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1.1              Background to the Study

Nearly every society since the dawn of history has looked on youth crime as a serious problem and our society is not different. The underlining philosophy of Juvenile Justice as the history of child welfare in Nigeria became very interesting and a concern for all because it touches the whole society, home/family and all stakeholders. Sociologists have argued that deviant behaviour is a product of the social environment (Adegoke, 2015). The social environment which produces the behaviour might be primary for instance, family and peer group or secondary. For instance, the Society.

            This study considered how both the primary and secondary social environments cause juvenile delinquency. Although, the issue 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. The anti-social behaviour often associated with juveniles includes drug abuse, weapon carrying, rape, examination malpractices, school violence, bullying, cultism to mention but a few. Kudirat, Nsisong, Abayomi, Felicia and Leonard, (2010), were of the view that unless something is done to correct the wave of juvenile delinquency, the prospect of a better, safer, more prosperous and crime free society emerging in Nigeria will remain elusive.

            The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 Section 2 (35) defined Juvenile “as a child below the age of eighteen years (18). In other words, a juvenile is a minor below the legal age (depending on the country) who cannot be held accountable for his\her criminal behaviour.”

            Delinquency is an unwelcomed action, omission or moral behaviour of a Juvenile which is socially not permitted in any society. Hermann (2012) defined delinquency as any “act and conduct which violates the law only when it is committed by children” Siroh (2010)  on the other hand, defined juvenile delinquency as an anti-social act that is illegal or criminalistics in nature, done persistently by a minor and cannot be handled by the parent or guardian but requires the help of law enforcement agencies as the act threatens the well-being of the society. This is because the punishment for crime committed by both adults and juveniles are not often the same (Moffitt, 2006). However, Dantiye and Haruna (2004), perceive delinquency and crime as deviant behaviours that are morally, economically and socially constructed. In other words, delinquency has been variously portrayed and defined as a condition of drift, maladjustment, pathology, disturbance, moral depravity and unruly behaviour.

 Although, in the nineteenth century, the juvenile delinquent was created in the midst of wider concerns about unemployment, lack of discipline and moral degeneration. Juvenile delinquency is the participation in illegal behaviour by minors (individuals younger than the statutory age of majority (Siegel, Larry Welsh, Brandon, 2011). It is viewed as the resistant antisocial, illegal or criminal behaviour by children or adolescent to the level that it cannot be controlled by the parents and it endangers others in the community and becomes the concern of most law enforcement agencies.

The term juvenile delinquency became prominent in many countries so that young law breakers could avoid disgrace of being classified in illegal records as criminals. There seems to be no doubt that various experts have established many theories on the causes and consequences of juvenile delinquency. Baro and Jumalludin, 2005, were of the opinion that modernization has been a party responsible for creating many forms and types of crime.

Based on the confusion over what constitute appropriate behaviour as expected by young people, certain conducts have been identified as a delinquent for juveniles. Such behaviours includes: running away from home, stealing, bullying, drinking alcohol amongst many other such behaviours which are prohibited in the society (Dantiye and Haruna, 2004).

          The Nigerian constitution of 1999 as amended, 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”. However, before a youth in Nigeria can be classified a delinquent, he must have been arraigned before a Juvenile court and proved to be guilty of some offences. Such offences like habitual truancy, drug addiction, prostitution, stealing, cultism and arm robbery to mention just a few.

The causes of Juvenile delinquency are multiple and include peer pressure, parental neglect, parental imitation, genetic or biological factors, poor education, lack of opportunities, media violence, poverty, divorce and child abuse (Miguel, 2017). This has great consequences on the juvenile as well as the society as a whole.

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