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Texte intégral

Background to the study

1Juvenile delinquency among youths is a subject of great concern to government and society. Some of the problems manifested include teenage pregnancy, abortion, and drug and alcohol addiction. Unless these problems are addressed, there may be a complete breakdown of our cultural values.

2The social behaviour of youths in a particular community is influenced by a number of factors which include family background, peer group pressure, media influences (copycat behaviour), the economic situation of the family, and the educational background of the parents. However, education stands out as a major factor that influences behaviour and that can be used to effect behaviour modification in youths and in the society as a whole. With improved education, various aspects of family life are handled better, facilitating a rise in the general living standards of the family.

3Factors have been identified, which affect the proper education of youths, particularly girls; these include socio-cultural beliefs (especially in rural areas) which may discriminate against female education. Other factors include peer group influences, increasing sexual awareness, substance abuse, truancy, teenage pregnancies and abortions. These finally lead to the increasing wastage rates in schools. The problem of inadequate number of teachers and incessant strike action are also important factors contributing to the increasing wastage rates.

4An important point to bear in mind when addressing educational issues is the socio-economic milieu in which the education is provided. As long as children are used in non-educational activities to supplement parents’ incomes, the opportunity cost of schooling is difficult to justify. This explains the current situation in Nigeria where parents would rather have their children hawk goods or work on the farm in order to increase the household’s income, rather than send them to school.

5At present, there is very little encouragement to send children to school. School and examination fees and the cost of textbooks are beyond the reach of the average Nigerian family. Transportation costs are relatively high, as a result of the recent hike in fuel prices, which has also led to across the board increases in prices of almost everything. The education system is on the verge of collapse because of strikes. Teachers are not paid regularly and many of them are not dedicated. The result is that parents have to pay for extra lessons to get their children through examinations. All these culminate in high dropout rates.

6A high dropout rate due to teenage pregnancy is a serious problem because it has a multiplier effect. Teenage mothers lack the financial and emotional base for adequate child care. Teenage mothers who come from poor or single parent (mother) homes are worse off. Being poor and having little or no access to education increases the chances of this scenario being repeated in her own children. Besides this, adolescent pregnancy can cause serious health problems. Reports have been made on the high incidence of abortion, pre-eclampsia, prenatal mortality, antepartum haemorrhage as well as diseases like anaemia and jaundice.

7Factors which contribute to the increasing sexual activity among adolescents include, early initiation into sexual activities, early onset of menstruation (menarche), lack of information about human reproduction, lack of counselling and the breakdown of traditional moral values. Parents generally assume that their adolescent children are not sexually active. However, the lack of communication on this sensitive issue can cause pregnant teenagers to take drastic measures which could be fatal.

8Government and non government organizations should make the special needs of adolescents a priority and make health facilities available to adolescents, particularly girls. This may safeguard their fertility and ensure their effective contribution to the development of the nation.

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