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Profiling Juvenile Offenders among Street Children in Nigeria

A Dissertation
Presented to
The Faculty of the Department of Justice Studies
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View, Texas

In Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in Juvenile Justice

By
Daniel Amadin Irabor

2013
Prairie View A&M University

Copyright
© 2013, Daniel Amadin Irabor,
All Rights Reserved

Certificate of Dissertation Approval
2013
TO THE COMMITTEE OF GRADUATE STUDY:
The undersigned on this date examined Daniel Amadin Irabor for the awarding of
the doctoral degree and hereby certify that the dissertation was inspected by each of us
and was approved.
Approved:
G. Solomon Osho, Ph. D
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology

Camille Gibson, Ph. D.,
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology

Harry Adams, Ph. D
College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology

William Kritsonis, Ph. D
College of Education

Approved:
William Parker, Ed. D
Dean, Graduate School

Abstract
Irabor, Daniel A., Profiling Juvenile Offenders among Street Children in Nigeria.
Doctor of Philosophy (Juvenile Justice), 2013, Prairie View A&M University,
Prairie View, Texas.
Juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria has become a major sociopolitical issue demanding immediate policy attention. In recent times, the phenomenon
has assumed an imaginary and alarming magnitude with millions of Nigerian street
children engaging in it. Evidence abound that the Nigerian government public policies on
internal or security affairs have failed to recognize and address the issue of juvenile
offending among street children.
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between demographic
and social characteristics of street children and juvenile offending in Nigeria.
Specifically, the study examined the relationship between gender, age, level of education
and family structure, religious affiliation, sexual and physical abuse and juvenile
offending among a sample of street children in Nigeria with the view of identifying and
profiling the typical street child. Three fundamental questions guided this study: 1) Who
is the typical street child that is likely to offend? 2) Is the street child living in and on the
streets in Nigeria more likely to offend than the street child living with a relative? 3)
What social forces seem to push children into the streets and thereby into lives of crime?
To examine these fundamental questions, the study adopted a data triangulation
technique with a multi – phase sequential mixed method of data collection and
interpretation approach (Sieber, 1973). Data triangulation is a multiple method approach

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which herein reflects both qualitative and quantitative methods. This study utilized both
primary and secondary data.
Consistent with the literature and previous studies on the demographic and social
characteristics of juvenile offending and profiling the typical juvenile offender, this study
revealed that the typical juvenile offender among street children in Nigeria is most likely
to be a male of approximately 14 years of age, most likely to come from a non-religious,
no parent family structure (than two-parents family structure) background, and most
likely to be living, eating and sleeping on the street (rather than living at home with a
relative). In addition, the typical street child is most likely to be an illiterate and may have
been physically abused as a child while living at home with a relative
The overall findings of this study are consistent with the assumption of social
structural positivism that emphasizes that human behavior is determined by the social and
economic conditions of life, including but not limited to poverty, alienation, social
disorganization characterized by weaken or broken down informal control mechanism,
and, or inappropriate socialization, personal frustration, relative deprivation, differential
opportunities, alternative means to success, and deviant subcultures and subcultural
values that conflict with conventional values or institutions of society that affect the
social and physical environment of which human beings are a part of (Kubrin et. al.,
2009; Schmalleger, 2011).
The study therefore, recommends that the governments of Nigeria and countries
of the world with similar problems must invest on human capital and if a little proportion
of the money countries spend on unnecessary wars and other trivialities is directed
towards addressing the plights of the street children, maybe the world would be a better
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place for everyone – the street children would live well and the rest of the citizens would
live with less fear of crime.

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Dedication
The Lord Almighty God is good and great. Jehovah is His name. His grace and
mercies are boundless, so we must glorify His name and give Him praise. A doctoral
degree program in juvenile justice at Prairie View A&M University has not been an easy
task. As Frank J. Dobie (1888–1964) expressed, “The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but
the transference of bones from one graveyard to another”. Thus, it suffices to mention
here that it has taken the protection and care of His guided hands to see me through.
Consequently, this work in its entirety is dedicated to “I Am that I Am’’ and all the street
children of the World.
‘’With all my heart I praise the Lord! And with all that I am I praise his holy
name! With all my heart I praise the Lord! I will never forget how kind he has been to
me.
Psalm 103: 1-5

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Acknowledgement
My sincere thanks go to entire faculty and staff of the College of Juvenile Justice
and Psychology, Prairie View A&M University. Specifically, I want to express my
profound and unreserved thanks and appreciation to all the members of my dissertation
committee – Dr. Solomon Osho (Chair), Dr. Camille Gibson, Dr. Harry Adams, and Dr.
William Kritsonis. It is not sufficient, for one, to say they are just wonderful. In fact, they
are epitomes of all that is good. It is not sufficient to say that they are great teachers.
They are indeed great scholars. Great teachers are usually great scholars. Great scholars
engage themselves in the business of continuous learning, willing and able to teach others
what they have learned. Peter Drucker (1999) claimed, knowledge has become the new
currency and ‘’the only factor’’ of production in the new world. Dr. Solomon Osho, Dr.
Camile Gibson, Dr. Harry Adams, and Dr. William Kritsonis are indeed great leaders.
Great leaders are exemplars -they model the way by showing dedicated examples. Great
leaders are usually fair, consistent, meticulous, articulate, visionary and challenging. As
great leaders, they just not do thing right, they do the right things. Great leaders make
extra-ordinary things happen. A good example of such an extra-ordinary thing is this
project. May the Almighty God in his infinite mercies bless them always. In Proverbs 22:
29, it was indeed stated “Seest thou a man diligent in his work? He shall stand before
kings; He shall not stand before mean men.” May they continue to strive for excellence in
all that they do.
My special thanks to Dr. Cintron for her candid professional advice and support
throughout the program. I do not know how I would have been able to complete this
program without the graduate assistantship she made sure got to doctoral students every
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semester. I also want to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Jon Sorenson, who served as a
member of my dissertation committee at the preliminary stage of this dissertation for his
invaluable advice and to my children for providing the peaceful atmosphere for me to do
this marvelous work and for their patience and understanding. They remain blessed.

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Table of Contents
Page
Copyright

v

Certificate of Dissertation Approval vi
Abstract

iv

Dedication

vii

Acknowledgement
Chapter 1

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Introduction

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Observations and Background of the Problem
Problem Statement

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The Purpose of the Study

28

The Assumptions of Study

28

Significance of Study 31
Organization of the Study
Chapter 2

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36

Review of Related Literature 36
Theoretical Orientation..................................................................................................36
Social Disorganization...................................................................................................41
Social Learning Theory..................................................................................................46
Anomie and Strain Theories...........................................................................................53
The Literature on Street Children

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Demographic Characteristics of Street Children in Other Countries.............................60
Street Children, Urbanization and Neighborhood Conditions in Nigeria......................67
Street Children as a Social Resistance Movement.........................................................75
Street Children and Drug Use........................................................................................78
Child Abuse....................................................................................................................81
Conclusion.....................................................................................................................82
Chapter 3

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Method

84
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Delimitation of the Study...............................................................................................85
Research Design

87

Quantitative Data

89

Codification of Variables................................................................................................91
Quantitative Data Analysis

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Descriptive Statistical Analysis......................................................................................92
Inferential Statistics........................................................................................................95
Pearson’s Correlation Matrix.........................................................................................95
Binary Regression Model...............................................................................................99
Qualitative Data Collection..........................................................................................104
Human Subject Protection...........................................................................................108
Limitation of the Study.................................................................................................111
Conclusion....................................................................................................................112
Chapter 4

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Results113
Descriptive Statistical Analysis....................................................................................114
Research Question 1.....................................................................................................114
Gender..........................................................................................................................115
Age...............................................................................................................................116
Research Question 2.....................................................................................................117
Research Question 3.....................................................................................................119
Family Structure...........................................................................................................119
Level of Education and Religious Affiliation..............................................................120
Physical and Sexual Abuse..........................................................................................122
Inferential Statistics......................................................................................................124
Binary Regression Model.............................................................................................127
Family Structure...........................................................................................................127
Religious Affiliation.....................................................................................................128
Gender..........................................................................................................................128
Level of Education.......................................................................................................128
Physical Abuse.............................................................................................................129
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Sexual Abuse................................................................................................................129
The Qualitative Data 131
Casual Observational Study.........................................................................................131
Conclusion...................................................................................................................141
Chapter 5

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Conclusion and Future Work 142
Discussion....................................................................................................................144
Research Question 1.....................................................................................................144
Gender..........................................................................................................................145
Age...............................................................................................................................146
Research Question 2.....................................................................................................146
Research Question 3.....................................................................................................147
Family Environment....................................................................................................152
Ecological Environment...............................................................................................154
Social Environment......................................................................................................157
The Concept of the Iroko Tree.....................................................................................158
Directions for Future Research....................................................................................162
Conclusion...................................................................................................................163
Recommendations........................................................................................................164
References

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List of Tables
Page
Table 1: Descriptive statistics for Independent Variable – Family Structure and
Dependent Variable – Juvenile Offending. Sample (N=300).

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Table 2: Frequency Distribution of the Outcome Variable – Street Children and predictor
variables – Level of Education. Sample (N=300).

------------------------------Error:

Reference source not found
Table 3: Frequency Distribution of the Outcome Variable – Street Children and predictor
variables –Religious Affiliation, Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse. Sample (N=300).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------122
Table 4: Correlation Matrix of Juvenile Offending Among Street Children--------------124
Table 5: Correlation Matrix of Juvenile Offending Among Street Children in Nigeria-124
Table 6: Variables in the Equation-------------------------------------------------------------128

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Chapter 1
Introduction
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crime,
properly so-called, will there be unknown; but faults which appear venial to the layman
will create there the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary
consciousness.
Emile Durkheim (1895/1950, p. 68-69)
Juvenile offending is often perceived to be extensive and serious despite the fact
that most serious property and violent crimes are committed by offenders over 18 years
of age (Lawrence & Hemmens, 2002). Juvenile offending, specifically among street
children, the world over, is a serious social problem that has defied all known solution,
and the phenomenon has since become serious policy concerns to government of several
countries of the world. President Lyndon Johnson in establishing the commission on Law
Enforcement and Administration of Justice in 1965 announced that ‘’Crime including
juvenile offending is a sore on the face of America. It is a menace on our streets. It is a
corruptor of our youth’’ (Friedman, 1993, p.297; Inciardi, 1999). As President Johnson
claimed, it is the responsibility of government to bring juvenile offending under control
(Inciardi, 1999). Lawrence M. Friedman (1993) in his book Crime and Punishment in
America explained that juvenile offending is a major political issue. According to him,
There is reason to believe people are more upset about juvenile offending (crime)
today than ever before - more worried, more fearful. … They are more afraid of
sudden violence or theft by strangers; they feel their cities are jungles; they are afraid
to walk the streets at night. Millions of parents are afraid their children will turn into

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junkies, millions see some sort of rot, some sort of decay infecting society, and crime
is the pus oozing out from the wound (p. 297).
The Consortium for Street Children in its studies recognized violence as a core
theme underpinning children’s presence on the streets, shaping their experiences in public
spaces and influencing their lives (CNN, 2009). Rapper Brown declared, ‘’violence, it is
said, is as American as cherry pie’’ (Friedman, 1993; Hagan, 2011, p.207). Although, the
United States of America is perceived by the rest of the world as the most violent, crime
ridden society in the industrialized world (Lamn, 1988), violence per se on the streets is
not a characteristic peculiar to American youths. The Russian government, for example,
estimates that about two million Russian children are homeless. One in every four crimes
in Russia involves underage homeless youths (CNN, 2009). According to Ogungbemi
(2006), an estimated 20,000 children slept on New York streets every night in 1990. The
case in Bogota, Columbia, is not different. Ogbungbemi stressed that 85 % of all street
children in Columbia die before they turn 15, and that half of U.K. beggars on the street
spent their childhood in care of others and a quarter slept in the street before they turn 16
(Ogungbemi, 2006). The estimate of an Ethiopia government agency puts children living
on the street at 150,000, with 60,000 in Addis Ababa alone, and many arriving from rural
areas on a daily basis (IRIN, 2004). The India’s Ministry of Social Welfare reported that
about 200,000 out of the 10.9 million children living in Calcutta in 1992 live in the street
(UNICEF, 1996). In Latin America, the case is not different; about 40 million children are
homeless, living and working on the streets (UNICEF, 1996).
Kilbourn (1997) explained that the number of street children worldwide is on the
increase and that in Asia alone, there are about 25 million children without homes and

