence association with deviant peers throughout the adolescent period (Cashwell & Vacc 1994).  Among  social circumstances which have a hand in determining the future of the individual it is enough for our present purpose to recognize that family is central (Wright & Wright 1994). Referring back to the issue of monitoring, a lack of monitoring is reflected in the parent often not knowing where the child is, whom the child is with, what the child is doing or when the child will be home.  Monitoring becomes increasingly important as children move into adolescence and spend less time under the direct supervision of parents or other adults and more time with peers.  Previous research found that coercive parenting and lack of parental monitoring contributes not only directly to boys’ antisocial behaviors, but also indirectly as seen in the contribution to their increased opportunity to associate with deviant peers, which is predictive of higher levels of delinquent acts (Kim, et al. 1999). Communication also plays a big role in how the family functions.  Clark and Shields (1997) state that the importance of positive communication for optimal family functioning has major implications for delinquent behavior.  They also discovered that communication is indeed related to the commission of delinquent behavior and differences are shown within categories of age, sex, and family marital status.Gorman-Smith and Tolan (1998) found that parental conflict and parental aggressiveness predicted violent offending; whereas, lack of maternal affection and paternal criminality predicted involvement in property crimes.  Familial characteristics suggesting familial antisocial behavior or values such as family history of criminal behavior, harsh parental discipline, and family conflict have been among the most consistently linked.   In another study conducted by Gorman-Smith and her colleagues, data show that children are more likely to resort to violence if there is violence within relationships that they may share with their family (Gorman-Smith, et al. 2001) For family disruption and delinquency, the composition of families is one aspect of family life that is consistently associated with delinquency.  Children who live in homes with only one parent or in which marital relationships have been disrupted by divorce or separation are more likely to display a range of behavioral problems including delinquency, than children who are from two parent families (Thornberry, et al. 1999).  Children who witness marital discord are at greater risk of becoming delinquents.  Previous research has demonstrated associations between exposure to parental divorce and marital discord while growing up and children’s psychological distress in adulthood (Amato & Sobolewski 2001).  Social learning theory argues that aggressive behavior is learned; as parents display aggressive behavior, children learn to imitate it as an acceptable means of achieving goals (Wright& Wright 1994). Juby and Farrington (2001) claim that there are three major classes that explain the relationship between disrupted families and delinquency; trauma theories, life course theories, and selection theories.  The trauma theories suggest that the loss of a parent has a damaging effect on children, most commonly because of the effect on attachment to the parent.  Life course theories focus on separation as a long drawn out process rather than a discrete event, and on the effects of multiple stressors typically associated with separation.  Selections theories argue that disrupted families are associated with delinquency because of pre-existing differences in family income or child rearing methods, for example (Juby& Farrington 2001). The third major area within juvenile delinquency and families is single parent households versus two parent households.  Klein and Forehand (1997) suggest that the prediction of juvenile delinquency in early childhood depends on the type of maternal parenting skills that are imposed upon the child during early adolescence.  Muehlenberg (2002) poses the question of how do children from single parent family homes fare educationally compared to children from intact two parent families? A number of studies have been undertaken which show a very real connection between delinquent and /or criminal behavior, and single parent families. Wright and Wright’s (1994) research shows that single parent families, and in particular mother-only families, produce more delinquent children than two parent families.  Indeed the very absence of intact families makes gang membership more appealing (Muehlenberg 2002). Sometimes the focus is taken off the mother and shifted towards the father.  The lack of emphasis on the role of fathering in childhood conduct problems is especially unfortunate given that there are several reasons why fathers can be expected to be particularly significant in the initiation and persistence of offspring offending.  For example, fathers are particularly likely to be involved with sons who are at higher risk than daughters of delinquent behavior (Flouri& Buchannan 2002).   Popenoe (1997) states that fatherlessness is a major force behind many disturbing US social problems.  The institution of marriage acts as culture’s chief vehicle to bind men to their children.  The absence of fathers from children’s lives is one of the most important causes related to children’s well being such as increasing rates of juvenile crime, depression and eating disorders, teen suicide, and substance abuse.  Two parent households provide increased supervision and surveillance of property, while single parenthood increases likelihood of delinquency and victimization simply by the fact that there is one less person to supervise adolescent behavior (Wright & Wright 1994). Which one of these three major factors contributes to juvenile delinquency the most? They all seem to play a very big role in the life of the child.  Family is very important in creating a law-abiding child.  Separating the influence of these three main categories is a challenge

