The Implications Of Street Children On Security In Sokoto Metropolis

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

The Implications Of Street Children On Security In Sokoto Metropolis


Security challenges are one of the major social problems confronting not only Sokoto Metropolis or Nigeria in general, but most of the third world countries and some other parts of the world. Street children are often found to be active participants in most of the social uprisings that were witnessed in some parts of Nigeria, particularly Sokoto metropolis. The quest to find out why and how the number of street children is increasing and how it affects the level of security prompted the conduct of this research work. In the course of the research, qualitative research technique was adopted. Focus Group Discussion and key informant Interviews were the methods through which data were gathered. The data were presented in narrative form (prose style) whereas content analysis was used in the interpretation of the data. Social disorganization theory was used in as the theoretical framework.

The research work found poverty, unemployment and poor and inadequate learning facilities as the major contributors to the escalating number of street children. In the course their day to day activities, the street children were found engaging in some delinquent activities such as theft, smoking and sexual practices etc. during any social upspring, they were found to be active participants and consequently, increase the rate of material and human damages. It was also found that solutions to the increasing number of street children revolve around family, community and government efforts. The researchers recommended employment generation, less family reliance on children and formulation of some welfare policies as the solutions to the increasing number of street children and their implications generally.

Chapter One


1.1 Background To The Study

Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. On the other hand, the United Nations convention on the right of a child (1984), as cited in Wikipedia, defines a child as a human being below the age of eighteen (18) years, unless under the law applicable to child, majority is attained earlier. Wholly, children of or below the age of eighteen are expected to be in schools and other related training centers to realize and develop their potentials. (UNCRC, 1984)

However, certain social problems such as poverty, family breakdown, peer-pressure, hawking and begging (in some part of Nigeria) make these children to drop out of schools and roam about the streets in their thousands in most cities of many third world countries particularly Nigeria, such children are often referred to as “Street Children” (Oha, 2008).

Street children are a term for children experiencing homelessness who live on the streets of a city. Street children, according to Brethaton, (2005), are those children (under the age of eighteen), whose lives and livelihood are primarily understood in terms of their relationships’ to the streets. Bretherton (2005) also argues that they are characterized by loneliness on the street, sheltherleness, loss of parental contact and protection, love and care etc. They are mostly at risk of certain social problems (such as harassment, trafficking, hunger etc) and also a risk to the societal stability.

According to Fakoya (2009), “two different categories of street children are found in Nigeria.” There are those who live and work in the street (children of the street) and those who live and work on the street full or part-time, but return to their homes each night (children in the street)”. In the case of this research project, the two categories will comprise the subject matter of the study. This is due to the fact that the two categories constitute the leprous arms of the same alarming social problem which is security challenges. According to Oha (2003), the escalating phenomena of street children is being propelled by corruption coupled with legendary mismanagement of natural resources which has made the provision of social amenities (including schools) for these children almost impossible in Nigeria.

Consequently, these children look forward for necessary means through which they respond to their needs. These means include; begging, theft, hawking, drug abuse, picking pocket and above all, constituting a major tools of violence by becoming ethno-religious soldiers in many social upheavals. Therefore, this becomes serious implications on security of the third world countries, particularly Nigeria. The prevalence of street children and their delinquent tendencies, which sometimes threatens the security level in Nigeria, is associated with the consequences of social disorganization that is high in the less-developed parts of the urban areas.

According to Olutuah and Adesifi (2008), urban areas are characterized by migrants, with a diversity of cultural backgrounds and practices that come to participate in different spheres of the urban centers. The high rate of influx of people to the urban centers leads to disproportionate chances of social participation. Consequently, unemployment, poverty and related problems characterized the inner cities of the urban areas which result to the formation of slums and ghettos, with weakened integrative forces and high rate of criminals and delinquent tendencies.