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actually working and living on the street. According to Kilbourn, the precipitating factor
responsible for the malaise include rapid urbanization, massive population displacement,
extreme poverty for millions, increased family disintegration, exploitation, slavery,
bonded labor (to pay off debts) and forced prostitution. In Kilbourn’s words, “people
converge en masse to the cities to seek food and refuge’’ (p.15). Their motivation to
gravitate to the street can be attributed to the desire to meet basic physiological, safety,
and belongingness needs (Janskrowski, 1991; Maslow, 1970).
Densley and Joss (2000) exclaimed that, today the world is facing a disturbing
and growing phenomenon of children spending the majority of their developmental years
in the streets. According to them, street children represent a rapidly growing socioeducational challenge affecting both the developing and industrialized nations of the
world. No country, and virtually no city, anywhere in the world have been able to escape
the presence of these so-called street children (Densley & Joss, 2000). To think of it, the
phenomenon of street children has become one of the world’s major social problems, and
its increasing number continues to attract global attention. Lack of adequate statistical
data make it impossible to pin down the exact number of street children in the world. At
best, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that nearly 150 million
children worldwide live, work and sleep on the streets, and that the population grows
daily. Ranging in ages from 3 to 18, about 40 % of them are homeless while the other
60% works on the streets to support their families (UNICEF, 2000). The UNICEF report
further indicates that at least 120 million children (5-14) are being exploited at work.
Many of them are doing difficult and dangerous jobs, exposed to serious accidents;
thousands of them participate in, are victims of, or suffer the consequences of being an

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armed victim; many others are subject to sexual abuse and corrupt or illegal practices
including criminal or delinquent activities. Moreover, many of them become not just
victims but juvenile offenders themselves (UNICEF, 2002).
Street children are virtually found in every country, every city, and everywhere in
the world. It is a problem of both developed and developing countries, but the
phenomenon is believed to be more prevalent in the poor nations of Latin America, Asia
and Africa. Studies have found that the number of street children in poor and developing
countries is believed to be significantly higher than the number in developed countries
(UNICEF, 2002). An estimated 10 million children in Africa, out of the over 150 million
street children, live mostly in towns and village streets without families (UNICEF, 2000).
Poverty, family disintegration due to health or death, neglect, abuse or abandonment, and
social unrest are all common triggers for a child's life on the streets. As available data
indicate, nearly one of every 60 people on earth is a child living on the streets. It has been
estimated that approximately 50% of the children that end up living on the street die
within the first four years of their street life. In other words, a child who ends up in the
street at the age of 8 has a 50% probability of dying before the age of 12 (Youth Advocate
Program International, 2003-04).
Fakoya (2009), citing the World Bank, claims that an estimate of about 300
million children less than 15 years of age live in Africa, representing almost half of
Africa’s population. He stressed that no one really knows the exact number of street
children in Nigeria, but it is known that children under 18 years of age made up nearly
48% of the estimated country’s population of 120 million in 1996. This estimate remains

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undiminished with the passage of years and associated increase in Nigeria’s population
(Fakoya, 2009).
While some studies have indicated that an increasing number of children are
being forced to the streets as a result of poverty, abuse, torture, rape, abandonment, or
being orphaned by AIDS, others have claimed that the conditionalities derivable from the
policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Funds (IMF) such as the structural
adjustment policy, free market economy, trade liberalization and the deregulation of
indebted nations, especially developing countries, have been noticed to negatively
strained and shrink the role of such nations in providing public services (Kasu, 2008).
Gillespie (2006), for example, explained that under neoliberalism, most developing
countries are required to abandon their economic programs in pursuit of the economic
expansion as dictated by World Bank and International Monetary Funds (IMF), which
invariably have caused joblessness, displacement from lands, and migration to urban
areas, social dislocation and isolation in these countries.
In other words, economic globalization, which has resulted in the unequal
distribution of wealth between the rich and poor nations of the world, is partly
responsible for bringing children from their respective home to the streets (Kasu, 2008).
Gillespie (2006) exclaimed that it is global capitalism that has created the rising poverty,
escalating violence, and derivative problems for the poor underclass throughout the
developing countries of Latin America and other parts of the world. Encarta (2008)
explained that the World Bank and the International Monetary Funds are instruments of
globalization. As has been observed, economic globalization, characterized by capitalism
and the exploitation of the poor, alienated, and powerless people of the world, has

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become the socio-political and economic brouhaha that the western or developed nation
of the world have used in recent times to strangle and diminish the economic capabilities
of the poor and developing nations (Kasu, 2008).
Nte, Eke and Igbanibo (2012) concluded that, in recent times, the world and
Africa are witnessing unprecedented rapid and wide ranging socio-economic changes.
Specifically, there is rapid urbanization; population explosion; disparity in wealth, and
the introduction of the structural adjustment programs; and the effect of globalization
have not helped matters. Instead, these changes have deepened the economic crisis of
these countries, thus multiplying the number of African children on the street. In Nigeria
for example, Okojie and Okojie (2003) explained that the structural adjustment program
adopted under the economic stabilization policies in 1982 have had depressing effects on
employment, incomes, and the standard of living. In their words,
The structural adjustment program with its restrictive financial policies,
retrenchment of public sector workers and a freeze on wage increases, have had very
harsh impacts on the State. Successive waves of retrenchment in the state public
service, failure to pay retirement benefits, and irregular payment of salaries, have all
raised the incidence of poverty in the State (p.46).
Some scholars have argued that the structural adjustment program generally
results in an unequal distribution of economic and political power where one class
benefits at the detriment of others. In short, in many developing countries of the world, it
has induced structural violence among the people (Gillespie, 2006). Kopoka (2002)
explained that government policies that embrace liberalization and the free market

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economy are contributory factors to the persistent state of poverty and increased hardship
with children being affected most.
Observations and Background of the Problem
In the last few years, the world has experienced several changes and it is
currently witnessing a new era of tremendous transformation. Several scholars have
different names for the new era. Drucker (1994) calls it, ''The Post-Capitalist Society or
Knowledge Society’’; Rifkin (2000) refers to it as the ''Access Age''. Castells (1996) says
it is the ''Information Society'', and Albron (1996) claims that it is the ''Global age''. In
short, it has been dubbed the age where knowledge has become the new currency and
“the factor’’ of production of the new world (Drucker, 1994). No matter what it is called,
some scholars have argued, that what has differentiated the new era of transformation
from the earlier era is that the new information, or knowledge era, characterized by the
use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), ushered in the new phase of
globalization.
Friedman (1999) reflected that, ''To those who say that this era is no different
from the previous one, I will simply ask: was your grandmother playing bridge with
Frenchmen on the internet in 1900? I don’t think so’’ (p.12). The term globalization
which has become one of the popular buzzwords of the 21st century has crystallized
disagreements among contemporary social scientists about the direction of change in the
world at large. To think of it, conceptualizing globalization, for example, often conveys a
sense that something new and amazing is happening to the world. Robertson (1992)
wrote, ''The compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the
world as a whole is making the world a single place''. Robertson (1992, p. 34) and

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Castells (1996) believed that globalization is the ability to have the core of the economy which is not everything, but rather such things as capital markets, major multi-national
corporations, key management processes, science and technology and highly skilled labor
- working today as a unit in real time on a planetary scale to make things easy and good
for everyone. This is the world that the children of the world have inherited, and this is
the world in which the children of the world must live in. Must certain children of the
world, such as the street children, be strangers in their own world?
Some scholars have often wondered that if globalization is everything that is
good, innovative, a revolution against the traditional ways of doing things, and the
instrument that is supposedly expected to bridge the divide between all classes, races and
sexes of people in the world, how much has it affected or changed the lives of the
orphaned, the abandoned, poverty stricken, and uneducated children on the streets?
Gillespie (2006) noted that since the introduction of the neo-liberal economy initiatives
and global capitalism of the western countries to the world, multi-national companies
have dominated the world economy. The capitalists have made themselves wealthy and
politically powerful to the detriment of the majority poor and powerless people. The
irony of all these, has been that, global capitalism, free enterprise, and trade liberalization
which were supposedly designed to produce substantial benefits to the people of the
world, at least reduce poverty, have in no small ways increased poverty, violence, and the
extra ordinary divide among all categories of people. Street children, for example, are
living and visible consequences of the divide between the rich and the poor (ILO, 2005).
In a world of so much affluence, and in the light of globalization characterized by
the formation of a global - closer contact between different parts of the world, with

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increasing possibilities of personal exchange, mutual understanding and friendship
between world citizens and creation of a global civilization, it is unimaginable that
certain children of the world should sleep in stairways, under bridges, abandoned and
dilapidated building, market places, underground tunnels, broken down neighborhoods;
eat from garbage cans and dumps; suffer from various medical afflictions, and be
exposed to so much brutality and exploitation. Let us try this. These children are usually
found in large numbers begging, hawking, playing, fighting, wandering, stealing, robbing
and killing people. They also become vulnerable to delinquency and gang activities
consequently, become socially dangerous to society.
What precedes offending is that the children, while on the street, are confronted
with many unfortunate circumstances that necessitate their involvements in serious
violent juvenile offending. It is not so much so that these children live, eat, work and
commit atrocities on the streets, the greater problem is that governments in most
developing countries, specifically in Africa, are not doing enough to address the problem,
and that indeed the problem of street children remains an ignored tragedy that is set to
have a devastating impact on the development of African countries. Even when and
where something is done, the response to intentional wrong doing by juveniles on the
streets by the governments of most of these countries has been very punitive. At best, the
Nigerian government, for example, has always resorted to the use of retributive measures
to address the wrong-doing among street children.
The Nigerian justice system has become so punitive as any dare-devil system in
the world can ever be. Yet nothing seems to be working. It is ironic that Nigeria, which
claims to be the epitome of democracy in Africa, is still one of the few countries of the

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world in the company of Iran and the United States of America where capital punishment
is still practiced and, of course, one of the few countries in the developing world where a
juvenile caught stealing a loaf of bread is publicly executed by the police without any
form of due process. In Nigeria, street children are seen and perceived by many as
bastards, nuisances, and uncontrollable, and, as such, a threat to public safety. Berezina
(2011) noted that “unspeakable police brutality on street children reflects the
governments’ perception of street children as parasites to be exterminated, rather than as
children needing homes and nurturing’’ (p. 2). Darley and Gromet (2009) argued that the
current focus and fixation on the retributive punishment of the offenders invariably have
very daring consequences. For one, it limits psychological investigation of people’s
response to criminal violations. They emphasized that empirical investigations dictate
that people’s reactions to wrongdoing that focus solely on people’s desire to punish
wrongdoers neglect other serious considerations people may have when contemplating
justice.
Reiman (2001) queried why society pretends that it does not know why ex-cons
turn to crime or claims that it does not know that prison systems are the major source of
crime. Beccaria (1764) explained that the severity of punishment of itself emboldens
men to commit the very wrongs it is supposed to prevent; men are driven to commit
additional crimes to avoid the punishment of a single one. He emphasized that the
countries and times most notorious for severity of penalties have always been those in
which the bloodiest and most inhumane of deeds were committed. Beccaria noted that
for the same spirit of ferocity that guided the hands of the legislators also ruled that of the
parricide and assassin (Beccaria, 1764).

