An Assessment Of The Impact Of Poverty On Criminal Behaviour Among Youths
Criminal behavior could be seen as a fault of the social system whose institutions do not work equally for all its members. This phenomenon has become a recurrent problem in Nigeria among youths, despite concerted efforts made by government, international and Non-Governmental Youths to curb the menace in the Country. This study which sought to establish the impact of poverty on criminal behavior among youths in Nigeria is an attempt to address the root cause of the problem. The research was carried out within the ambit of Relative Deprivation Theory and adopted both primary and secondary types of data collection using simple descriptive statistics techniques to generate data for the study through structured interview and questionnaire. The study which interrogated the interface between poverty and the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The research recommends that a comprehensive synergy involving Government and relevant stakeholders targeted at alleviating poverty will effectively tackled the prevalence of criminal behavior among youths in Nigeria. Other recommendations include strengthening the capacity of NAPTIP, relevant law enforcement agencies and traditional institutions to co-ordinate and sustain a strong security network that will identify, report, arrest and prosecute Criminals and other offenders; serve as a deterrent and check the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria. In addition, the study recommends that the teaching and promotion of Nigeria’s history, national core values of patriotism and nationalism should be given priority and inculcated in the national school curriculum in order to encourage the youths and the entire people of Nigeria to believe in themselves and the country and discourage the excessive quest for illegal activities.
1.1 Background Of The Study
Explanations for crime have taken various dimensions according to different theorists and scholars. Some blame it on defective family structure or arrested personality adjustment. Others emphasize factors such as inequality, environmental influence, poor socialization process (Henslin,2006). In this regards, criminal acts may be induced by many unforeseen factors and circumstances. Crime, according to Taylor (2006) could be seen as a fault of the social system whose institutions do not work equally for all its members. Sociologists look at the social in which individuals find themselves. Could it be that the problem lay not with the individual but in the social condition under which the individual live? The concern here is why people should exhibit behavior that is in violation of established norms, violations that may ultimately result in their being labeled as criminal behavior in terms of social processes.
Mostly, persons known to commit street crimes as reported in the crime index are poor, uneducated, often unemployed and residents of low income neighborhoods (Anasi, 2010). Would a socially and economically sound person turn out to be criminal? In this research work, there is need to understand the socio-economic background of most juvenile and criminals in order to draw correlations or otherwise between low socio-economic status (poverty) and criminal behavior.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
This study focuses on the impact of poverty on criminal behavior in Nigeria. The 2019 national poverty statistics indicated that seventy percent (70%) of Nigeria’s population are poor and Sokoto State has the highest statistics of poverty in the country as more than eighty percent (80%) of the people live below poverty line.
The researcher having seen the unwholesome behaviour that emanated from youths which causes burden to parents, school administrator/ teacher and the society, wade into the research of this nature to find out may be parenting styles like democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire have a way of causing delinquent behaviour and probably peer pressure as a social factor, makes adolescent to adopt certain behavior in order to fit in with others could influence criminal behaviour. Consequently, the research interrogates the interface between poverty and criminal behavior in Nigeria.
1.3 Research Questions
- What is the nature of criminal behavior among youths Nigeria in Nigeria?
- What is the impact of poverty on criminal behavior in Nigeria?
- What are the factors that create favourable environment for the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria?
- What are the possible solutions to the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study include the following:
- To give an empirical analysis of the role of poverty on criminal behavior.
- To examine the circumstances that make youths participate in crime.
- To find out why crime participation is high in certain areas and among certain groups in the society.
- To identify some ways in which the society can be able to tackle the problem of crimes.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research focuses on the impact of poverty on criminal behavior in Nigeria. This essentially provides another alternative perspective for a critical analysis of the phenomenon criminal behavior as a problem that requires a proactive and preventive measure aimed at addressing the root cause rather than curative approach which dwells more on arrest, deportation and prosecution of perpetrators and other symptomatic effects of criminal behavior.
The significance of this study to the body of existing literature is basically designed to cover the gaps or pit-falls inherent in the existing institutional approach put in place to check the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria; an approach that dwells more on the symptomatic rather than the root cause of criminal behavior in the country. The focus of this study on preventive measures will significantly help in addressing the root cause of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the focus of this study on the development of a comprehensive synergy between government and relevant stakeholders targeted at eradicating poverty is in effect an effective strategy that will strengthen the enforcement of relevant laws to effectively prosecute offenders, empower the people and stimulate a ripple or multiplier effect capable of addressing the socio-economic and other relevant challenges that sustain criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The study also helps to bring to the front burner the seriousness and significance of criminal behavior as a problem confronting the entire members of the society and not limited to prostitution involving the female gender, a particular ethnic group or a few states in Nigeria. It is therefore an alternative narrative away from the long held default position or the one sided perspective of the phenomenon criminal behavior as a problem confronting a part or a section of the population in Nigeria.