In Sokoto, street children are mostly found in the slums like Dandima, Kanwuri, Iraki, Ahmadu Bello way, Emir Yahaya, Tsohowar kasuwa, Shagon goro, Sabowar kasuwa, Hajiya Halima etc (Abdu, 2008). Abdu, (2008), further argued that, a number or a large proportion of these children were recruited from Almajiranci schools (Muslims system of education peculiar to northern Nigeria and some segment of neighboring West African countries). Whereas, other categories of children are boys and girls street hawkers, bus conductors, garbage collectors among others (hence the Almajirai also participate in such activities).

These street children are more likely to engage in drug addiction, harassment of other children and even adult in areas where they live. Their areas of operational concentration include; market place, garage (motor-park), schools premises (after school hours), football field, children playing ground, places of festivals and places where politicians conducting their campaign. It is clear in Nigeria, particularly Sokoto metropolis that street children correlate with security challenges such as lack of law and order, theft, Vandalization of private and public properties, increase rate of homicide, political thuggery and above all violent attack on people and even the security personnel etc. These become a very serious social pathology that requires collective and effective effort of government, professionals and general public to tackle.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Although, the nature of street children may differ across countries, the problem of street children has become a global phenomenon. Even in developed nations, the phenomenon is said to be pronounced (though relatively lower than the developing or undeveloped nations) especially among the less privileged class (the racially, politically, socially and economically segregated or isolated etc) of the societies. For example, in a paper titled “prevalence, abuse and exploitation of street children in the early years of the 21st century, 2000 to 2010”, written by Reevas (2011), it was argued that, there were 1.3 million homeless and runaway children who were forced out of their homes, abandoned by foster care system or are part of the homelessness family. These children engage in different forms of delinquent behavior, ranging from drug abuse, theft, bullying and other forms of violent activities that affect the lives and properties of people. In the later age of their lives, they graduate into more sophisticated dangerous criminal gangs, performing violent criminal activities like; robbery, prostitution and drug abuse. In the United Kingdom, Bretherton (2005) argues, there are few statistics on youth homeless, center point in London which provide a place to stay for over 500 young people every right, in the year 2000, one in the five were 16-17 year old. This justifies the global presence of street children.

Because the prevalence of street children is associated with underdevelopment, poverty and inadequate of social amenities, the phenomena is said to persist more in the third world countries including Latin America, Africa and some parts of Asia. Most often, street children serve as reservoir where militias visit at will to forcefully recruit more members which increase the security challenges or in other ward which bring a very serious implication on security in most African countries. For example, therefore, according to Selva (2004), more than 100,000 children have been abducted to fight in Africa’s long-running civil wars in the past few years. Teenage boys and girls forced to join militias are being subjected to psychological torture so that they can be indoctrinated. Example of places where street children served such function include: Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria and Somalia. It is clear that without taking an effective measure towards monitoring the increasing figure of street children in Africa, African Nations will have no end to different forms of implications on security which will eventually, stagnate political stability, social integrations and economic development and prosperity (Selva) 2004.

Coming down to the implication of street children in Nigeria, it is obvious that in almost all major urban cities of Nigeria: Lagos, Kano, Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Kaduna and Sokoto etc, the problem remain the same. Even though, for the past thirty to forty years, Nigeria did not witness any civil war, ethno- religious and political crises characterized most of the urban centers. In most of the ethno-religious and political crisis witnessed in Kaduna, Jos, Kano, Lagos and the contemporaries in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe and Bauchi, street children contributed immensely in the brutal and fatal activities, sometimes they are even argued to be initial agents of such crisis (Nte, Eke and Igbaribo, 2009). Those that are free from ethno-religious and political crisis engage in other forms of delinquent behavior which directly endangers the lives and properties of Nigerians. These make certain locations such as streets and jungle to be dangerous for people, especially in the night or early hours of the day.

Shagon goro (old market), Hajiya Halima, Masallanci Shehu, New market, Dandima and Gawon Nama top the list of the major points in which the street children struggle for their survival in Sokoto. They engage in activates such as selling of sachet water, begging, bus conducting and other engage in stealing, pick- pocketing and other forms of criminal and delinquent behavior to earn a living. It was reported that during certain upheavals such as shi’a crisis, miss world crisis and the recent post-election violence of 2011 and current coming election (2015 general election) these street children constituted a vast number of ethno-religious armies to the parties involved. The delinquent activities of the street children increase the implications and threat on security nationwide, particularly in Sokoto metropolis which requires a collective effort of solution (Abdulganiyu founder of save the child initiative (STCI), 2006).