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Kopoka (2002) exclaimed that street children in Africa are the victims of an
uncaring community that is increasingly being characterized by poverty, breakdown of
family life, violence and economic hardships, and, of course, bad and shortsighted
policies of governments. Families which are supposed to be the bedrock of children's
welfare and protection or the leaders in finding solutions to the problem have become the
major source of the problem. In some of these countries, parents send their children into
the streets to beg, steal or engage in petty trade. Some children leave their homes to
escape domestic violence and abuses at homes. Schools are turning into centers of
violence and where children go to learn how to commit crimes. To use the words of Grant
(2006):
Where were the caring family members, helpful friends, concerned teachers, and
supportive social workers when that criminal was a child being abused and
neglected? Who loved that child? Who educated that child so that he or she could
succeed in this world? Who demeaned that child because his or her skin color,
religion, or ethnicity was different from the majority in the community? Who did
violence to that child by relegating him or her to poverty and then hating that child
because he or she was poor? Generally speaking, Children who are loved and cared
for do not become criminals (p.69).
The concept of les talionis or retribution which pre-supposes the act of repaying
in kind, or to return like for like such as an eye for an eye is a duty-based, backward
looking policy approach to juvenile justice especially in a country that subscribes to the
doctrine of parens patriae or pledges to protect and defend the interest of children. Allen,
Latessa and Ponder (2013) explained that the overuse of punishment in a society that

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claims to be open and free create a situation in which the punished can characterize their
punishers as persecutors of the poor and helpless. The countries of the world must find
suitable ways to address the problem of juvenile offending among street children in
Nigeria. Retributive punishment should not be the panacea to the problem of juvenile
offending in Nigeria. The renowned transformational leader, Mahatma Gandhi of India
once said “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’’ (Gandhi, 1919).
Problem Statement
Juvenile offending among street children, the world over, is a global, serious, and
ever-increasing social problem that has since become a major policy concerns to
government of several countries of the world. This study derives from a perspective that
views juvenile offending as a virus. When a virus enters the body of an organism, it is
hardly recognized because of its small nature. While it is in the body, it starts by
attacking and destroying healthy cells. If something is not done soon enough to eradicate
the virus, it moves on to destroy larger organs. If it is still unchecked, the virus may
eventually kill the organism. Like the virus that destroys and kills the organism, juvenile
offending destroys the values, sense of safety, direction, and security of a society.
In his message to congress, President Johnson of the United States of America
once announced to the nation that new approaches to new problems must be sought. In
his words:
The problems of crime (offending) bring us together. … We must bring it under
control. Even as we join in common action, we know that there can be no instant
victory. Ancient evils do not yield to easy conquest. We cannot limit our efforts to
enemies that we can see. We must, with equal resolve, seek out new knowledge, new

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techniques, and new understanding, not only to reduce it but also to banish it
(Friedman, 1993, p. 297; Inciardi 1999).
In Nigeria for example, the problem of juvenile offending among street children
cannot be over-emphasized, as the phenomenon has overwhelmingly besieged the people
and the government of the country “like a colossus’’ (Shakespeare, 2012; p.9) and its
menaces have become the matter of serious concern to the people, the various states and
federal governments of the country so much so that these governments must act
expediently with applicable policies to avert further catastrophes. A former State Military
Administrator of Lagos, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola once expressed that the problem
of juvenile offending among Nigerian youths on the streets is not a new phenomenon,
particularly in Lagos, Nigeria. In Oyinlola’s words, “Today, our dear Lagos has been
saddled with the problem which in fact constitutes a nuisance to the public at large’’
(Heap, 2010, p.49). (Idemudia, Nwachukwu and Osinowo (2000) wrote, “In Nigeria, the
frequency of armed robberies has reached unprecedented heights undermining every facet
of social life to the extent that people now live in fear in locked houses and apartments.
Every hour, in many urban centers, cars are stolen at gun point and houses invaded by
brazen armed robbers’’ (p. 64). Something should be done about it.
The Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study which centers on the juvenile offending of street
children in Nigeria is to determine the relationship between demographic and social
characteristics (properties) of street children and juvenile offending among street children
world-wide with particular reference to juvenile offending among street children in
Nigeria. In this regard, while recognizing that violence, intimidation and coercion play

27

significant roles in street juvenile offending among street children, the study examines the
relationship between sex, age, level of education and family structure and street juvenile
offending in Nigeria with the view of identifying and profiling the street child.
Colvin (2000), for example, in his integrated theory of criminal criminology
claims that “chronic criminals are made and not born. They emerge from a developmental
process that is punctuated by recurring, erratic episodes of coercion. They become both
the recipients and perpetrator of coercion, entrapped in a dynamic that propels them along
a pathway toward chronic criminality’’ (p. 24). As he argues, coercive forces can create
social and psychological dynamics that could lead to chronic criminal behavior.
The Assumptions of Study
The study draws from contemporary sociological theories of crime causation such
as social disorganization, general strain theories and social learning theories to present an
integrated strain theory that has been used to identify the situational and structural
arrangement in which juvenile offending among street children takes place in Nigeria.
Positivism has always insisted that crime is frequently caused or mostly caused by
several factors. Akers and Sellers (2004) indicated that the goal of theory integration is to
identify commonalities in two or more theories to produce a synthesis that is superior to
any one theory individually (Kubrin et al., 2009) – exemplifying the concept of structure
functionalism, “the whole greater than its parts’’. Although, integrated theories do not
attempt to explain all criminality, they are distinguishable in that they attempt to merge or
bring together concepts or a diverse body of knowledge drawn from different sources,
thus providing a potentially wider explanatory power.

28

The study presupposes that some (not every) social order grows to a state of
maximum imbalance so much so that these imbalances produce some contradictions and
weaknesses (such as social disorganization, strains and inadequate socialization) that
eventually cause juvenile offending. The assumption here is that street children are, by
nature, born good as all children. Some of them become bad or delinquent because the
existing institutions of society (the cultural universals)– the family, the school, the
church, the economics and community- that are supposed to meet most of their needs or
provide the opportunities for meeting such needs have become dysfunctional. As a result,
these categories of children offend because they are strained or differentially socialized
into the criminal subculture.
Consistent with social structure theories, the study assumes:
1.

Juvenile offending among street children is consequent upon the

institutional or structural arrangements in which the juvenile offenders among street
children find themselves (neighborhood poverty, lack of parental control, disorganized
neighborhood characterized by weaken or broken down informal control mechanism,
and, or inappropriate socialization). Street children sleep, work and eat together on the
streets in abandoned buildings, dilapidated buildings or broken down house, and under
the bridges (UNICEF, 2006) with little or no parental control or adult supervision.
2.

“Birds of the same feather flock together’’ (Glueck & Glueck, 1950;

Goffredson and Hirschi, 1990, Kubrin et al., 2009). On the streets, children learn good
and bad behaviors from each other. The study assumes that juveniles on the street offend
because they differentially learn unconventional behavior on the street in close
association with their peers (Sutherland, 1939), especially those who provide them with

29

the support, assurance, direction and protections that society’s social institutions could
not provide for them. In other words, delinquent street children cause law abiding
children that gravitate to the street to offend or get in trouble
3.

Juveniles on the street offend because they are strained by social,

economic, and environmental factors. Agnew (2006) remarked that individuals
experience strain when there is the actual or anticipated removal or loss of positively
valued stimuli; when the individual aspires for wealth or fame but lacks the educational
or financial resources to achieve goals and he or she is being treated poorly, brutalized,
abused and neglected, discriminated against and victimized.
Consequently, the study examines three fundamental questions:
(1) Who is the typical street child that is likely to offend? There is the common
assumption of most scholars that gender is a major, persistent correlate to crime (juvenile
offending) (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1994). Braithwaite (1999) noted that available
statistical data on crimes in most societies of the world indicate that crime is committed
disproportionately by males between the ages of 15 to 25. He claims that about 90% of
prison populations are usually men. It is an objective of this study to test the validity of
such an assertion by investigating the relationship between gender and juvenile offending
among street children in Nigeria.
(2) Is the street child living in and on the streets in Nigeria more likely to offend
or engage in more serious offending than the street child living with a relative?
3) What social forces seem to push children into the streets and thereby into lives
of crime?"

30

Significance of Study
The purposes of any scientific research are two-fold: the acquisition of new
knowledge for knowledge sake, for the sake of science or the development of the field,
and to address specific concerns so as to offer solution to a problem. Applied action is
more productive when it is empirically informed. A review of the literature on street
children reveals that research has been very limited in areas focusing on street children in
Nigeria, and the statistical data on crimes and juvenile offending are not readily available;
and even where and when they are available, they are grossly inadequate. Personal
observation and experiences reveal that the high level of illiteracy, the corrupt practices
of the law-enforcement agents and government officers; the unwillingness of the people
to report juvenile offending for fear that the police may ridicule them or would not do
anything about it are partly responsible for the under-reporting of the offending in most
developing countries. Ennen (2003) argued that the major sources of works done on
children in Africa are inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations so the data
collected are within the framework of programs rather than theories or policy generation.
International organizations such as UNICEF, United Nations Organization, and
International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, for example, have
conducted extensive studies on street children. These studies describe the quandaries of
the street children as victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and the violations of their
fundamental human rights. The literature on juvenile offending among street children
seems to be deficient in several important aspects. Virtually nothing in the literature digs
deeply in to the construction of the juvenile offender among street children or something

31

related has ever been done before in Nigeria. Consequently, such deficiency makes the
relevance of this study obvious.
The data derivable from this study offer an insight on the nature and extent of
juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria. It has been used in this study to
identify and profile a typical juvenile offender among street children in Nigeria. Criminal
profiling, an attempt to construct typical characteristics of certain types of offenders, has
been practiced at different levels in criminal justice for years (Hagan, 2012).
Specifically, it has been commonly used in the criminal justice system to describe and
assess the demographic (who the offenders are) and the psychographic (why the
offenders do what they do) characteristics of offenders. The famous physician and
criminology Cesare Lombroso is said to have once profiled certain physical
characteristics of individuals in order to conclude that “the criminal man’’ possesses
certain atavistic characteristics (such as receding hairline, bumpy face, broad noses,
sloping shoulders) dating back to early stages of evolution (Del Carmen, 2008). Sheldon
on the other hand, in his observation of several juvenile offenders in the Boston area,
profiled body types according to temperament to identify patterns of criminality in
individuals. According to him, the typical problematic youth tend to be mesomorphic – a
body type individual, he claimed to stocky, and muscularly built; aggressive, assertive,
extroverted and action-seeking (Del Carmen, 2008; Schmalleger, 2012). According to
Federal Bureau of Investigation (1991), the most commonly used demographic variables
include age, sex (gender), race, location and employment history.
Fairbairn Private Bank (2008) in the article on its website, titled “The Importance
of Client Profiling’’ explained that no one really expects a doctor to diagnose and

32

prescribe treatment for a medical condition without a thorough examination, discussion,
and consideration of the client’s medical history and existing medication. Similarly, to be
able to understand the phenomenon of juvenile offending among street children, seek
sustainable solutions and to make any policy recommendation to any government on how
to deal with the menaces of the phenomenon, it is essential that scholars demonstrate the
full understanding of the circumstances and characteristics of the phenomenon and the
street children likely to offend. Bolman and Deal (2003) explained that lack of clues,
sometimes make smart people do dumb things; and most times, when people don’t know
what to do, they do more of what they know. Identifying and profiling the typical juvenile
offender among street children enable the researcher to create the structural and political
frames with which a predictive model can be generated and on which basis the researcher
can eventually make necessary recommendations to the government of Nigeria (federal,
state and local governments) regarding the possible ways on how to deal with the menace
of juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria.
The advantages of developing juvenile justice policies based on criminal profiling
generated through the use of scientific research cannot be over-emphasized. Tewksbury
and Mustaine (2004) emphasized that “scientific research produces a higher level of
understanding about regular happening phenomena because of the frequency of
occurrence and the number of cases from which to draw conclusions’’ (p. 10). This is the
goal of this study.
Organization of the Study
The organization used in this study is typical of the order of presentation generally
found in scientific research projects. Scientific research is generally carried out in phrases

33

which can be divided imperceptibly among, 1) introduction and problem identification, 2)
review of relevant studies and literature, 3) development of a research design, which may
include choice of data collection techniques, 4) a review of the findings which often
include the statistical analysis of the data collected, and 5) the conclusion and necessary
policy recommendations.
Invariably, this study is organized in five chapters, a reference list and appendices.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction of the study. In this chapter, the background to the
problem, the problem statement; the objective, the assumptions and the purposes of, and
rationale for the study are comprehensively discussed. Chapter II offers a review of
existing studies theories, and literature on street children as they relate to the body of
knowledge consistent with the field of criminology and juvenile justice. Specifically, in
this chapter, the study reviews relevant literature on various theoretical and research
methods adopted by scholars who have done works specific to the phenomenon of street
children in recent times. Chapter III describes the research design of the study. It is often
obvious that the development of the research designs in the research process is of utmost
importance. They are like the bones which structure or give form to the body of an
organism. As Schmalleger (2012) explained that research designs structure the research
process. They provide a kind of road map to the logic or reason inherent in a researcher’s
approach to a research problem.
Chapter IV presents the analysis and findings for this study. Included in this
chapter are tables and graphics that were needed to highlight the statistical information
gathered regarding the differences and similarities among the various demographic
variables used in the study; coupled with a comprehensive examination of the numeric

34

and non-numeric statistical information needed to provide a clear understanding of the
statistical procedures performed (Tewksbury & Mustaine, 2004). Chapter V presents a
comprehensive summary of the study which includes the introduction, purpose of the
study, the problem statement, the research design, the presentation and discussion of the
research findings, the conclusion, the policy implications and the applicable
recommendations for practices and further studies.

