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This study was aimed at investigating the “Influence of single Parenting on Juvenile Delinquency among adolescents: A Study of Selected Secondary Schools in Uyo”. Four research questions and three research hypotheses were formulated, answered and tested at 0.05 level of significance. The design adopted for the study was the descriptive survey research design and the instrument used was influence of single parenting on juvenile delinquency among adolescent questionnaire (ISPJDAAQ). The population of the study comprised five thousand and ninety three (5093) secondary school students. The sample comprised of 120 students from four schools, each from the four different clans in Uyo local government area. An independent t-test was used to analyze the data collected. The research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation. The finding of the study indicated that economic status and parenting style in single parent homes have significant influence on juvenile delinquency. Also, there is a significant influence of parental gender in the occurrence of juvenile delinquency in single parent homes. Based on the findings, recommendations were made, a chief among them which is the fact that both parents should stay together with their children to ensure that their welfare is properly catered for.



1.1 Background of the Study

Juvenile delinquency is an intractable problem worldwide and has been increasing 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 misconduct, 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 youths 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).

The news report of Friday, 25 October, 1996 on the National Television Authority (NTA) quoted from police reports in Lagos State confirmed that 321 persons out of the 374 arrested for robbery offences in the state were juveniles (Inyang, 2004:2).

Juvenile delinquency is the participation by a minor child, usually between the ages of 10 and 17, in illegal behavior or activities. Juvenile delinquency is also used to refer to children who exhibit a persistent behavior of mischievousness or disobedience, so as to be considered out of parental control, becoming subject to legal action by the court system. Juvenile delinquency is also known as “juvenile offending”, and each state has a separate legal system in place to deal with juveniles who break the law.

Juvenile delinquency is that behaviour on the part of children which may, under the law, subject those children to juvenile court. Tappan (1972:12) asserts that the nature of juvenile delinquency sprang up from different abnormal behaviour such as stealing, drunkenness, burglary, robbery, rape, homicide, idleness, truancy, prostitution, disobedience, running away from home, kleptomanism and sexual promiscuity

The Nigerian constitution of 1979 defines juvenile delinquency as “a crime committed by a young person under the age of 18 years as a result of trying to comply with the wishes of his peers or to escape from parental pressure or certain emotional stimulation’. Before a youth in Nigeria is classified a delinquent, he must have been arraigned before a juvenile court and proved to be guilty of some offences.

Single parent families can be defined as families where a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a larger household, without a spouse or partner. There was a rapid and drastic increase in the number of single-parent families in the latter half of the twentieth century.

This change has been used by some to argue that we are witnessing the breakdown of the family (defined as a married couple residing with their dependent offspring) with negative effects for children, families, and society (Popenoe, 1996). Types of single parent families are generally categorized by the sex of the custodial parent (mother-only or father-only families).

Mother-only families include widows, divorced and separated women, and never-married mothers. In the case of divorce, mothers are usually given custody in the United States and other developed countries. In Italy, in 1997, for example, 90 percent of children whose parents divorced went into the custody of their mothers. Since the vast majority of single parents are mothers, most of the research focuses on female-headed families. However, regardless of sex, single parents share similar problems and challenges (Grief, 1985).

Father- only families formed as a result of widowhood, desertion by the mother, or wives refusing custody. The increase in father-only families is due, in part, to the efforts of fathers to obtain custody of their children.

Single parent families may be described as those families that have only one member of the parents being represented and not both the parent and conventionally, this may imply that either the father or the mother is absent and the children are brought up by the other parent (Cavanaugh, et al.  2006).

According to Deleire, Kalil (2010), a single parent family is a family that appears normal in representation but with the absence of a resident member of the parents being either the mother or the father. Factors such as divorce, separation, death of a parent, unintended pregnancy or birth to unmarried couples, and single parent adoption are the major causes of single parenthood in our society today (Amato, 2000).

Despite the many research studies, regarding the causes of delinquency committed by adolescents of single-parent households, there is still much to learn about this relationship between single parenting and juvenile delinquency.

Indeed, many commentators have expressed alarm about the increase in single-parent families over the past four decades. In Nigeria, 35% of children between ages 0-14 live in single-parent families headed by women (Ezekiel, 2015).

Different background characteristics of single parents such as economic status, parenting styles of discipline and parental gender may have a lot to do with an adolescents’ delinquent outcome. These background characteristics will be discussed in details.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Parenthood is challenging enough even under the best of conditions. So, being a single parent in our society is tasking to say the least. This is because, with one parent, the challenges are multi-faceted. According to Funmilayo Oriyomi (2011), a communicator, “the effects of single parenting are far reaching because it does not only affect the parents, but also the children. In fact, the effects are more devastating on the part of the children because single parenthood leaves them with deep scars”.