1.6 Scope and Limitations
The research focuses mainly on the impact of poverty on criminal behavior in Nigeria: A case study of NAPTIP Sokoto Zonal Command 2003-2019. Consequently, the study necessitated a visit by the Researcher to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Crime in Persons and other Related Matters (NAPTIP) Zonal Command in Sokoto, Nigeria
However, in view of the fact that a number of factors in addition to poverty could be responsible for the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria, a comprehensive study of all relevant factors that contribute to the prevalence of criminal behavior in the country would have provided a broader and holistic approach to the problem of the research. Such approach will be too ambitious and will not be feasible within the scope and time-frame of this study. However, the finding of this research provides useful strategies, solutions and raised relevant issues of interest for public debate which will form the basis for future research that can accommodate broader scope and longer time frame.
1.7 Organization of Chapters
This research work is divided into five chapters; the first chapter deals with the introduction, the second chapter deals with the literature review/theoretical framework. The third chapter focuses on the research methodology. The fourth chapter focuses on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data. The fifth chapter provides the summary, conclusion and recommendations of the study.
Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations
The research examines the impact of poverty on criminal behavior in Nigeria. In an attempt to achieve this goal the research focused on the nature, causes and effects of criminal behavior, poverty and criminal behavior situation in Nigeria, factors contributing to poverty and criminal behavior in Nigeria and draws out possible ways of addressing poverty and by implication criminal behavior in Nigeria. Relevant literature were reviewed on the subject matter and Relative Deprivation theory was adopted to explain and ascertain the extent to which poverty plays a impact on criminal behavior in Nigeria. Towards this end, it was assumed that people venture into criminal behavior; a criminal business in response to their feelings of deprivations as reflected in their perceived existence of social inequality (gab) between their current socio-economic status and their prospects and what appear to be reasonable and legitimate expectations, in comparisons with what other persons in the society are believed to enjoy in terms of material, cultural and or political satisfaction. It is further discovered that factors contributing to poverty are responsible for the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria. Similarly, corruption in governance aggravates the incidence of poverty in the society, where human and material resources are poorly harnessed, managed and distributed among the people. This in turns widens social inequality among the people. As a result of this, people venture into different criminal practices such as criminal behavior in order to up-grade their status and earn a better living condition that will guarantee their escape from poverty.
In order to allow a clear and logical analysis of the subject matter, the research reviewed the operations of NAPTIP in tackling the menace of criminal behavior in Nigeria, dwelt on the historical background and the nature and dimension criminal behavior, internal and external crime as well as the purposes and methods of criminal behavior. All these were highlighted and discussed and it was discovered that Nigeria is a source, transit and destination for criminal behavior activities. Effort was also made to discuss some steps taken by government, international and Non- Governmental Youths to curb criminal behavior in Nigeria. It was discovered that the development of a proactive and comprehensive synergy between government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing, poverty rather than arrest, deportation and prosecution of offenders alone, will effectively check the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The research also adopted both primary and secondary types of data collection. The primary method involves the administration of questionnaires and conducting interview with officials of National Agency for the Prohibition of Crime in Persons (NAPTIP) Sokoto Zonal Command, Ministry of Social Welfare and Culture Sokoto, Save the Child Initiative (NGO) based in Sokoto, Poverty Alleviation Agency Sokoto, Nigerian Immigration Service (Anti-criminal behavior Unit) all in Sokoto State. The results of the data gathered shows that majority of the robbed crime victims (19 63.3%) are female children, while majority of the respondents are males and fall between the ages of 42 and 49 years. Also, 14 (46.7%) of crime victims laments on the difficulty to reintegrate into the society, pursue education and build a productive and professional career. While majority of respondents 132 (100.0%) are aware of the incidence of poverty in Nigeria. 56 (42.4%) suggested that addressing the root cause of criminal behavior which revolves around poverty through economic and other forms of empowerment of the populace remains the most viable solution that will effectively curb the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The study further suggested that efforts need to be intensified towards strengthening the operations of NAPTIP and other relevant law enforcement youths through sustained funding, amendment of existing laws and the promulgation of new relevant laws that will enhance Government capacity to coordinate efforts put in place by relevant stakeholders to curb the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
Criminal behavior has intensified in Nigeria, due to widespread poverty, economic desperation, greed and ignorance among people in Nigeria. Over the years Criminals have taken advantage of the underdevelopment of Nigeria
Criminal behavior is a major violation of human rights, as men, women and children are robbed for exploitative purposes such as sexual exploitation, begging, organ harvesting, under paid jobs through forced labour in the agricultural, manufacturing and construction industries, Clubs, recreational centres and other entertainment industries as well as domestic services. This had become a major source of concern to individual families and the society at large. Crime victims of criminal behavior suffered from psychological trauma, effects of stigmatization, low self esteem, diseases among others; where most crime victims find it difficult to be re-integrated into the society in order to pursuit educational opportunities, productive career and other legitimate forms of empowerment. The problem of criminal behavior has assumed wider dimensions, not only to the individual crime victims and families but also to the entire country and society at large.