Chapter 2
Review of Related Literature
This chapter offers a review of existing studies and literature on street children as
it relates to criminology and juvenile justice. Specifically, it reviewed literature on
various theoretical and research methods adopted by scholars who have done works
specific to the phenomenon of street children in recent times with the view of correcting
some of the methodological flaws and enhancing theory on the topic. Presently,
substantial methodological flaws exist in many of the studies relating to the phenomenon
of street children.
Theoretical Orientation
Since the beginning of time, different scholars have offered different theories of
juvenile offending. The different theories have offered different definitions,
understanding and assumptions about its causes. Knepper (2007) explained that every
theory of crime contains an argument about what should be done in response to the
problem of juvenile offending. However, theories of juvenile offending are not “sacred
icons to be worshipped at the altar of criminology” (Cullen & Agnew, 2011, p.93).
Cullen and Agnew (2011) argued that no matter how persuasive, influential and
sophisticatedly stated these theories are, they should be viewed as provisional
understandings of social realities, in that “they allow us to see but not sacrosanct’’(p.93).
Knepper (2007) asserted that although, some theories about the etiology of juvenile
offending may not always offer policy proposals as such, the theorized sources of crime
may signal some preferred solution.

35

36

Juvenile offending is a complex, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, socio-legal
construct and no one theory of offending has been able to adequately explain it. It is hard
to define, and it is often not too easy to explain. Burt (1938) citing Vigil in his book, The
young delinquent claims that
Crime is assignable to no single universal source, nor yet two or three. It springs
from a wide variety and usually from a multiplicity, of alternative and converging
influences. Consequently, those who examine and analyze criminal cases are
studying individual cases, where one crime result from one interaction of certain
factors and another crime results from another combination of the same or other
factors (Burt, 1938, p.32).
Braithwaite (1999) noted that “Crime is not a uni-dimensional construct. For this
reason, one should not be overly optimistic about a general theory, which sets out to
explain all types of crime. Clearly, the kinds of variables required to explain a
phenomenon like rape are very different from those necessary to an explanation of
embezzlement’’ (p. 1). Schaffer (1976) asserted that “in the early days of scientific
criminology, theorists engaged in ardent debates over the validity of their respective
approaches to the crime problems. Under the pressure of arguments and
counterarguments, many theorists have offered changes and modifications’’ (p. 28).
Schaffer (1976) insisted however, that these theorists have not agreed upon one specific
way to understand crime nor have they arrived at a consensus on a single factor that
causes crime. Lombroso for example, changed his views at least four times. Freud
reinterpreted himself so often that by the end he had almost become a sociologist rather
than an analytical psychiatrist (Schaffer, 1976). According to Sutherland and Cressey,

37

“Not only that a variety of factors are responsible for crime but also, these factors cannot
now and perhaps cannot ever, be organized into general propositions''. In other words, no
single scientific theory of criminal behavior is possible (Sutherland & Cressey, 1974).
Frank Williams III and Marilyn McShane (1994) wrote that
There are different varieties of theories, but there is no single acceptable scheme that
describes the kinds of theory. As if the problem of understanding the various
theories were not difficult enough, attempts by various writers to group them by
some simple differences have, ironically, made matters worse (p. 7).
Lawrence Friedman (1993) on the other hand explained that, there are so many
ways to look at the causes of crime. Some people for example, blame crime on poverty,
on injustice or on social disorganization, whereas, some others reject these theories.
There are economic theories, psychological theories, psychoanalytical theories, cultural
theories, generic theories, and so on. “We can label some of them right –wing or leftwing or middle-wing or multi-wing. None of the theories can be proven or disproven.
Probably no one big, sweeping theory is ever going to work. Nobody is likely to discover
the cause of crime. People are much too complicated for that’’ (Friedman 1993).
To think of it, juvenile offending is a serious social problem that has defied all
known solutions. Explaining it is a complex issue. To understand the "whole" person or
human behavior requires that we draw on the concept of economics, psychology,
sociology, political science, the arts and even the natural sciences. Brian Vila explained
that all existing criminological theories are partial theories (Vila, 1994). He claims that
no theory to date is general enough to explain all criminal behavior. According to Vila, if
a theory is to be general enough to explain all criminal behavior, it must be ecological,

38

integrative, developmental, and must include both micro-level and macro-level
explanations. He insisted that not only must individual genetic traits be considered in a
general theory, but intergenerational transmission of these traits must be considered as
well (Vila, 1994).
Friedman (1993) on the other hand wrote that
There are many ways to look at the causes of crime. Some people blame crime on
poverty, on social disorganization, on injustice, others reject these theories. There are
economic theories, psychological theories, psychoanalytical theories, cultural
theories, generic theories, and so on. None of the theories can be proven or
disproven. Probably no one big, sweeping theory is ever going to work (p.15).
As a result, the study which sets out to determine the origin, nature, causes and
extent of the phenomenon of street children as they relate to juvenile offending in Nigeria
should not rely on a single theory of crime causation. A review of the literature on the
phenomenon of the street children reveals that research has been very limited and
deficient in several important aspects. Weitzer (2005) explained that there has been little
theoretical advancement in recent years trying to explain the phenomenon (Weitzer,
2005). Consequently, such deficiency makes the relevance of this study obvious.
Some scholars have offered multiple theories to explain the relationship between
crime, delinquency, and juvenile offending among street children (Shelden, Tracy, &
Brown, 2004). Shelden, Tracy, and Brown (2004) explained that some of these theories
have taken a strictly sociological perspective; others have come from a purely
psychological point of view, while others still have been a combination of both of these
theories.

39

Jankowski (1991) explains that the sociological literature on gangs (or street
crimes) offers a number of theories, but a close look at each of these indicates that they
are really theories about crime and delinquency; and not theories of gangs per se. They
are therefore sociological theories of crime rather than the sociological theories of the
gang (Jankowski, 1991) neither are they specifically theories of juvenile offending among
street children. Some others have argued that regardless of what these theories are or
what they represent, theories of crime such as social disorganization, social control
theories, or cultural deviance theories share a similar logical foundation with theories of
gangs or street crimes. They all rest on the assumption that gangs emerge from poverty
and persist because poverty persists (Janskrowski, 1991; Kornhauser, 1978). Invariably,
these theories can also be used and have been used to explain juvenile offending among
street children. In Nigeria for example, street gangs like the “Area boys’’, the “Agberos’’
virtually live, work and commit most of their atrocities on the street.
Consistent with the suggestions of several theoretical scholars that crime theories
can shed much light on the causes of juvenile offending (Rosenfeld, 2002; LaFree &
Dugan, 2004, 2008; Rausch & LaFree, 2007), this study draws from several theoretical
perspectives such as sociological theories of crime causation, e.g., social disorganization,
anomie, general stain theory, and social learning. Such multi theoretical approaches will
attempt to provide the much needed explanation for the root causes of the phenomenon of
street children in Nigeria using a macro-socioeconomic perspective.
The assumption here is that theoretical insights on why children live, sleep, and
work on the street or engage in juvenile offending should offer solutions for the problem
of street children in Nigeria.

40

Social Disorganization
One cornerstone of a theoretical foundation on why street children exist is social
disorganization. There is the old saying that you can take the criminal out of a bad
environment, but you cannot take a bad environment out of the criminal (Schmalleger,
2012). Schmalleger (2012) noted that “while we do not necessarily believe this to be true,
some scholars have suggested that negative influence of the social environment, such as
poverty, lack of education, broken families, disorganized neighborhood, episodes of
discrimination and socialization into unproductive values predispose certain people to
lives of crime’’(Schmalleger, 2012, p. 150).
The social disorganization theory, which is one of the social structure theories,
grew out of studies conducted in the early 1900s by scholars associated with the
ecological school of criminology of the University of Chicago. As social structural
theorists, they examined how crime is related to the institutional arrangement of social
structures and social processes as they affect socialization and have an impact on social
life. Social disorganization theorists essentially focus on the social and economic
conditions of life, such as poverty, weak social control (formal and informal),
degenerative neighborhoods, frustration, relative deprivation (Schmalleger, 2009).
As Schmalleger (2009), explained it, a condition of social disorganization, which
he referred to as a state of social pathology, exists when a group or society is faced with
social change, uneven development of culture, maladaptiveness, disharmony, conflict and
a lack of consensus (Schmalleger, 2012). These theories essentially posit that crime is the
result of an individual’s location within the structure of society and that social
disorganization is the property of neighborhoods or communities, and not the individuals

41

(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990, Kubrin, Stucky, & Krohn, 2009). Kubrin, et al., (2009)
explained that it is usually not correct to assume that the residents of a neighborhood are
disorganized. They argued that it is the neighborhood in which the residents reside that is
disorganized.
Cullen and Agnew (2011) explained that, essentially, social disorganization is
associated with the assumption that disorganized communities cause crime because
informal social control especially the cultural universals (family, school, religion,
economic and political institutions) have broken down and criminal activities emerge.
Schmalleger (2009) wrote that “social disorganization encompasses the notion of social
pathology, which sees society as an organism and crime and delinquency as a kind of
disease’’ (p. 292).
Regarding the street activity of deviant youths in the United States, Jankowski
(1991) declared that nearly all other theories of gangs have emanated from the basic
assumptions of the social disorganization. According to these theories, “poor economic
conditions have caused social disorganization to the extent that there is lack of social
control. The lack of social control, he further claimed leads to gang formation and
involvement because young people in low-income neighborhoods (slums) seek the social
order and the security that a gang can provide’’ (Jankowski, 1991, p. 22). He insisted that
low income areas in American cities are, in fact, organized, but they are organized around
intense competition for and conflict over, the scare resources that exist in these areas.
According to Kubrin, et al., (2009), the social disorganization theory - a social
structure theory explains crime from a perspective completely different from all other
prior criminological theories – classical and trait theories which essentially concentrated

42

in the criminality of the individuals. As they claimed, social disorganization theory is
essentially interested in where crime occurs, and emphasizes the geographic and spatial
distribution of crime. Fundamentally, the social disorganization theory draws from two
fundamental questions: Why is crime higher in some neighborhoods than others and is
there something unique about the characteristics of these neighborhoods themselves
(above and beyond the control of resident who live in these neighborhoods) that foster
crime? (Kubrin, Stucky, & Krohn, 2009). Similarly, in Nigeria, street children are more
likely to exist in certain areas more than others.
Kubrin et al. (2009) argued the differences between organized and disorganized
neighborhoods are responsible for the differences in the crime rates across areas. As they
explained, some neighborhoods are organized while others are disorganized. A socially
organized neighborhood is characterized by cohesiveness, mechanical solidarity, sacred
tradition, high level of integration, and homogeneity in terms of like-mindedness and
values placed on social norms and community activities. Invariably, in such a
neighborhood, the crime rate will be low because of the high level of informal social
control mechanism. Whereas, the disorganized neighborhood experiences high crime rate
because of a lack or weakened informal social control mechanisms resulting from a
deficit in those essential elements that characterize the socially organized neighborhood.
W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki (1920) in their classic work on “The Polish
Peasant in Europe and America’’ attributed social disorganization to the breakdown of
effective social bonds within families, neighborhoods and communities. Shaw and
McKay (1942) utilizing 55,998 juvenile court records over a period of 33 built on the
organic analogy and the social ecological approach as applied to the concentric zone

43

models of Robert Park and Ernest Burgess. Shaw and McKay (1942) believed that
delinquency has its roots in the dynamic life of the community, even though, not all
communities are the same. Surveying the urban landscape in more affluent communities,
the similarity of attitudes and values as to social control is expressed in institutions and
voluntary associations designed to perpetuate and protect these values. But in areas
wrecked by poverty and constant social change, the conventional institutions of social
control become weak and a value system supportive of crime is nurtured (p.165). As they
expressed, social disorganization was the inability of local communities to solve common
problems and that the degree of social disorganization in a community was largely
predicated upon the extent of residential mobility and racial heterogeneity present in that
community (Schmalleger, 2010). In essence, Shaw and McKay postulated that: 1.The
deteriorated areas of the city produce social disorganization; 2.That socially disorganized
neighborhoods lead to ineffective social control of children; 3.That ineffective control
allows street gangs to emerge or develop; 4.That delinquent traditions are transmitted
from one generation of gang boys to the next; and 5. moreover, that delinquent traditions
produce high delinquency rates.
Adler, Mueller and Laufer (2004) explained that social disorganization theory was
translated into practice in 1934 with the establishment of the Chicago Area Project
(CAP), an experiment in neighborhood reorganization. In this project, efforts were made
to control delinquency through recreational facilities, summer camps, better lawenforcement and upgrading of neighborhood school, sanitation, and general appearance
(Adler, Mueller & Laufer, 2004).