1.2  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Adolescent crime (delinquency) in Nigeria is a major social problem which affects the whole society and constitutes a serious impediment to development (Osgood, 2014). However, Osgood further stated that young people in contemporary Nigeria are typically involved in stealing, cultism, kidnapping, drug abuse and other felonious activities. According to Sampson (2015) young people were most involved in illicit drug use and the consequences of this disease and other minor crimes such as examination dereliction, alcoholism, phony, rape etc in Nigeria social youth violence, stealing, mental disorders, lack of esteem for elders and the many other social ills (Sampson, 2015). In light of the foul problems of juvenile delinquency in Nigeria, researchers and concerned citizens have attributed the threat to countless issues or some factors such as; paucity, aristocrat pressure, family structure, substance abuse, etc. While acknowledging these other causes, this study strive for the effect of family structure on the rate of violent juvenile delinquency among young people in Lagos since “the family has a vital role to play in the development of a consistent offender or personality (Kim, 2013). According to Alfred, (2012) resulting from inadequate supervision family structure appears to be associated with juvenile delinquency. It has been observed that children in single-parent families tend to receive lower levels of supervision. Alfred also stated that inadequate parental supervision tends to increase the likelihood of juvenile delinquency. Klein (2011) says that when there is a single parent living in the home instead of two, it is more difficult to supervise children at all times and that daily activities such as shopping and the work must be completed by the single parent who leaves no parent at home, because of that children in single-parent families tend to receive lower levels of supervision (Klein, 2011).The lack of parental supervision not only directly contributes to antisocial behavior of children, but also indirectly because it helps expose them to associate with deviant peers, which predicts higher levels of deviant acts (Rex, 2011). From observation, it seems that parents and caregivers do not do much in monitoring their children in Nigeria because of their many economic and social commitments. However, it was also observed that adolescents from broken homes are more likely to run away from their families as children who come from more stable families (Karla, 2011). Karla also explained that a broken home is an imbalance and therefore is detrimental to the socialization and personality of the adjustment of a child. The resulting effect is that the child may be more vulnerable to negative peer pressure and may eventually commit crimes not committed by teenagers from unwavering or stable families where there is a well-adjusted structure of the parents who act as good models in the acquisition of appropriate roles of the child. Children who grow up in unstable families are at greater risk of experiencing a variety of problems in behavior and education, including smoking, drug abuse, vandalism, violence and crime which children from stable families and changes in the family can affect self-control levels in children.

 1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The objectives of the study are;

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

2.   To ascertain the extent to which the teaching and learning of social studies education in secondary schools can cube juvenile delinquency

3.   To find out the impact of other personal characteristics in the promotion of delinquency behavior to lead to low academic performance

4.   To find out workable measures to minimizing the problem of juvenile delinquency in secondary schools

1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher; 

H0:  there is no effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent test in secondary schools.

H1: there is effect of family structure on juvenile delinquency among school adolescent test in secondary schools.

H02: there is no impact of other personal characteristics in the promotion of delinquency behavior to lead to low academic performance

H2: there is impact of other personal characteristics in the promotion of delinquency behavior to lead to low academic performance

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study, which is primarily aimed at explaining the effect of effect of family structure on rate of violence juvenile delinquency, will provide an insight into the problems associated with family structure on rate of juvenile delinquency. This report would be of great benefit for families and schools, to expose them to violence juvenile delinquency. The findings will be useful for researchers to further generate knowledge in the field

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study covers the effect of family structure on rate of violence juvenile delinquency. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study     

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.  

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

For the ease of comprehension of the study, it is necessary for the following

JUVENILE:    A juvenile is an individual that has not yet reached its adult form, sexual maturity or size. Juveniles sometimes look very different from the adult form.

FAMILY STRUCTURE: The family structure is considered a family support system involving two married individuals providing care and stability for their biological offspring. However, this two-parent, nuclear family has become less prevalent, and alternative family forms have become more common. The family is created at birth and establishes ties across generations. Those generations, the extended family of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, can hold significant emotional and economic roles for the nuclear family.

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 who 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

1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study  

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