Implication of Arital Divorce on Juvenile Delinquency

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The concurrent rate of juvenile delinquency in our society today indicates that there are some dysfunctional trends in the family setting which encourages this menace. Family serves as one of the strongest socializing forces in a person’s life. They help teach children to control unacceptable behavior, and to respect the rights of others. Whether dwelling together or separated, the family constitutes a fundamental social unit, consisting of the parent(s) and their offspring. Parents play a vital role in the emotional growth of children. They help them define who they are as human beings and influence how each adapts to societal norms. The home is the first place children discover the importance of values and what it means to belong.

However there are several influential variables, but for the purpose of this research work I will focus on three main categories which encompasses these variable. These categories are family functioning, impact of family disruption, and two parent versus single parent households.

All of these aspects of family are very crucial to the upbringing of a child and could lead to delinquent behaviors if the family is not functioning “properly.” Properly in this context is defined as a two parent, violent free and openly communicating household. Juveniles who live in unstable homes and social environments are deemed to be at-risk children because of their vulnerability to detrimental influences. Depending on the degree and type of influences, parent’s socio-economic status can induce antisocial behavior often resulting in criminally deviant behavior in later life. Juvenile delinquency has been one of the greatest social problems to the world.

Children who are rejected by their parents, grow up in homes with considerable conflict, and are inadequately supervised are at greatest risk of becoming delinquents. There appears to be a cumulative effect such that the presence of more than one of these negative families attributes further increases the likelihood of delinquency. Not all children follow the same path to delinquency; different combinations of life experiences may produce delinquent behavior. Positive parenting practices during the early years and later in adolescence appear to act as buffers preventing delinquent behavior and assisting adolescents already involved in such behavior in desisting from further delinquency (Wright and Wright, 1994.)

Divorce can make a child have feelings of anger, resentment and confusion, which can alter the child’s ability to form meaningful relationships (Hines, 2007). This is one impact divorce can take on adolescents, after a parental divorce. It is hard for adolescents to understand this process, while trying to figure out who they are themselves. Family structure plays an important part in helping an adolescent adjust and understand to the changes in their life and body. It has been shown in prior studies that family structure is one of the factors that influence an adolescent’s success (Hines, 2007).

Divorce in Nigeria is not always a fun topic; in fact, most people shy away from it and see divorce as a taboo topic. Even our national bureau of statistics has somehow placed divorce statistically far lower than what it is in reality. Unfortunately, divorce is the reality of the world we live in, that some couples after getting married will decide for whatever reason that they do not want to carry on with their marriage and want a divorce. Children of divorced or separated parents’ exhibit increased behavioral problems, and the marital conflict that accompanies parents’ divorce places the child’s social competence at risk. However in recent times in Nigeria, divorce is increasing with certain types of lifestyles and movements that have satiated the society such as increasing spousal irresponsibility, career woman ideology, and feminism amongst others. The popular mindset in recent times seems that people have a large percent of nudge about divorce before or while them getting into marriage. (Tribuneonline.com November 2018)

Over the years, in Nigeria, religion has played a critical role in marriage and divorce. Marriage is seen as a sacred alliance of two souls that is blessed by the Lord. Before some men marry under traditional religion, they would consult the oracle to enquire the long-time feasibility of the marriage. Some Christians also enquire from God through pastors or prophets. Likewise, some Muslims consult imams before marriage. Irrespective of the religious stance of divorce, there are many who perceive it as a normal way of life. A growing number of expert observers conclude that high divorce rate is due to a number of social changes that are the cause rather than the consequence of divorce-law reform.

Adverse Influence of In-Laws is another factor. In African society, in-laws are considered part of the family. A married daughter’s parents should be able to visit their daughter’s house at will. The husband is encouraged to establish a friendly relationship with his in-laws. It is expected that this healthy relationship will help to improve their relationship. It is true that partners should endeavor to cultivate a cordial relationship with their in-laws, and this should be done in such a way that the feelings of both parties are not hurt, but respected. However, it should be noted that some in-laws have helped to disintegrate some families.(Oforchukwu, 2010).

Toke makinwa and Maje Ayida in their article titled “eight reasons why divorce seems to be high in Nigeria”, lists sexual issues, superiority complex, rushing into marriage, infidelity, financial issues, infertility, westernization, and poor communication as a major causes of divorce in Nigeria.

According to report from some Abuja based lawyers the rate of divorce is alarming, which fosters their belief that most people know little or nothing about marriage before getting themselves involved. A record obtained from an FCT high court shows that twenty four divorce cases were filed from January to March in that court alone. According to an article in Nigeria tribune titled divorce epidemic in Lagos, indicates that there are thirty thousand cases in Badagry alone which indicates that marriages don’t last in that area. This has however led to the increase of juvenile delinquency as the affected children of these divorced homes engage in substance abuse and other social vices. (Tribuneonline.com, 2018)

Divorce in northern Nigeria towns like Kano, Zaria Katsina, bauchi etc seems to be on the increase. Most women in these towns are emotionally drained due to the cruel nature of their marriage. Most of these women are married off in early age usually when they are still children with little or no experience about the dynamics of the society.