It is obvious that the increasing number of the street children in Nigeria, particularly Sokoto, threatens the lives and properties and even well-being of the people. This is because, the children often engage or participate in drug addiction which gullible them into more sophisticated criminal and delinquent practices and sometimes facilitating religious and political crisis in the state. As a matter of fact, this problem needs to be critically evaluated so that genuine solutions will be provided for it. This solution will serve as an effective step in combating one of the major security challenges in Nigeria, particularly the recent operations of “jama’atul ahlisunna lidda’awati waljihad” popularly known as “Boko-Haram”. If at all the number of these children will be extremely reduced, the brutal and fatal operation of certain sects, as they rely on these street children to be hired to their activities, will also be impaired.

1.3 Research Questions

At the end of this study the researcher will find answer to the following questions?

  1. What are the factors responsible for the escalating number of street children?
  2. What are the patterns of delinquent behavior associated with street children?
  3. How do street children affect level of security in Sokoto metropolis?
  4. What are the possible outcomes through which street children can be reduced to minimal level?

1.4 Research Objectives

The general objective of the research project is to examine the relationship between the prevalence of street children and their implications on security in Sokoto metropolis. The specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To identify the factors responsible for the escalating number of street children.
  2. To examine the patterns of delinquent behavior associated with street children.
  3. To explain how the street children affect the level of security in sokoto metropolis.
  4. To find out the possible solutions through which the street children could be reduced to a minimal level.

1.5 Significance Of The Study

One of the most pronounced social problem in the media and related daily papers in Nigeria are security related problems such problems include frequent ethno-religious crisis in places like; Kaduna and Jos etc, the activities of members of movement for the emancipation of Niger-Delta (MEND) and the recent operations of jama’atul Ahlisunna Lidda’awati Waljihad (Boko-Haram) among others. The fervent to find the brand at which street children engages with those security challenges prompted the conduct of this research on the relationship between the street and security challenges in Sokoto metropolis.

  1. Looking at the current security challenges not only in Sokoto metropolis but Nigeria in general, the research project will help to spell out the security challenges that are particularly related to the street children and obviously spell out the risk involved in the escalating number of street children across the nation.
  2. Knowing the kind of implications that are related to street children and the dangers in their increasing numbers would help the local, state and federal government in general and other related policy planners to design a policy and programs that would take into account of such problems.
  3. The research project will assist future researchers that may intend to carry out a relevant research on this related areas with information that are gained within their geographical locations or areas.

1.6 Scope of the Research

The research will cover the relationship between the increasing number of street children and the level at which their implication affect security in Sokoto metropolis. The study will specifically focus on the above problem in Sokoto metropolis which is the state capital of Sokoto state, Nigeria. The study will comprise both boys and girls between the age of eight to eighteen years that wonder about in the major streets, markets and even campuses in Sokoto metropolis as cited in the Wikipedia the free encyclopedia (2005). Sokoto is very a heterogeneous population, with an estimated population figure of 427,760 (2006 Census) the accurate number of the street
children is yet to be known.

1.7 Operationalization of Concepts

CHILDREN: A child is a young person below the age of full physical development or below the age of maturity.

STREET CHILDREN: Children experiencing homelessness who live on the street of a city.

SECURITY: The degree of protection against danger, damage, loss and protection of life and property of people. Security is the degree of resistance to or protection from harm (ISECOM). SECURITY CHALLENGES: The increasing level of criminality and the inability of the control agents protect the life and property of the people (Abdu, 2008). .

JUVENILE DELIQUENCY: This simply referred to the participation in illegal behavior by minor (i.e, individuals younger than the statutory age of majority).

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

The research was designed to study the implication of street children on security in Sokoto Metropolis, the purpose of any empirical research, such as this, it is to provide the basis for purposeful policy formulation ad implementation. Hence, this chapter is divided into three (3) sections, the first section is the summary of the chapters of the research project, the second section is the conclusion of the study and the last section constitutes the recommendations which were made based on the findings of the study.