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According to Shoemaker (1996), there are essentially four specific assumptions of
social disorganization as an explanation of delinquency. First, delinquency is mainly the
consequence of a collapse of institutional, community-based controls. The people who
live in these situations are not personally disoriented; instead, they are viewed as
responding naturally to disorganize environmental conditions. Second, the
disorganization of community-based institutions is often a result of rapid
industrialization, urbanization, and immigration processes that occur primarily in urban
areas. Third, the effectiveness of social institutions and the desirability of residential and
business locations correspond closely to natural, ecological principles that are influenced
by the concepts of competition and dominance. This assumption associates the term
"ecological approach" with the social disorganization explanation of delinquency. The
fourth assumption is that socially disorganized areas lead to the development of criminal
values and traditions that replace conventional ones and that are self-perpetuating
(Shoemaker, 1996).
The theory’s uniqueness is its direct link of high crime rates to neighborhood’s
ecological characteristics. In short, youths from disadvantaged neighborhoods participate
in a subculture in which delinquency is an approved behavior and that criminality
emerges as a consequence of the collapse of institutional, community-based social
control. Another importance of social disorganization theory to the understanding of
crime and the criminal justice system in the United States is in the area of policy
directions and implementation. Hagan (2011) suggested that if socially disorganized areas
cause crime, then the policy to eradicate such blight and to improve communities in such
settings becomes predominant.

45

If social disorganization is at the root of crime problem, then, any measure to
control crime must involve social organization and the strengthening of local control
mechanism. Today, when a window is broken, the normal response is wise to fix it.
Wilson and Kelling (1982) stressed that if one window in a building is left broken, then,
soon all the windows will be broken; if a neighborhood is left unattended, then disorder
will grow, and with it crime (Skogan, 1990). The broken window concept has since been
likened to social disorganization which has necessitated the specific programs, sometimes
referred to as “the Broken Window Policing’’.
Another response to an adaptation of social disorganization theory is the aspect of
federal, states and local government setting up the “Operation Weed and Seed Program to
improve the quality of life in targeted high crime urban areas across the country. Adler,
Mueller, and Laufer (2004) noted that the strategy applied by the co-coordinators of the
program is to weed out negative influences (drugs, crime) and to seed the neighborhoods
with prevention and intervention. As they explained, the key components of the program
included the analysis of neighborhood problems, the weeding out of drug traffickers,
violent offenders, and other criminals through arrest by law-enforcement, communitypolicing- the involvement of law-enforcement agents in solving community problems and
seeding in human service activities – adult literacy, neighborhood revitalization (Adler,
Mueller, & Laufer, 2004).
Social Learning Theory
A dish of soup made with a salmon fish serves as special delicacies for several
Americans but little did these Americans know that

46

When a Chinook salmon first emerges from its egg in the gravel bed of the stream, it
has in its genes virtually all the behavioral instructions it needs to survive for life. It
instinctively knows how to swim, how to navigate, what to eat, and how to protect
itself from predators (Myers, 1986, p.229).
Learning theories are relevant, in that street children indubitably learn to navigate
the streets in order to exist there. Myers (1986) stressed, unlike the salmon, humans are
not born with a blueprint for life. The legendary 17th century philosopher, John Locke
(1690) once explained in his theory of tabula rasa that the human mind is at birth a
"blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that as humans begin to observe and
experience things, data are added and rules for processing are formed solely by one’s
sensory experiences. Fukuyama (2002) described the human brain as a kind of general
purpose computer that can take in and manipulate the sensory data that appear to it. He
stressed that the memory of this general purpose computer (the human brain) is
essentially blank at the moment of birth. As Ebinghau (1913) observed, one of the oldest
formulations about the nature of learning is that persons learn by association (Bower &
Hilgard, 1981; Vold et al., 1998). Vold et al. recalled that
associationism has been the dominant learning theory through the centuries to the
present. It was elaborated by such philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke and Hume,
and was the basis for the first experiments on human memory carried out by
Thorndike (Thorndike, 1898; Vold, 1998, p.180).
The thought is as ancient as 322 B.C. Aristotle (384-322 B.C) in his book De
Anima or On the Soul, Book III, chapter 4 which is probably considered as the first
textbook of psychology in the Western canon, writes of the “unscribed tablet”(Aristotle,

47

1952). In it, Aristotle argued that all knowledge is acquired through experience and that
none is inborn or instinctive. He noted that the basic sensory experiences become
associated with each other in the mind because they occur in certain relationships with
each other as persons interact with the object. According to Vold et al. (1998) Aristotle
formulated four laws of association that illustrate those relationships: the law of
similarity; the law of contrast; the law of succession in time; and the law of co-existence
in space (p.181). Aristotle emphasized that the most complex ideas are all built out of
these associations between sensory experiences (Bower & Hilgard, 1981; Vold et al.,
1998). As a result, humans must learn many things. They must struggle to acquire the life
directions that are innate for salmon is born with. The humans’ ability to learn new
behavior that enables them to cope with the ever changing circumstances makes humans
unique. Learning enables us to understand themselves, others, and their environment.
Vold et al. (1998) explained that there are three ways that individuals learn
through association: the classical conditioning as originally described by Pavlov is a
social process where people learn to anticipate and prepare for significant events; the
operant conditioning associated with B.F. Skinner is when they learn by repeating acts
they have come to understand. The operant conditioning uses rewards and punishments to
reinforce certain behaviors; and social learning theory which tries to combine some
elements of cognitive psychology with operant conditioning, ends up with the synthesis
that emphasizes that behavior may be reinforced not only through actual rewards and
punishments, but also through expectations that are learned by watching what happens to
other people (Vold et al., 1998).

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Remarkably, the social learning theorists have come to argue that the learning of
behavior is a social construct that happens within a social context. That behavior can be
learned, maintained, and unlearned through the process of observational learning (when
persons learn to acquire new behavior by watching or observing others), classical
conditioning (when persons learn to anticipate and to prepare for significant events), and
operant or instrumental learning (when we learn by repeating acts people have come to
understand, which bring good results or pleasure to them and avoid those that bring bad
results or pain) (Myers, 1986).
Learning refers to habits and knowledge that develops as a result of the
experiences of the individual in entering and adjusting to the environment. This is
distinguished from unlearned or instinctive behavior which in some sense is present in
the individual at birth and determined by biology (Vold et al., 1998). Social learning
therefore examines or explains the social process people go through when they learn new
behavior through experiential or observational learning. Bandura (1969) for example
stressed that “virtually all learning phenomena resulting from direct experience can occur
on a vicarious basis through observation of other person’s behavior and its consequences
for them’’ (p. 118)
Tarde (1912), who vehemently opposed Lombroso’s biological deterministic
approach of criminal behavior, claimed that people are not born criminal as Lombroso
and others exerted, they become criminals. He argued that all the important acts of social
life are carried out under the domination of imitation – modeling: “men imitate one
another in the proportion with which they are in close contact’’ and the “inferior imitates
the superior’’ (p. 295). This explains Bandura’s position that “aggression can be acquired

49

by imitating aggressive models, whether real people, filmed people, or cartoon
characters’’ (Bandura, 1970; Fiske, 2010, p. 377). According to Bandura (1970),
witnessed aggression could lead to aggression by observers. His experiment with the
Bobo doll is a good case in point (Bandura, 1970). Bandura (1970) for example, claims
that research had shown that television is a great influence in the teaching of aggressive
styles of conduct especially to adolescents. Tarde (1912) claimed that when two mutually
exclusive fashions come together, one can be substituted for the other. When this
happens, there is a decline in the older method and an increase in the newer method. He
emphasized that criminal behavior and non criminal behavior are acquired through the
same process.
Sutherland (1939) drawing from two basic elements – cognitive element and
symbolic interactionism as developed by George Herbert Mills asserted in his
“Differential Association Theory’’ that criminal behavior is learned; in close interaction
with other people through the process of communication. He further stated that the
principal part of learning criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups, more
specifically, that the process involved in learning criminal behavior by association with
criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanism that are involved in any
other learning. A person becomes criminal because of an excess of definitions favorable
to the violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law. Moreover, when
criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes the techniques of committing the
crime, which is sometimes very complicated, and sometimes very simple.
Burgess and Akers (1966) in their differential association-reinforcement theory
integrated the concept of operant conditioning into Sutherland’s theory of differential

50

association by reorganizing Sutherland’s nine principles into seven: 1) Deviant behavior
is learned according to the principle of operant conditioning; (2) Deviant behavior is
learned both in non-social situations that are reinforcing or discriminating and through
that social interaction in which the behavior of other persons is reinforcing or
discriminating for such behavior; (3) The principal part of the learning of deviant
behavior occurs in those groups that comprise or control the individual’s major source of
reinforcements; (4) The learning of deviant behavior, including specific techniques,
attitudes, and avoidance procedures, is a function of the effective and available reinforcers and the existing reinforcement contingencies; (5) The specific class of behavior
learned and its frequency of occurrence are a function of the effective and available reinforcers, and the deviant or non-deviant direction of the norms, rules, and definitions that
in the past have accompanied the reinforcement; (6) The probability that a person will
commit deviant behavior is increased in the presence of normative statements,
definitions, and verbalizations that, in the process of differential reinforcement of such
behavior over conforming behavior, have acquired discriminative value; and (7) The
strength of deviant behavior is a direct function of the amount, frequency, and probability
of its reinforcement. The modalities of association with deviant patterns are important
insofar as they affect the source, amount, and scheduling of reinforcement. They
emphasized the belief that humans learn to define rewarded behaviors as positive and that
an individual’s criminal behavior is rewarded at least sometimes by those who value it.
Akers later added that differential reinforcement and instrumental conditioning behavior
is a function of the frequency, amount, and probability of experienced and perceived

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contingent rewards and punishments and imitation - the behavior of others and its
consequence are observed and modeled
Also building upon Sutherland’s differential association theory, Daniel Glaser
(1956) in his theory of “Differential identification’’ suggested that the process of
differential association leads to an intimate personal identification with offenders,
resulting in criminal acts. And that a person pursues crime to the extent that he or she
identifies with real or imaginary persons from whose perspective the criminal behavior
seems acceptable that the symbolic process of identification determines behavior, and
role models can be abstract ideas as well as actual persons.
Kubrin et al. (2009) in “Social Learning Theory’’, explained that unlike those
theories that view crime as a lower class phenomenon or produced by strain, the social
learning theories indicate that criminal behavior is learned from others in a process
similar to that which people use to learn to read and to write. Kubrin et al. (2009)
examined assumptions, research and policy implications of the social learning theories.
As Kubrin et al. explained, the social learning theory focuses on four main conceptsdefinitions, differential association, differential reinforcement and imitation.
Dana Haynie (2002) in the study of the nature of friendship networks among
adolescents concluded that
contrary to the common sense idea that adolescents become involved in crime/
delinquency because of lack of social and/or human capital (e. g., social control and
social disorganization theory ) or due to an impulsive personality trait (e. g., self
control theory), adolescents become delinquent if they are located in friendship
networks that support and facilitate delinquency ( p. 104 ).