In view of the above, Government and other relevant stakeholder should play a major impact in the eradication/alleviation of poverty through the creation of an enabling environment for employment, skills acquisition and other economic empowerment opportunities in order to reduce the level of social inequality as well as educate,engaged and prevent people from tendency of being lured into crime such as criminal behavior as a means of earning a living or wealth creation at all cost. Also, Government should strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to ensure the effective enforcement of existing laws, and punish offenders accordingly in order to serve as a deterrant to others. A dynamic and robust counter criminal behavior strategy that focuses on a synergy among various stakeholders targeted at alleviating poverty and eliminating social in-equality in the society, rehabilitation and reintegration of crime victims and prosecution of offenders will effectively curb the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
Based on the research, the challenges and opportunities in this study, the following are recommended.
The study recommends that government should embarked upon the implementation of various programmes aimed at tackling criminal behavior by reducing both the vulnerability of potential crime victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms, ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall crime victims of criminal behavior and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved as Criminals; to serve as a deterrent to others and discourage the practice of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
It also recommends that Government should work towards establishing a comprehensive legislation on criminal behavior that will strengthen the enforcement of severe and capital punishment for offenders and enhance the capacity of NAPTIP, other relevant law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary to developappropriate expertise in tackling the menace of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The findings of the study recommends that media, non – governmental youths (NGO‟s) and other relevant stakeholders should sustain and increase the current public and media interest in criminal behaviorin Nigeria through more public education and enlightenment campaigns based on research, conferences, workshop and other relevant intervention strategies that will sensitize people; mostly the youths against the negative effects of criminal behavior.
It also recommends that politicians, opinion leaders, religious institutions and other major stakeholders in the society, should play complementary impacts in supporting government efforts at alleviating poverty among the people. Efforts should be intensified towards investments in the critical sectors of Agriculture, Health, Education and infrastructure in order to assist government in its efforts at addressing factors contributing to poverty as a strategy to seliminate incentives that create favourable environment for theprevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria. In addition, the study recommends the review of school curricula at all educational levels to teach and promote history of Nigeria, incorporate core national values of patriotism and nationalism in order to encourage youths to believe in themselves and the country, discourage the excessive quest for greener pasture abroad and curb the prevalence of criminal behavior in Nigeria.
The findings of this study also recommends that government in conjunction with captain of industries and non-governmental organization should encourage increased investment in the development of skills acquisition centres across the country and promotion of enabling environment for local and international patronage of finished products in order to gainfully engaged the teeming youth population in Nigeria for productive purposes the purpose, boost the economy and discourage people from seeking illegal and alternative source of livelihood such as criminal behavior
The study also recommends that government should formulate a policy that will factor in peculiarities of age-long traditional practices that usually discourage mostly the youth population from enrolling in formal school system across the nation. This is with the view to de-populate the teeming number of in-active youth population through accommodating the traditional practices as well as encourage school enrollment among the youths. For example, the „Almajiri‟ or Tsangaya system, nomadic pastoralist system, petty trading, fishing and other types of adhoc (informal) business that divert the attention of youths from formal school system; when incorporated alongside formal school system will develop the capacity of Nigerian youths and gainfully utilize their potentials towards the growth and development of the economy and eliminate their vulnerability to criminal behavior.
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