5.2 Summary

The study, like most research work, was structured into five (5) chapters (this inclusive). The first chapter discusses: the background of the study (general introduction), statement of the problem, questions and objectives of the study, relevance of the study, scope and the limitation of the study and lastly the operationalization of concepts.

The second chapter consists of the review of related literature and theoretical frame work. In the chapter, works of different scholars regarding the topic and their possible shortcomings were identified. The theory which serves as the framework of the research as well as its applicability in the work was also discussed in the chapter.

The third chapter deals with the historical background of the study area and the research methodology which include research design, population of the study, sample size ad procedure, methods of data collection, research instruments, of data analysis, and the problems encountered in the course of data collection.

The fourth chapter consists of data presentation, analysis and the discussion of findings of the study. In the chapter, the various data collected were carefully analyzed and related to previous findings of other scholars. Implications of some of the findings were also discussed in the chapter.

Lastly, the fifth chapter consists of summary, conclusion and recommendations. The summary of the entire work has been discussed in the chapter so also the conclusion. Based on the findings of the of the research work the researcher recommended certain solutions which were all discussed in the chapter.

5.3 Conclusion

The problem of street children is being perpetuated by many factors, among which include: poverty, unemployment and peer pressure, like any human being, children need certain resources for their survival, and sometimes the resources are often less provided by their parents, especially, the poor and/or unemployment parents. As a result, the children find themselves roaming about streets and markets, hawking or engaging in activities that would earn them a living (money). To sum it all, the increasing level of poverty and unemployment often result in the increase in the number of street children in Sokoto Metropolis.

Because the bulk of the children came from poor neighborhoods where criminality an delinquency is frequent and tend to be normalized among them and they are exposed to certain places (like garage and motor parks) where thuggery life is the norm, they exhibit a variety of delinquent behaviors either on the streets, markets or in some hidden areas which are suitable for delinquent acts.

During any social uprising, particularly political and ethno-religious arises, street children were found to be participating in one or the other activities that facilitate the crises and increase the rate of maternal and human damages. If the problem of street children will be remained unresolved by the community or governments, there is likelihood that they will, in the long run, join more sophisticated militia groups such as Boko-Haram and, consequently, complicate the existing security challenges in Nigeria, particularly Sokoto metropolis.

In trying to reduce the number of street children, the research found that if reliance on children as a source of family earning will be reduced, the level of street children will also reduce. The work of NGOs is of significant important in reducing the number of street children, this can be done by establishing skills acquisition centers, where these children will learn and be trained on how to depend on themselves and abandoned street loitering. Also if the government will revive and fully implement policies and programs regarding education, poverty reduction and other related welfare programs the street roaming will be reduce.

5.4 Recommendations

In view of the research findings, the following recommendations are proffered:

  1. Parent should watch over the affairs of their children; what they do, where they go and the kind of friends they mingle with so as to reduce the tendencies of bad influence of friends.
  2. Skill acquisition centers should be established either by the NGO.s or the government so that children will be trained into different occupations which will make them to be self employed. To this end, the skilled children will, in the long-run, train younger ones into such occupations, as result reliance on the street activities will be minimized among children.
  3. Government should pay emphasis in providing employment opportunities for both parents and the skilled or trained children so that reliance on street activities will be reduced. In line with this, the government should also revive and implement policies regarding poverty reduction and welfare programs so that degree of poverty and the problems of unemployment will be reduced, so also the street children.
  4. Government should also improve the standard of primary and secondary schools, particularly public schools, so that children will spend more time in schools and minimize the amount of time they require or spend in street activities.
  5. Welfare programs for the Almajiri should be put in place by the government and skill acquisition centers should also be provided for the Almajiri. This will minimize the level of dependency on the streets and markets for begging.
  6. Parents should try to consider their ability in sustaining themselves as well as their children before given birth to too many children. This is because, given birth to too many children without taking care of their basic life necessities will make the children to struggle and provide it for themselves at all cost.

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