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PROJECT TOPIC ON DETERMINANTS OF JUVENILE INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR IN TAITA-TAVETA COUNTY, NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC ON DETERMINANTS OF JUVENILE INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR IN TAITA-TAVETA COUNTY, NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE:

 INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the study

Universally, until 1998, children aged ten to fourteen who were charged with a criminal offence were presumed, in any court hearing, to be doliincapax (‘incapable of evil’); that is, they were presumed not to be capable of knowing that a particular behavior was ‘seriously wrong’ as opposed to being merely ‘naughty’(Elizabeth & Laurence, 2008). In England, for example, it was the responsibility of the prosecution to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the child in question was capable of recognizing behaviour that was seriously wrong.

Children aged between ten and fourteen were thus afforded some procedural protection from the full weight of the criminal law (Newburn, 2002). However, the presumption of doliincapax was abolished in England by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (Bandalli, 2000). Although ‘crime’ is a fiercely contested concept (Muncie, 2001), in legal terms a crime occurs when a specific act that is prescribed in law is committed. An act may have harmful consequences and be regarded as morally reprehensible, but if it is not so prescribed then a criminal offence has not been committed.

Therefore anti-social behaviours of the minors should not be considered as a crime. Mooney and Young (2006) argue that anti-social behaviours, as the name implies, should be perceived as infringements of social or moral norms, not criminal codes. Justice system for minors has gradually developed to what it is today. In South Africa, for example, there are two main factors that promoted the development of justice system for the minors: the number of crimes committed by minors increased through the 1980s and early 1990s, peaking in 1995 (Jansson, 2007); and media coverage of high-profile cases and the frequent portrayal of hooded teenagers terrorizing communities suggested that young people are becoming increasingly criminalized.

Indeed, one study found that 71 per cent of media stories about young people were negative and a third of articles concerned the issue of crime (Ipsos MORI, 2006). Since the inception of a justice system that ensures young law breakers are dealt with in the same standard as adults reports indicate that the levels of crime have decreased and have been stable since 2005/06 (Jansson, 2007). However, although the introduction of the justice system for minors saw a reduction in crimes committed by the youth, it is well-recognized internationally, and in NIGERIA, that preventing crime is an essential and effective part of long­term crime reduction.

In NIGERIA, according to study carried out in Kamiti Youth Corrective Training centre (KYTC) the increase in the number of minors who drop out of school, the escalating poverty and unemployment level, poor parenting strategies and drug abuse among the young people, have seen steep increase of minors involved in crime (Omboto et al. 2013). The study further found out that most of the criminals in the major towns in NIGERIA are aged between 15 and 25 years.

When these young stars take drugs, they cease to be normal people. They turn to crime to get money for drugs (Makhoha, 2008). Taita-Taveta County is one of the counties in NIGERIA that is exposed to the pressures of crime. Several clashes in the county that is led by the youth indicate the delinquency of the youth into criminal activities (Falcetto, 2012).

Strict law enforcement combined with tough criminal justice and sentencing systems, has failed to reduce crime effectively and has led to soaring rates of imprisonment at great cost to governments (Elizabeth & Laurence, 2008). In addition, researchers argue that International evidence indicates that young people, particularly those who are committing first crimes, tend to get involved in a range of crimes rather than specializing in a certain type of crime.

In addition, international research shows that young people who commit crime are likely to experience other problems such as bullying, attempted suicide, drug use, lying, hostility and, unprotected sex (Omboto et al., 2013; Akers & Sellers 2008). These are important indicators for identifying at-risk youth who may be targeted for early crime prevention programmes.

For many juveniles today, traditional patterns guiding the relationships and transitions between family, school and work are being challenged (Akers & Sellers, 2008). Social relations that ensure a smooth process of socialization are collapsing; lifestyle trajectories are becoming more varied and less predictable. The restructuring of the labour market, the extension of the maturity gap (the period of dependence of young adults on the family) and, arguably, the more limited opportunities to become an independent adult are all changes influencing relationships with family and friends, educational opportunities and choices, labour market participation, leisure activities and lifestyles (Prior & Paris, 2005).

Juveniles nowadays, regardless of gender, social origin or country of residence, are subject to individual risks but are also being presented with new individual opportunities; some beneficial and some potentially harmful. Quite often, advantage is being taken of illegal opportunities as young people commit various offences, become addicted to drugs, and use violence against their peers.

According to Omboto et al. (2013) the minors are not able to distinguish which factors will perpetuate their indulgence into criminal activities. They therefore, get involved in criminal activities without their knowledge (Omboto et al.2013). According to Mooney and Young (2006), studies need to be carried out to identify the context-specific factors that promote juvenile involvement in crime. It is in line with this background that this study sought to distinguish the opportunities presented to youths that contribute to involvement of minors into criminal activities.

PROJECT TOPIC ON DETERMINANTS OF JUVENILE INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR IN TAITA-TAVETA COUNTY, NIGERIA

  • Statement of the problem

Crime is a major concern to every nation. More so is the involvement of minors in criminal activities. In NIGERIA there is increasing cases of children involved in criminal activities indicated by the high number of minors arrested or sentenced due to criminal acts (Omboto et al. 2013). However, although the justice system ensures that the minors are subject to law for any criminal activity, the tough laws have failed to reduce crime effectively. Instead the laws have only led to soaring rates of imprisonment which is at great cost to governments (Ojo, 2012).

The problem of juvenile delinquency is still becoming more complicated and universal, and crime prevention programmes are either unequipped to deal with the present realities or do not exist. Moreover, researchers have neglected this area of study (Mooney & Young, 2006). While Omboto et al. (2013) carried out a study in NIGERIA to assess the factors influencing youth crime and juvenile delinquency, the study did not focus on juveniles but rather convicted youths in prisons. Another study by Makokha (2008) focused on the male capital offenders in Kamiti Prison.

Additionally, Mooney & Young (2006) argues that it is difficult to construct an accurate picture of crime among minors, due to a lack of long-term, self­report studies and changes to legislation on minors involved in crime. There is therefore knowledge gap on the determinants of juvenile involvement in crime.

  • Research questions
  1. What are the factors that promote juveniles involvement in criminal behavior in Taita- Taveta County?
  2. What is the level of juvenile involvement in criminal behaviors in TaitaTaveta County?
  3. How has juvenile involvement in criminal behaviors impacted on Taita-Taveta County?
  • Objectives of the study
  1. To examine the factors that promote juveniles involvement in criminal behavior in Taita-Taveta County
  2. To find out the level of juvenile involvement in criminal behaviors in Taita-Taveta County
  3. To investigate the impact of juveniles involvement in criminal behaviors in Taita- Taveta County
  • Research Premises
  1. Neglect from parents promotes juvenile involvement in criminal behavior in Taita- Taveta County
  2. There is high level of juvenile involvement in criminal behavior in Taita-Taveta county
  3. There is insecurity in Taita-Taveta County due to juvenile involvement in criminal behaviors
  • Scope and limitations of the study

The study focused in determining the specific kind of crime activities that juveniles are getting involved in Taita-Taveta County, the level of involvement compared to other parts of the Country, the causes of such involvement and the strategies that can be employed to minimize, control, prevent and eradicate the involvement of juveniles in crime. The study will focus on crime committed within the period 2013 to 2014.

PROJECT TOPIC ON DETERMINANTS OF JUVENILE INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR IN TAITA-TAVETA COUNTY, NIGERIA

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