The poorer ones are married off early just to bring financial ease to her parent. These women are mostly house girls in their houses as they only stay at home without really living their dream lives. This factor alone drives most of them to be inquisitive thereby causing them to search some information on social media and internet which in turn leads to divorce. (Premiumtimes online 2019). Domestic violence is another factor that leads to divorce in Nigeria. There are men that practice this acts which are in various forms like disrespect and cruelty, violence and total control restrictions, humiliation and beatings amongst others. Domestic violence is one of the most serious problems that lead to divorce at any stage. It however requires special attention and a tactical approach in order for it to be curbed to its lowest ebb (Naija.com online, 2018)

People are always deceived by physical appearance or maybe wealth or some other secondary attributes without really understanding the real reason for marriage, when life challenges occur in the course of their marriage the first and most times the only option is divorce because what binds these couples together are very trivial. Once one jump into marriage without taking the right steps and understanding their spouse through courtship and other apparatus, failure is indeed inevitable. In some cases what you see at times are marriages arranged by parents for their children, which happens mainly amongst the elites, and they tend to dictate to them how to live their lives.

”The consequences is what we see playing out now where couples cannot tolerate one another because there is always a third party in their marriage” (daily tribune online 2018) Lack of love, laziness and irresponsibility in recent times has led to divorce in some Nigerian homes, while some people traced their reason for divorce to spouse being fetish. Nigeria is actually known to be highly religious with Christianity and Islam as the major religion but that does not mean other forms of religion do not exist. Recently a popular film producer by name Kunle Afolayon was called out by his wife for being fetish and said she wanted divorce. That is just one out of many who apparently have not been publicized.

Nowadays, Nigerian couples are separating more and more. Separation rates in 2018 saw a 14% increase across the whole population. When you look closely at the modes of separation, you will agree that the process and conditions leave much to be desired. The Nigerian government needs to think over its approach in more detail because the termination of marriages in the country is often unnecessarily devastating for the whole family. Nigeria is developing in all spheres, so let us hope that one day all the citizens of this beautiful country will have the right and means to stay in healthier and happier marriages. In a nut shell divorce in Nigeria can be caused by both social, economic, religious and behavioral factors amongst others. The influence of the western nation cannot also be ignored as we still copy their culture.

Adolescence is a time of expanding vulnerabilities and opportunities that accompany the widening social and geographic exposure in life beyond family and school, but it actually starts with the family. Previous studies indicates that various exposure to violence are important sources of early adolescent role exits, which means that not6 only can a juvenile witness violence within the family but on the outside as well.(Hagan and 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

As divorce rates continue to increase, the laws that govern divorce have changed over time. Courts deemed it necessary to oversee the amount of child support and alimony awarded to a parent and exerts particular control over what is known as fault-based divorces. Although fault-based divorce laws still exist in many states, the Family Support Act of 1988 introduced the no-fault divorce law, which enables individuals to divorce without proving just cause for the divorce. This bill was also passed as a result of the increase in single-mother households and the low amounts of child support mothers or fathers often received (Peters 1986).

The very fact that divorce rates have strikingly increased and that new laws governing divorce have been established show that divorce could easily be regarded as part of the martial process. In the past, divorce was viewed as an immoral event; it was considered a social disgrace, especially if children were involved. Today, many people divorce for a multitude of reasons. Marriage is perceived by many as a contract rather than a commitment made before God Perhaps the entry of many women into the labor force has created a non-traditional view of marriage. Or it could be that traditional marital standards are too much to bear in modern times

Talcott Parson argued that a stable social system influences an individual’s value within society. He believes families should be aware of the gender roles that are assigned to them upon formation. While men take on the “instrumental role,” providing financial support, women take on the “expressive role,” ensuring that the emotional needs of the children and the husband are met. Parson emphasizes that in order for a marriage to be successful, the family structure must be stable (Parson and Bales 1955, p.315). Throughout the years, research indicates that there has been a decrease in marital stability and attributes this lack to several different factors.

Stevenson and Wolfers (2007) view technological changes and women’s economic gains as having spurred the rise of divorce. More women are spending less time on household chores due to the myriad of household appliances that have been invented, which decreases the amount of time spent on manual labor. Washers, dryers, and dishwashers are examples of products that have increased productivity in homes and have allowed women to become a significant part of the workforce. Ultimately, the time demands that are associated with women’s entry into the workforce can, in fact, strain a marriage, have an adverse impact on how children perceive divorce and can have profound effects on their psychological and emotional well-being.

Children, regardless of age, require some level of loyalty, trust, security, safety, and a sense of belonging. During and after the divorce process, each child experiences different levels of psychological trauma. Studies have shown that children who experience divorce often have an increase in antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression, along with increased delinquent and aggressive behavior. Self-blame and abandonment fears are also known contributing factors. Depending on how parents handle the divorce process these feelings can easily diminish within a child. Statistics show that in the United States, more than a million children have experienced some level of social and cognitive harm from a parental divorce that has left them vulnerable (Fagan and Churchill 2012).