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Robert Burgess and Ronald L. Akers (1966) synthesized the concept of operant
conditioning and Sutherland’s theory of differential association to form “Differential
association-reinforcement theory of criminal behavior’’. They reorganized Sutherland’s
nine principles into seven and emphasized the belief that humans learn to define
rewarded behaviors as positive and that an individual’s criminal behavior is rewarded at
least sometimes by those who value it
Anomie and Strain Theories
Anomie and strain theories are social structure theories. As social structure
theories, they examine how crime is related to the institutional arrangement or the social
system. Moreover, social structure theorists are essentially interested in knowing the
characteristics of the situation or social structure in which crime takes place. Regarding
street children, these theories could illuminate social structures that are more conducive
to the presence of street children than others. Passas (1990) wrote “that the concept of
anomie has been employed in very different ways, in different disciplines, at different
times” (Passas, 1990, p. 92) and to mean different things to different people. Its history
can be traced through classical Greek philosophy, religious writings and psychological
works (Orru, 1987). It acquired various connotations ranging from the Greek a-nomos
(lawlessness) to sin, sacrilege, normative breakdown, and individual derangement
(Besnard, 1987, 1988; Passas, 1990)
To some scholars, the term “anomie’’ is a sociological concept, meaning a state of
normlessness or the personal feeling of lack of social norms. This also could be a state of
confusion produced by rapidly shifting moral values. Although, renowned French

53

sociologist Emile Durkheim has been credited with coming the term “anomie, he actually
borrowed it from the French philosopher Jean Marie Guyau.
According to Kubrin et al. (2009), anomie and strain theories are distinctive
because they theorize that crime results from pressure. Depending on the version of the
theory, the pressure to commit crime can come from a variety of sources. The pressure
derivable from anomie or strain can manifest from simple or complex situations such as
“not having money to buy something that one wants, to anger as a result of perceived
mistreatment by parents or teachers.
Emile Durkheim (1897) had used the “anomie” to describe the social malaise that
accompanies the breakdown of existing social rules and values brought about by rapid
social change; and to explain the state that result from the degrees of imbalance of two
social forces: social integration and moral regulation. Anomie then indicates a mismatch
between personal or group standards and wider social standards, or the lack of social
ethic, which produces moral deregulation and the absence of legitimate aspirations (Star,
Bowker, & Naumann, 1997). Durkheim (1897) claimed that when established norms,
customs, and practices are made obsolete, the result is a collective sense of social
insecurity and normlessness. Anomic condition occurs when the rule of law is weakened
and become powerless to maintain social control. He further claimed that in a society
where there is too much rigidity and little discretion could also produce a kind of anomie,
a kind of mismatch between individual circumstances and larger social mores (Star,
Bowker, & Naumann, 1997). In Durkheim’s study on suicide which provided the
foundation or the bedrock for his claim, he indicated that indeed human misconduct lies
not in the individual but in the group or social organization. Consequently, Durkheim

54

using the concept of anomie in relation to the division of labor, degree of social cohesion
and integration emphasized that anomic suicide is committed by people when society is
in crisis or undergoing rapid social or economic change. In such times, customary norms
are usually weakened and the social control mechanism broken down. With no clear
standards of behavior to guide them, society becomes disorganized, the people become
hopeless and confused, and their lives become aimless and meaningless (Durkheim,
1897).
Merton (1938) on the other hand, wrote about the American context after the
Great Depression. Merton’s (1938) strain theory drew from a structural functionalist
perspective and more specifically from the concept of “anomic suicide’’ as developed by
Durkheim. Merton argued that the motivation for crime is frequently derived from
society. According to him, anomie is a disjunction between socially approved means to
success and the legitimate means to attain the success (goals) – a dysfunction between the
American dream (a cultural value) of success and social structure (means of achieving).
In other words, anomie is a condition that occurs when discrepancies exist between
societal goals and the means available for their achievement (Hagan, 2011; Merton,
1938).
Merton (1938) explained that the nature of American society generates deviance
given the strong emphasis on monetary success and a weak emphasis on legitimate means
for success. The disjunction between the cultural and social structure places many
citizens, but particularly fiscally disadvantaged persons in the position of desiring
unreachable goals. Moreover, the cultural emphasis on success diminishes the power of
institutional norms to regulate behavior (Merton, 1938).

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Merton (1938) noted that as anomie becomes prevalent, people are free to pursue
success goals with whatever means are available, legitimate, or illegitimate. For
example, the young Nigerian immigrant in the typical America dream-like culture dreams
of the great American cultural ethos – “the American dream’’. He wants to be a part of it
all but may lack what it takes to achieve it. And as such, the young immigrant employs
illegal means to achieve goals that are culturally approved. Merton added that the
extreme emphasis upon the accumulation of wealth as a symbol of success in the
American society militates against the completely effective control of institutionally
regulated modes of acquiring a fortune.
Merton (1938) in his analysis indicated that among the elements of social and
cultural structures, two are of utmost importance. The first consists of culturally defined
goals, purposes and interests and the second concerns the regulation and control of the
acceptable modes of achieving the goals. There are five modes of adjustment or
adaptation by individual within the culture-bearing society or group. These are:
conformity, innovation, ritualistic, retreatism and rebellion. He insisted that in every
society, Adaptation 1 which is conformity to both cultural goals and means is the most
common and widely diffused and as he suggested, innovation was the mode most likely
to be associated with crime. Inadequate socialization, Merton concluded will result in the
innovation response whereby the conflict and frustration are eliminated by relinquishing
the institutional means and retaining the success aspiration.
Durkheim and Merton’s difference in backgrounds could explain the difference in
their theoretical orientations. Durkheim, a Jew was born in a small French town on the
German border. France had witnessed unprecedented turmoil generated by the French

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Revolution of 1789 and by the rapid industrialization of the French society. Nisbet (1965)
wrote that “in terms of immediacy and massiveness of impact on human thought and
values, it is impossible to find revolutions of comparable magnitude anywhere in human
history” (Nisbet, 1965, p. 20). Durkheim was greatly interested in the analysis of social
changes societies go through as a result of industrialization when a societies experience
some degrees of imbalance between two social forces: social integration and moral
regulation and when they move from a mechanical, a simple and a more primitive
homogeneous society to an organic, complex and a more heterogeneous or diverse
society. Consequently, his theory of crime reflects an overall theory of modernization –
the progression of societies from the mechanical to the organic form.
Messner and Rosenfield (2001) explained that Merton may have identified two
ways in which social institutions in America produce crime – emphasizing the goal of
success much more that the means to achieve it and having a high degree of inequality in
society. He however, failed to explain the role of social institutions (the cultural
universals), e.g., economic, family, education and polity in regulating behavior (Messner
& Rosenfield, 2001).
In their contribution, Messner and Rosenfield (2001) explained that in America,
the economy is the dominant institution. It overwhelmingly dominates all other
institutions and as a result non-economic institutions accommodate to economic
requirements and economic norms penetrate other institutions. This dominance, they
emphasized creates the inability of other social institutions to regulate behavior (Messner
& Rosenfield, 2001).

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Messner and Rosenfield (2001) explained that American capitalism is extreme in
its emphasis on success and innovation compared to other societies. The high crime rate
in the United States they claimed is due to the overwhelming strength of economic
institution over non-economic institutions. Consequently, crime is higher because social
control is reduced. Messner and Rosenfeld declared that the American culture
characterized by the American dream is a powerful force in the American society.
According to them, this is so because it exemplifies “the basic value commitments of the
culture: its achievement orientation, individualism, universalism, and peculiar form of
materialism that has been described as the fitism of money’’ (p.62).
Moreover, the American culture is characterized by a strong emphasis on the goal
of monetary success and a weak emphasis on the importance of the legitimate means for
the pursuit of success. This combination of strong pressures to succeed monetarily and
the weak restraints on the selection of means is intrinsic to the dominant cultural ethos:
The American dream. The American dream contributes to offending by promoting and
sustaining an institutional structure in which one institution – the economy- assumes
dominance over all others ( Messner & Rosenfeld 2001)
Strain theorist, Robert Agnew (1985) proclaimed that strain can come from a
variety of sources other than economic failure. Included in these kinds of strains is the
presentation of negative stimuli and the loss or withdrawal of positive stimuli. Agnew
claimed that strain is more likely to lead to negative affective states such as fear,
frustration, anger and depression, which in turn can lead to crime. He added that groups
with higher levels of strains and fewer resources for coping will invariably experience
higher crime rates.

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Thus, this study was designed through theoretical lens that social disorganization
and strain facilitate the existence of circumstances whereby street children learn to
engage in delinquency
The Literature on Street Children
An empirical examination of juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria
reveals that not much research has been done. While there are some literatures on street
children and related social problems, such as child labor and child sexual exploitation
worldwide, there is a dearth of information specifically on Nigeria (Oloko, 1989; Nte,
Eke and Igbanibo, 2012; UNICEF, 2007). Although some scholars may have postulated
their philosophical reasons as to why juveniles on the streets offend, the researcher was
unable to locate a rigorous empirical study to explain the phenomenon. In recent years,
scholars have become increasingly interested in doing studies in the area of the plights of
the street children worldwide.
Conticini (2008) noted that, “Nearly 20 years after the emergence of a specialized
literature on homeless children and youth, best practices are still rare and a divide
remains between scholars’ understanding of street children” (p. 413). He argued that
while much of the literature available is still entrapped in a sort of pathology of case
studies unable to provide systematic information to policy makers and practitioners, his
paper presents a grounded theory to predict the consequences of street life and to plan
intervention accordingly.
Conticini (2008) lamented that the quality of research contributes to its limited
influence on policy makers and practitioners. The research is mainly descriptive and not
analytical; research does not look sufficiently at programmatic implications; the

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individual case studies do not develop an overarching theoretical framework; the studies
tends to be reductionist as it focuses mainly on children’s predicaments instead of their
livelihoods strategies. Conticini (2008) argued that although there are some exceptions to
these deficits found in specialized literature, much of the works remain disjointed,
disorganized and a barrier to cross-disciplinary approaches.
Bibars (1998) claimed that, very little published work existed on either street
children or on juvenile delinquents, to draw from at the time of his study and as such, he
drew from the unpublished study of five corrective institutions carried out by an
unmentioned Egyptian expert and on the children who were there. He further claimed that
the phenomenon of street children is relatively new to Egypt, and that it is only very
recent that the Egyptian government and its citizenry started acknowledging that the
problem exists (Bibars, 1998). In his words,
The term street children in itself has very negative connotations, especially as the
street is correlated with crime, vagrancy and deviance. Until the end of the 1990s, no
effort was made to differentiate between juvenile delinquents and the children who
live and work on the streets or remain there during the day (p. 39).
According to him, a large number of children leave home for the street because of
physical and sexual assault.
Demographic Characteristics of Street Children in Other Countries
Timothy Gilgoyle (2004) examined the demographic characteristics of the street
child and juvenile street pickpocket in the United States. During the 19th century, their
rise could be traced to the social ecology of industrialization. He observed that as
newspaper boys (Newsboys) routinely waved a newspaper in the face of a potential

60

customer, he or she reached into the victim’s pockets.

