Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

School Maladjustment and Family Disruption as Determinants of Youth Criminality: A Study of Male Inmates in a Nigerian Prison

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

School Maladjustment and Family Disruption as Determinants of Youth Criminality: A Study of Male Inmates in a Nigerian Prison

Article excerpt

Introduction

Who is a youth in Nigeria? The National Youth Development Policy (NYDP) in 2001 provided a laconic but generally acceptable definition of a youth in the Nigerian context: youths are people aged between 18 and 35, and they constitute about 40% of the Nigerian population (NYDP, 2001). This suggests that youths are people in the prime of life and thus possess the requisite skills and capabilities needed in the maintenance of social order and progress in society. The youth remains the vanguard of societal development and are deeply involved in law enforcement and social control because of their natural peculiarities (i.e. robustness and vitality) and receptiveness to crime and security trends. Little wonder therefore that the NYDP described youths as the foundation of a society, whose energies, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and security of a nation. Through the creative talents and labour power of the youth, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainments. In their dreams and hopes, a nation founds motivation; on their energies, she builds her vitality and purpose; and because of their dreams and aspirations, the future of a nation is assured (NYDP, 2001; Anasi, 2012).

However, Nigerian youths have betrayed the society and abused the responsibilities and social roles entrusted in their care. They no longer possess the aforementioned attributes, but rather unwisely used them to commit various kinds of crime. In Nigeria, youth crime or youth criminality encompasses such a variety of antisocial conducts as burglary, truancy, cultism, kidnapping, political thuggery, rape and sexual assaults, assassination, vandalism, substance abuse, human trafficking, robbery, murder and other violent crimes. These offending behaviours are usually committed using agility, intense strength and great energies; traits common among youths. Adler, Mueller and Laufer (1991) agreed that the age of offenders is an important socio-demographic variable because it tends to define the type of crime to be involved in, the role to play and the decision for either continuity or to recluse oneself. Onuoha (2010) and Odoemelam and Alozie (2014) revealed that criminal activities involving youths in Nigeria range from kidnapping, hostage-taking, murder, burglary, armed robbery to other violent crimes such as killing, battery and highway shooting.

Agnew (2003) suggested that the peak in criminal activities can be linked to essential features of adolescence and young adults (youths) in modern, industrial societies (as applicable in contemporary Nigeria). This is because adolescents are given most of the privileges and responsibilities of adults in these cultures as well as experience a reduction of supervision. The same source added that youths are predispose to offending due to an increase in social and academic demands, participation in a large, more diverse, peer-oriented social world. Also included in Agnew's classification is an increased desire for adult privileges by adolescents, a reduced ability to cope in a legitimate manner, and an increased incentive to solve problems in a criminal manner. In general, Nigeria has continued to experience a high level of criminality and insecurity owing to the recalcitrant behaviours of the youth in recent times (Ubhenin & Enabunene, 2011; Ogbonnaya, Ogujiuba & Stiegler, 2014; Akanni, 2014).

In Nigeria, crimes of murder, rape, robbery, burglary, battery, aggravated assault, armed robbery and kidnapping are on the increase (Klein, 1999; Akanni, 2014). Youth criminality in the Western world was initially described as illicit behaviour under 'common law' crimes, a term that refers to legal traditions in the form of judges' decisions in Britain (Clinard & Meier, 2008). But common law crimes today include all violent offences such as murder, rape, armed robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and assault. These conventional violent crimes are heinous and threatening to Nigeria's socio-economic and political development (Odoemelam & Alozie, 2014). …

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