In the realm of family functioning there is a paradigm known as coercion which suggests that family environment influences an adolescents interpersonal style, which in turn influences peer group selection( Cashwell and Vace 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” (p. 253). The cohesiveness of the family successfully predicted the frequency of delinquent acts of non-traditional families (Matherene.and Thomas 2001)

Adolescence is however a time of expanding vulnerabilities and opportunities that accompany the widening social and geographic exposure to life beyond school or family, though it starts with the family. This insinuates that juveniles witnesses violence not only from the family but from outside as well. Furthermore if violence encompasses all emotionally environmental aspects of the juvenile’s life, he or she is most likely to engage in delinquent activities. (Hagan and Foster 2001),

From childhood youth are conditioned to believe that family comprised of a mother, father, and children; but family is defined as “a group of people who are united by ties of partnership and parenthood consisting of a pair of adults and their socially recognized children that is otherwise known as the nucleic or elementary family, or a group of persons united by the ties of marriage, blood, or adoption, constituting a single household and interacting with each other in their respective social positions” (Encyclopedia Britannica online, 2017). While this definition focuses on what might be considered traditional families, the ties of “partnership” can include, and increasingly do, unmarried couples who choose to live together in a family formation and families can also include single parents living with children. Whatever the form of the family, the primary role of parents has always been to guide their kids and to ensure that their needs are satisfied. From birth, infants rely on parents for protection, emotionally and physically.

By the simplest touch or the sound of a voice, babies can determine whose voice they hear. “Before birth, the brain is being set up to learn a language,” says Barbara Kisilevsky a nursing professor at Queens University in Ontario” (abcnews.go.com). Thus, before a baby is born, it begins to develop emotional ties to its surroundings. As children grow, they look to their role models to determine what acceptable behavior look likes. Because divorce is prevalent, as are the births of children to single mothers, social understandings of families have broadened

Statement Of Problem

Improper behavior in human relation has been the upshot of imbalanced social interaction, interpersonal relationship and societal disorganization and disorder. In other words, juvenile delinquency is a complex social problem that impacts negatively on all members and process of a social structure.

Children regardless of whether they are products of single parents or dual parents household, are more likely to become juvenile delinquents if there is a minimum amount of quality time spent with their parent. Parents provide structure which entails rules, encouragement, and any type of consistent adult behavior that a juvenile can use as guidelines his or her own adolescent years.

The socio-economic status of the single parent especially as a result of divorce has created problems for the children, ranging from lack of concentration in academics to lack of good behavior in every aspect of life. For instance, the socio-economic status of parent tends to encourage aggressive behavior in this juveniles life, in the sense that, it makes children from low socio-economic status family envy their peers who are from well to do families. So in an attempt to come up to that height, they engage in all forms of delinquent behaviors.

It is however obvious that majority of delinquents are from single parents households; delinquency is fostered by a lack of parental/juvenile interaction. Monitoring the child is also a major contribution towards the creation of delinquency. By spending time with a juvenile as a family through family activities, it only provides that necessary supervision for being aware of the whereabouts of the child, how the child is functioning emotionally, and how he or she is doing as an adolescent; it creates positive interaction with the parents that is needed for a healthy upbringing.

Objectives Of The Study

  • To examine the effects of marital instability on juvenile delinquency.
  • To find out the various ways marital crisis has affected the behavior of children.
  • To examine the causes of marital crisis in Abuja municipality.
  • To find out the role of specialized socializing institutions in solving the problems of marital instability.
  • To proffer solutions to the problems of marital instability and juvenile delinquency in Abuja municipality.

Research Questions

To what extent has the available studies/solutions on divorce and juvenile delinquency helped in curbing this menace?
To what extent do children from crisis ridden homes get delinquent?
What is really responsible for marital instability in Abuja municipality?
What are the roles of socioeconomic factors in juvenile delinquency?
What measures is necessary to resolve the effect of parent’s socio-economic status on juvenile delinquency?


Cite this paper

Implication of Arital Divorce on Juvenile Delinquency. (2020, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/implication-of-arital-divorce-on-juvenile-delinquency/



How does divorce influence children's social development is it a good research question?
Divorce can have a significant impact on children's social development, as they may experience emotional distress and changes in their family structure. This is a good research question as it is relevant to understanding the effects of divorce on children's well-being.
What are the 4 factors affecting juvenile delinquency?
The four factors that affect juvenile delinquency are: family, peers, community, and school. Each of these factors can influence a juvenile's behavior in different ways.
What are the effects of divorce in middle childhood?
There is a lot of research on the effects of divorce on children, and it is generally agreed that children tend to fare worse in terms of academic achievement, mental health, and social skills when their parents divorce.
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