Juvenile delinquency is one of the areas which pose problems to the Nigerian Government and the general public. Since the end of the Civil War in 1970, the incidence of juvenile delinquency has increased tremendously in Nigerian towns and cities (Ekong, 2004:5). Truancy among our juveniles has become a problem that almost every family and school has faced. Also, drug addiction has found its way into the Nigerian society and is thriving among the youths. There seems to be an absence of a sense of value to things such as; respect for elders, respect for human life and property, and other things which are traditionally thought to be noble.

Sexual laxity and teenage pregnancy are other areas that demand attention from the adult world. Teenage pregnancy is more rampant now than ever before, with its resultant effect of dropping out of schools; also, leading to an increase in single-parent families.

While recognizing these acts of juvenile delinquency, this study seeks to focus on the impact of single parenting on juvenile delinquency among school adolescents in Uyo because the family has a crucial role to play in the development of a conforming or delinquent personality (Igbo, 2007:89).

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are stated in two fold; a general objective and specific objectives.

The general objective of the study is to examine the influence of single-parenting on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

          The specific objectives are:          

1.     To ascertain the influence of economic status in single-parent homes on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

2.     To examine the influence of parenting style in single-parent homes on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

3.     To establish the influence of parental gender in single-parent homes on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

4.     To ascertain if single-parent homes show greater amounts of juvenile delinquency than two-parent homes in Uyo Local Government.

1.4  Research Questions

For valid conclusions to be drawn in this study, the following research questions have been formulated to guide this study:

a.     What is the influence of economic status in single-parent homes on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government?

b.     What is the influence of parenting style in single-parent homes on juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government?

c.      Does Juvenile Delinquency occur more in Single-Father or Single-Mother homes in Uyo Local Government?

d.     Do single-parent homes show greater amounts of juvenile delinquency than two-parent homes in Uyo Local Government?

1.5  Research Hypothesis

H0₁: There is no significant relationship between economic status in single-parent homes and juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

H0₂: There is no significant relationship between parenting style in single-parent homes and juvenile delinquency among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

H0₃: There is no significant influence of parental gender in the occurrence of Juvenile Delinquency in single-parent homes among adolescents in Uyo Local Government.

1.6  Significance of Study

Lots of findings would be obtained from this study because it would show how single parenthood leads an adolescent to behave in delinquent manners.

It would also show how single parents can cope with the sole responsibility of bringing up their children to become responsible. It would serve as a working tool for single parents to learn how to avert the acquisition of delinquent lifestyles by their kids.

It is necessary to educate the young children who are yet unmarried about the causes and problems of single parenting and its consequences.

This study will be relevant to counselors and social work educators. It will be useful to secondary school management to know the peculiarity of students in terms of behaviour, based on family structure.

1.7  Limitations of the Study

The researcher did experience some level of hesitation for completing the surveys among most of the participants. Some of the participants were concerned that their participation and sincerity in answering the questions would affect how they would be viewed by their teachers, and class mates.

Questions were raised regarding who will see the results of the survey and how the results would be used in the future. Although there was a level of distrust, participants still agreed to take part in the study.

Also, unavailability of sufficient fund limited this research work.

The majority of the participants held the same demographic and socio-economic status that of middle class, self-identified Thai families. If data had been collected on participants from various socio-economic classes and other ethnic groups, there might have been more variance among the participants on how they experience economic difficulties in relation to their standards of living and financial stability.

1.8  Definition of Terms

1.     Influence: The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviour or opinions of others.

2.     Juvenile Delinquents: They are minors, usually defined as being between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed some acts that violate the law. 

3.     Juvenile Delinquency: The participation by a minor child, usually between the ages of 10 and 17, in illegal behavior or activities.

4.     Single-Parenting: This can be defined as when one out of two people who is responsible for the nurturing and child rearing is not available, and the work meant for two people, is now carried out by only one person.

5.     Adolescent: The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 19.

6.     Rape: A type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.

7.     Homicide: The killing of one human being by another.

8.     Stealing: Also known as theft, which is the illegal act of taking another person’s property without the person’s freely-given consent.

9.     Truancy: The intentional, unjustified, unauthorized or illegal action of staying away from school; absenteeism.

10.                        Kleptomanism: Also known as kleptomania is a psychiatric disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to steal things even though there is no personal or financial need for them.

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