Indeed, pick pocketing emerged

as an underground alternative to the traditional but vanishing forms of apprenticeship in
the new urban economic markets. Thus, most often, older teenage street pickpockets
taught the secrets of the trade to the younger apprentices. At early times when parks and
play grounds were nonexistent or readily unavailable, the streets served multiple
purposes. For most of the street child pickpockets, the street was a place for amusement,
social center and a workplace.
The street child or the street child pickpocket was predominantly male, and
derided as the “rat’’, gamin, Arab, urchins, and the gutter-snipes lacking formal
education, adult supervision and even a home. Combining New York State crime
statistics collected by Police Chief George Matsell and Rev. Samuel Halliday, Gilgoyle
(2004) indicated that approximately 10,000 to 30,000 lived in the New York’s streets
while about 12,000 homeless youths could be found wandering in the streets (Gilgoyle,
2004). Gilgoyle (2004) concluded that the combination of declining apprenticeships, the
increasing proletarianization of the industrial occupations and poorly enforced school
attendance provided conducive atmosphere for street children to engage in juvenile
offending.
Altanis and Goddard (2003) reviewed the problem of street children in Greece
within the context of global research on street children. They confirmed that the problem
of street children is an under-research area, with weak policy responses to a problem
associated with recent patterns of European migration. As they claimed, it is difficult to
find a commonly acceptable definition of the term street children especially when people

61

tend to congregate and overlap it with other such terms like homeless children, and
runaways.
Altanis and Goddard (2003) explained that the term “street children” is relative
and cultural or socially driven. Children living and working on the street tend to differ in
their characteristics between continents, countries, cities and even within the same urban
areas. Consequently, as implied, it becomes impossible to generalize about the typical
street child. However, they declared, there is general agreement that the term refers to
children and young people who have early street life experience and who usually spend
most of their time in the street, in the sense that they use the street as the principal place
of their main daily activities such as working, eating and sleeping. The United Nations
for example, defines the street child as “any boy or girl … for whom the street has
become his or her abode and / or source of livelihood; and who is inadequately protected,
supervised, or directed by responsible adults’’ (United Nations, 1985, p.6)
Altanis et al. (2003) provided some statistical data to illustrate their point that the
phenomenon of the street child demands immediate governmental policy attention. Some
global estimates have been as high as 80 million, with approximately one half from Latin
America (Altanis et al., 2003). UNICEF in their report of 1986 had estimated that about
100 million to 150 million children worldwide live, work and sleep on the streets.
Ranging in ages from 3 to 18, about 40% of them are homeless while the other 60% work
on the streets to support their families. Out of the 100 to 150 million street children, an
estimated 10 million live and work in the streets in Africa (UNICEF, 1986).
Aptekar (1989) examined the psychological characteristics of 56 Colombian
children between the ages of 7 and 16 (with an average age of 11.6) from a participant

62

observational perspective and the use of three psychological test results administered to
the children. The study looked at boys only. As Aptekar (1989) explained, although, girls
live and work on the streets; these girls are classified by the general public in Colombia
as prostitutes and not street children. Many religious organizations have programs
designed for them. The most common programs for girls involve putting them in private
homes run under the auspices of nuns, applying the prefaces of Christianity to change
them to more conventional ways of society. According to Aptekar (1989), in order for the
researchers to observe the participants in a more representative sample of their natural
habitat, the researchers collected information on the participants over the time period of
nine months and three different locations.
In Colombia, Aptekar (1989) estimated that about 40 million Colombian children
live on the crowded and busy streets of Latin American cities apparently without parental
control and authority, surviving any way they can. Aptekar (1989) added that these
children are usually perceived as children abandoned by their families, an inevitable
consequence of cruelty or poverty and of course characterized as pitiful. The study
reviewed that there was plenty of poverty in the culture of these children. According to
Aptekar, in Ochoa’s (1979) study, 63% of Colombia children in 1979 were suffering from
malnutrition; and that the infant mortality rate in Colombia appears to be the highest in
the world with 97 in every 1,000 (Aptekar, 1979; de Galan, 1981). Aptekar (1979)
argued that although, most of the children in the study were from poor families, poverty
alone could not be used to explain the presence of children on the streets. Ingoldsby
(1991) examined the relationship between family life and street children in Columbia.
Specifically, the article discussed the process of becoming a street child in Columbia. The

63

Columbian term for street children, runaways or abandoned children who live on their
own and make their living on the street is gamine. Ingoldsby noted that there were
approximately 5,000 gamines living in Bogota, the capital city of Columbia. These
gamines can be classified into four groups. The Pregamine Gamine is a child who still
lives at home but spends most of his or her time on the street, occasionally staying away
from home for two or more days at a time, whereas, the Neighborhood Gamine is the boy
or girl who lives in the street but has not fully left the general area of his or her home and
may visit his family home from time to time. The other types of Gamine, Ingoldsby
(1991) included the Street Gamine, who is the true Gamine or the true street child. The
street Gamine according to him, is that boy or girl who has left home for the street and
makes his or her livelihood by stealing. The older boys who are usually about 14 or older
who may invariably become a marginalized unskilled worker or a member of the
organized gang engaged in the business of stealing is usually referred to as the Predelinquent Gamines.
Ingoldsby (1991) indicated that may gamines beg in the streets and on buses, and
with implied threats of violence, intimidate the passersby into giving them some money.
The study indicated that gamine is the product of poverty, invariably caused by
unemployment which by the Columbian economy is structured to be consistently and
extremely high, thus creating undue hardship and poverty. Ingoldsby (1991), quoting
deNicolo (1987), noted that due to poverty, it is impossible to hold the family together.
The boys leave homes possibly because of lack of love at home, child abuse, neglect of
basic needs due to parental unemployment, parental rejection, the strains of economic

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poverty and the desire to experience freedom of the street (deNicolo, 1987; Ingoldsby,
1991).
deNicolo (1987) described how a young man moves from the country to the city
in search of a better life. But he does not find it. He falls in love with a young lady; they
get married, and begin to have children. As time goes on, since the man cannot find work,
he becomes depressed, acts irresponsibly and eventually leaves his wife and children.
“They can have sex but they cannot eat’’ (deNicolo, 1987; Ingoldsby, 1991, p.74). Bikel
(1979) added that in due time, another man moves in with the children’s mother and
assumes the role of the stepfather. Bikel (1979) insisted that about half (47%) have
stepfathers; and the stepfathers are typically not interested in the fruits of the previous
union, so they tend to push the boys away when they are about 8-12 years old. These
boys feel rejected and leave for the streets. They leave home to escape from the sexual
and physical abuse by their stepfathers.
Grundling and Grundling (2005) described the general characteristics, behavioral
patterns and the causes of street children in the Republic of Namibia with the view of
presenting a clearer picture of the phenomenon and making the necessary
recommendation on how to prevent and manage the phenomenon to the government of
Namibia which appears confused about how to deal with the phenomenon. They claimed
that the problem of street children in the Republic of Namibia is not quite different from
what is experienced in other Third World countries where the economic climate favors
unemployment and poverty, invariably resulting in cultural degeneration and desperate
antisocial behavioral patterns. Tacon (1991) estimated that the number of street children

65

in Namibia was as high as 2300 with about 700-800 living in the capital city of Windhoek
alone.
Grundling and Grundling (2005) explained that despite the economic prosperity
of the Republic of Namibia owing to the abundance of its mineral reserves and rich
fisheries, a majority of its inhabitants can be described as people living in deep and
widespread poverty. As Grundling and Grundling (2005) further explained, the nation’s
wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few (65% of the country’s income shared
among only 10% of the population with the rest 90% sharing the remaining 35%).
Grundling and Grundling (2005) theorized that poverty, unemployment, and
income inequality are responsible for the phenomenon of street children in the Republic
of Namibia, a southwestern African country boundaried in the south by South Africa,
Botswana in the east, and Angola in the north. According to them, the National
Household and Expenditure Survey (CSO, 1996) conducted in 1996 indicates that 53% or
129,758 of all Namibian households are classified as poor with the standardized
consumption level of N$7200, an equivalent of $1,000 or less per annum, while 10% of
the inhabitants have been classified as very poor. They noted that the phenomenon of
street children is not specifically an urban phenomenon and that street children are found
everywhere, in urban and rural areas at any hour of the day. Worldwide children turn to
the streets in an attempt to resolve problems that arise from the social structures and
situations in which they find themselves.
Grundling and Grundling (2005) used a mixed method approach to study street
children in Namibia in both rural and urban areas of Namibia with a sample of 243 street
children, out of which 208 respondents were actually interviewed. The children were

66

interviewed on the street, at shelters, or at official places of safety. They also interviewed
community and volunteer workers, social workers and other professional involved with
street children. They concluded that the typical street child in Namibia is male, between
the ages of 6 and 18 and likely to come from the Nama-Damara group.
Street Children, Urbanization and Neighborhood Conditions in Nigeria
Nigeria is the largest Black African country, with a recent census population of
over 130 million people. Nigeria, although endowed with rich natural resources and
extensive human resources, has not developed the necessary technological, industrial,
managerial and political know-how to pull its resources together in a sound economy to
take care of the basic needs of its population. As a result, poverty and hard living
conditions are prevalent, affecting children in particular. The country faces social
upheaval, cultural conflict, gradual industrialization and imperfect attempts at
westernization.
Ebigbo (1983) added that the traditional culture of the people of Nigeria has been
greatly affected and a major source of the maintenance of this culture, namely the
extended family system (which promoted a philosophy of "I am my brother's keeper"), is
disintegrating. He emphasized that consumerism and get rich-quick western thinking
have led to rural-urban migration and the emergence of the urban poor. These migrants
take on menial jobs and form the bulk of the traders in the streets and market places
(Ebigbo, 1983).
Urbanization as a way of life is often characterized by extensive conflicts of
norms; by rapid social change; by increased population; by emphasis on material goods
and individualism; and by a marked decline in intimate communication (Wirth, 1938).

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Cities vary in the extent or degree to which they are characterized by urban qualities.
Moreover, certain cultural values in a society may increase the effect of urbanization. If a
culture emphasizes material possessions as a central value, the impersonality of urban life
will tend to increase that emphasis (Clinard, 1964). Crime and delinquency, characteristic
of industrialized Western societies are now common in Nigerian cities, especially the
capital city of Lagos. Lagos has been bedeviled with over-population, increased poverty,
high unemployment rates, undue competition among tribal group and corruption in high
and lower places. The dominant inhabitants of Lagos, the Yoruba people have been
known for their emphasis on materialism.
Okojie and Okojie (2000) explained that Nigeria is a multi-cultural country with
diverse ethnic and religious identity with an estimated population of over 120 million
people. Available records show that over 60% of the population lives below the poverty
line and women and children, especially those in rural areas, form a large part of the poor.
They further explained that most families, unable to cope with exorbitant costs of
education are forced to withdraw their female children from school (Okojie &Okojie,
2002). Okojie and Okojie noted that in a study conducted by the Women’s Health and
Action Research Center (WHARC, 2002) where 1,456 randomly selected women
between the ages of 15 to 30 were interviewed, most of the respondents, about 60%
claimed that lack of economic means of survival is a major contributing factor to teenage
girls in Nigeria leaving home for the street or to prostitute overseas (Okojie &Okojie,
2002; WHARC, 2002).
Altanis et al., (2003) exclaimed that the phenomenon of the street children is
related to a variety of circumstances. According to them, such circumstances include

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family breakdown, unemployment, poverty, membership group, armed conflict and
natural disaster; escape from abusive backgrounds and situations. They also claimed that
the phenomenon is also related to a variety of motives, including escape from abusive
backgrounds and the various attractions of city life.
The etiology of this phenomenon appears multi-factorial. Fakoya (2009)
explained that Nigerian children are caught up in the struggle for survival occasioned by
the dearth of technological and infrastructural development in Nigeria leading to mass
exodus from rural to urban centers in search of better living conditions thus enhancing the
disintegration of the extended family system which hitherto had promoted the concept of
brotherhood and shared responsibility. He continued that other causative factors
contributing to the menace include marital problems or instability in the home, poverty,
hunger, insecurity, abuse and violence from parents, displacement caused by clashes in
the community, insufficient parental care, death of one or both parents, inadequate family
income, unemployment of one or both parents, lack of (or limited) opportunities in
education, abandonment by parents, housing difficulties, drug use by children, and peer
influence (Fakoya, 2009).
Utilizing youth self reported data from a four year longitudinal study of the 5th and
8th grade youth and their parents, Law and Barber, (2006) examined the relationship
between neighborhood conditions, parenting of youths and youth anti-social behavior.
Specifically, the study measured the association between youth anti-social behavior, six
dimensions of neighborhood influence, and three dimensions of parenting. As Law and
Barber (2006) explained, parenting and neighborhood conditions are the two major social
factors that affect youth anti-social behavior. The findings of the study indicate that the

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higher levels of parental acceptance and monitoring are significantly associated with
lower levels of anti-social behavior; and that there was also a significant association
between a higher level of collective social control and a lower level of psychological
control and anti-social behavior.
UNICEF has conducted or sponsored extensive studies in several areas
concerning the children of the world. One of its studies is titled “Rapid Assessment of
Street Children In Lusaka’’, conducted in April and May 2001 under the auspices of a
network of NGOs providing services to street children in Zambia, and jointly initiated by
Project Concern International Zambia (PCIZ), Fountain of Hope, Jesus Cares Ministries,
Project Lazarus, MAPODE (Movement of Community Action for the Prevention and
Protection of Young People Against Poverty, Destitution, Disease and Exploitation),
Zambia Red Cross Drop-In Centre, St. Lawrence Home of Hope (Project Concern
International Zambia, 2002)
According to the author, the study utilized both primary and secondary data. At
the initial stage, the study utilized the secondary data (questionnaires) originally
developed and used by Fountain of Hope (FOH) and Project Concern InternationalZambia (PCI) in a survey of street children in Ndola, Kitwe, Nchelenge, Kabwe, and
Livingstone. Seminars involving three workshops were conducted to obtain input from
the other NGOs involved in the assessment and the MCDSS, and to develop a revised
questionnaire (primary data) for use in the Lusaka rapid assessment. This questionnaire
was adapted for more efficient data entry and processing by a consultant from the
University of Zambia. All data collectors were staff members of the NGOs (Project
Concern International Zambia, 2002).

