Juvenile Delinquency simply means law breaking by young people. The problem of juvenile delinquency has not been an overnight affair. It is as old as humanity itself and has been part of all societies, ours not an exception. Unfortunately, it has in the last couple of years, assumed very alarming proportions in Nigeria. The causes of juvenile delinquency can be examined from four different perspectives:

  • Governmental
  • Domestic/Parental
  • Societal
  • Miscellaneous

Under the first bullet point, first among many factors was the takeover of Mission and other Privately owned Primary, Secondary, and Teachers’ Training Institutions by the Government (both State and Federal) as well as resultant exclusion of moral and religious instructions from the curriculum especially at the formative Nursery/Primary Levels. The de-boarding of virtually all public Secondary Schools following the said takeover, was the very last straw that broke the camel’s back. Even in the recent years that private individuals seem to be running schools in the country more than government, it has been done with profit orientation motive instead of a calling and passion for the work.

It means that secondary school children, hitherto confined to their colleges for at least nine months in a year, were on the road and in their homes all year round. The dangers inherent are better imagined than described. Suffice it to say that their adequate control by both their parents and teachers was sacrificed. Apart from the fact that many parents and teachers are not professional educators, most of them especially the parents, are too busy pursuing what they consider more important than the wholesome education of their children and their morality. Many of the day Primary and Secondary Schools have very unrealistic calendars and timetables which allows so much free time in between end of term examination and start of holidays.

The idle hands/mind, it is said, is the devil’s workshop and adolescents are easier preys of the devil. This is one of the reasons we are now hearing and experiencing terrorism in the country. Another contributory factor has been near absence of guidance and counseling in virtually most of our secondary schools. The importance of guidance and counseling during adolescence cannot be over-emphasized. The dropout/unemployment syndrome is another factor responsible for juvenile delinquency.

Closely linked to this is the over-indulgence of children by many parents. Instances abound where adolescents drive their parents cars freely about, drink, smoke and receive visitors of the opposite sex with open knowledge and collaboration of their parents. There are effects of broken homes and of conflicts in the control approach between most husbands and wives. Many a mother/father who wants to give the impression they love their children more and to remain in their children’s good books, would prefer to close their eyes to these children’s shortcomings /excesses.

The Laissez–fare policy of most parents and their unbridled pursuit of priorities other than education of their children have contributed immensely to the delinquency of most young people. Most parents feel that all that is required of them is to pay fees, while teachers must do the rest – teaching, character-moulding, etc.  Parents especially should realize that they have a major role to play in the overall education of their children since out of 24hrs of the day, their children spend less than eight hours in the care of the teachers.

There are devastating effects of our technologies or jet age. The print and electronic media have brought in their trail very morally debasing publications, pornography, photographs, films etc.

Closely associated with this has been the unhealthy influence of peer groups on the one hand and of the adolescent over the younger ones on the other hand. Experience has shown that juvenile delinquency has been on the increase because the latter group, usually acting under duress as errand boys and girls, are already tools in the hands of the former group. Juvenile delinquency can also be due to some inherent and psychological causes, more often than not, inexplicable.

Finally, there is a so-called claim to the adolescents’ exercise of fundamental human rights as enunciated by the U.N.O (United Nations Organization). Many youths with the acquiescence of most parents, abuse their exercise of these rights without knowing of or by forgetting that there is nothing like absolute freedom. The likely solutions are obvious derivatives from the enumerated causes and can be summarized as follows:-

  • State governments should as a matter of urgency return schools taken over to their previous owners and missions to ensure resumption of teaching of moral and religious instructions (especially at primary level) as a necessary ingredient for self discipline, the bedrock of a disciplined society;
  • As many as possible, if not everybody, should be involved in child training.
  • Guidance and counseling should be made compulsory in all secondary schools.
  • Government should provide immediate opportunities for drop-outs to learn a trade or secure gainful employment.
  • Parents should not over-indulge their children and should not leave the entire job of educating their children to teachers alone. In addition, parents should present a united front in dealing with the shortcomings of their children. All the Agencies responsible for the education of children should help them to avoid the evil influence of our jet age and keep decent company. However, exercise of rights should not be excessive.
  • Finally, children should be taught to appreciate every freedom given to them and know that they also have some responsibilities that go along with such freedom. Where Juvenile delinquency is found to have some psychological effects on the children, parents should seek for appropriate expert advice from relevant professionals and even teachers. 

(Extract from The Guardian, Wednesday September 25, 1985) 


Level 1 A teacher

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