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In selecting the participants for the survey, the city of Lusaka was divided into
zones, and each participating NGO was assigned to a given zone of the city (based on
where the NGO was already operating). Several street children that were currently under
the care of an NGO were first included in the sample and interviewed. Interviews were
conducted during the day, in local languages, using the English questionnaire as a guide.
All street children (about 1,264) found in the selected sites were interviewed. Street
children were identified by the interviewers using criteria such as appearance, language,
and assessment of their activities (begging, scavenging, leading the blind, sleeping in
corridors, gambling). Selected street children, gang leaders, and shop owners in the case
of shopping areas were also used to help identify additional street children. The study
which utilized a large sample of about 1,264 participants was jointly sponsored by
UNICEF, Zambia, Netaid and the West Foundation (Project Concern International
Zambia, 2002).
Street children live in close proximity on the street. According to a 2002 UNICEF
report, street children sleep, work and eat together on the streets, in abandoned building,
and under the bridges (UNICEF, 2002). On the streets, they learn good and bad behaviors
from each other. In Lagos, Nigeria, it is common sight to see children conduct their living
on the streets, in abandoned or dilapidated building, markets and under bridges at night.
On the streets or in their abode apart from properly constituted homes, they learn good
and bad behavior from each other (UNICEF, 2002).
Aransiola, Bamiwuye, Akinyemi,and Ikuteyijo (2009) explained that the
increasing number of children on the street is a global concern. These street children are
community children as they are offspring of the world’s community. A Nigerian response,

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the Nigerian Child Act of 2003 was designed to improve the standard of life of children
and the standard of practice by government social welfare agencies and the police. To
address such global concerns, the United Nations organized a global convention in which
Nigeria was one of the participants. The Nigerian Police, for example, are charged with
the responsibility of executing government policies and protecting the rights of the
citizen. Aransiola et al emphasized that section 50 of the Nigerian Child Acts
promulgated of 2003 empowers the police officer into custody or to the court if he has
reasonable grounds to believe that a child is an orphan, neglected or in any situation that
could hamper his or her growth and development. The finding of the study indicated that
the relationship between the Nigerian police and street children was that of “cat and rat”
(Aransiola et al., 2009, p.377). The report revealed that 50.2% of the respondents had
claimed that they did not have cordial relationship with the police. Such findings seem
common in developing countries.
Aransiola et al et al. (2009) conducted a mixed method’s study administrating
questionnaires to 500 street children selected by convenience sampling from each of the
three study locations – Lagos, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt. Six focus group discussions
were also conducted in each of the communities with different categories of community
members– opinion leaders, adults, and youths. Each of the focus discussion groups
contained eight to 12 participants. The quantitative approach on the other hand utilized
secondary data collected from relevant government agencies and ministries and analyzed
using inferential statistics.
In the same study, Aransiola et. al. (2009) examined among other issues, the
social demographic characteristics of street children (both children “on’’ the street) and

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children “of’’ the street. As they claimed, Nigeria is predominantly patriarchal, and like
most other patriarchal societies, male children are expected to contribute to the family
income while female children are expected to stay at home to help their mothers in
household matters. As a result, many street boys leave home for the streets in order to
fend for their families and also because they have been socialized to be independent. The
girls on the other hand leave home to flee very difficult domestic problems.
The findings of the study also indicated that 83.1% of the respondents were males
while the rest were females. The data on educational achievement of street children
revealed that 26.7% and 26.2% of respondents dropped out of primary and secondary
schools respectively while only 23.5% completed primary school. Meanwhile 23.6% of
the respondents had no formal education. In the northern Nigeria, the study further
indicated that the majority of the respondents (about 46.2%) had no formal education.
Aransiola et al., (2009) concluded that many factors have been linked to the
proliferation of street children in Nigeria. These factors include: family disorganization,
urbanization, modernization and the impact of HIV/AIDS (Aransiola, Bamiwuye,
Akinyemi, & Ikuteyijo, 2009). Moreover, the extended family system which has virtually
disintegrated due to urbanization, physical dispersion of family members and that the
influence of capitalism and globalization has not helped matters (Aransiola, Bamiwuye,
Akinyemi, & Ikuteyijo, 2009; Owasanoye & Okunsanya, 2004). Aransiola et al. (2009)
explained that the family disintegration, coupled with sudden uncontrollable population
explosion, the increase in maternal mortality and the number of children orphaned by
HIV/AIDS have contributed to the problems of street children in Nigeria, especially in
Nigeria (Aransiola, Bamiwuye, Akinyemi, & Ikuteyijo, 2009).

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Juvenile offending among street children or juvenile gangs have become
somewhat permanent features of large urban areas with a heavy concentration of the poor
and racial minorities (Sheldon et al., 2004). True to that picture, since the early 1980s,
gangs among street children have become a permanent feature of Lagos, a city that once
served as the federal capital of Nigeria and the most urbanized city of the country.
According to Wirth (1938), the growth of modern cities has meant the development of a
way of life much different from that of rural world.
Heap (2010) explains that in the heart of Lagos (where the Area Boys live and
practice their acts in the street), the phenomenon of the urban ghetto is apparent, just as it
is in many Western cities (Heap, 2010). Heap (2010) in his explanation of the various
types of juvenile delinquency among street urban youths in Nigeria argued that the streets
of Lagos are the workshops where criminally minded jobless youths who deal in robbery,
extortion, and blackmail through the explorations of street-life, and vagrancy learn the
trade of criminality (Heap, 2010). Quoting a Nigeria national newspaper, Heap (2010)
claimed that these criminally minded under- the- bridge dwellers living a vagrant
existence dealing in robbery, extortion, and blackmail were initiated into the underground
world and taught all sorts of criminal activities. In his words,
It was a school for drug peddlers, pickpockets, extortionists, hooligans and armed
robbers. … They are desperadoes of 12-14 years of age who make this graveyard
their home, stealing food from the market places, cooking and eating communally in
the evening, later sleeping out under the stars (Heap, p. 48).
Heap (2010) further explains the life of juvenile delinquents in the street of Lagos
like this: “Their Days are spent in gambling and loafing, pimping for prostitutes, and

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picking pockets because that is the way to live, carelessly, irresponsibly, among good
companions (Heap, p. 48). Heap (2010), quoting Simeon Bankole-Wright (1944)
exclaimed that the major factors responsible for juvenile delinquency in the streets of
Lagos include: broken homes, imprisonment or death of the breadwinner, unemployment,
bad housing that makes the home a mere den or resting place to be escaped as much as
possible, the effects of drink and vice on home life, bad company and the influence of the
gangs, low mentality, and illiteracy. Other factors, Heap (2010)) added include defects in
the existing educational system, the quest for new experience, movement and change, the
failure of a community to provide suitable outlets for the instinctive life of its young
ones, and certain types of physical degeneracy that are well recognized or
feeblemindedness, chronic epilepsy, congenital deaf-mutism and habitual pauperism and
other unknown causes (Bankole-Wright, 1944; Heap, 2010).
Street Children as a Social Resistance Movement
Some scholars have argued that juvenile offenders among street children, the
Area Boys of Lagos for example have always existed, originally, not as a gang of thieves,
robbers and murderers but as a social resistance movement to marginalization and
oppression, protesting the complexity of social differentiation, inequality of wealth,
polarization of living conditions brought about by the over-population and the
deteriorating effects of their homes and neighborhoods; growth in poverty and
deprivation, unemployment and hunger brought about by the dwindling effect of bad
economic planning by corrupt government administrators of Nigeria, which subsequently
necessitated the implementation of the structural adjustment act of 1986.

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Fromm and Maccoby (1970) explained this kind of social resistant movement to
marginalization and oppression as “The concept of social character - a syndrome of
character traits which develops as an adaptation to the economic, social, and cultural
conditions common to a group (Fromm & Maccoby (1970; Jankowski, 1991, p.23).
Meanwhile, Jankowski (1991) calls it “Inequality, the Quest for good life and defiant
individualism’’ (Jankowski, 1991, p.23).
According to Jankowski (1991), the defiant individualist character is comprised of
seven attributes: competitiveness, mistrust or wariness, self-reliance, social isolation,
survival instinct, social darwinistic worldview, and defiant air. As Jankowski (1991)
explained that street gangs emerge not as a result of disorganization and/or the desire to
find order and safety, but as a consequence of a particular type of social order associated
with low income neighborhoods. He added that “low income neighborhoods in American
cities are, in fact, organized around intense competition for, and conflict over, the scarce
resources that exists in these areas. They comprise an alternative social order. He argued
that “since poor neighborhoods have scarcity of resources, so do the families that live in
them. It is the experience within the family that lays the seeds of competitiveness
(Jankowski, 1991, p.24). In this Hobbesian world, the street gang emerges as one
organizational response- but not the only one – seeking to improve the competitive
advantage of its members in obtaining an increase in material resources (Jankowski,
1991).
Most juvenile offenders in the street emerged in Lagos as a gang, and it was the
social, economic and environmental conditions of Lagos that caused it. The homogenous
Lagos Island where everyone knew everyone became a disorganized, poor, over

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populated, heterogeneous and deteriorated urban city where it became a necessity for
inhabitants to compete for scarce resources and inadequate social services. Jankowski
(1991) stressed that competitiveness for scarce resources lead to mistrust or warlike
situations which could also lead to finding alternative ways to survive. Survival
necessitates self- reliance, which in some ways could lead to the break-down of law and
order or clear cut defiance or revolution.
The “Area Boys’’, a dominant force on the street emerged as an oppositional
institution, when members found themselves in new neighborhood uncharacteristic of
what they have been used, when they now realized that they had to compete for scarce
resources and they believe that they must protect and regain their lost glories, peace and
tranquility that existed in their neighborhood before the change. Wilson and Kelling
(1982) explained that if a glass of a window is broken in a home and the home owner
fails to fix it, others would think and feel that the home is abandoned because nobody
really cares about what happens to it. Before long, strangers that may have come around
may begin to break more windows in the home and before anyone knows it, the house is
no longer habitable (Wilson & Kelling, 1982). That is what happens in the disorganized
neighborhood. The Area Boys emerged as a gang to socially integrate those facets of the
neighborhood that need fixing and to take over the existing social, economic, political
control of the neighborhood. Every new government needs money for its operations and
management of affairs. Since the Area Boys of Lagos is not a legitimate or a constituted
government and most times have no legitimate money, it has to look somewhere else for
funds to take care of its businesses.

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Matusitz and Repass (2009) wrote that “A notorious Nigerian gang is called Yan
Daba, which roughly means “area boys” or “macho boys” (37). The Yan Daba members
are thugs; they are young men who are undereducated, underemployed, or simply
unemployed. They carry with them a sentiment of resistance identity and an enduring,
oppositional, and radicalized culture (Gifford, 1998, Matusitz, & Repass, 2009).
According to them, Area Boys are young male thugs who live in the streets, conduct their
clandestine meetings in Dabas, secret lairs usually found in derelict buildings or market
sites and take to the world of crime in the streets because educational and employment
opportunities are not available to them. They are usually considered revolutionaries who
earn their living through politically motivated thuggery (Matusitz & Repass 2009).
Street Children and Drug Use
Studies have found a significant relationship between street children (especially
those associated with gangs members) and drug use. Studies have consistently
demonstrated the negative consequences of gang involvement, most frequently citing the
association between gang membership and delinquent activities (Battin, Hill, Abbott,
Catalano, & Hawkins, 1998; Bobrowski, 1988; Curry & Spergel, 1992; Esbensen &
Huizinga, 1993; Maxson & Klein, 1990; Thornberry & Burch, 1997; Thornberry, Krohn,
Lizotte, & Chard-Wierschem, 1993), but also noting the connection between gangs and
involvement in illegal substances ( Esbensen, Huizinga, & Weiher, 1993; Fagan, 1989;
Short & Strodbeck, 1965; Spergel, 1995; Thrasher, 1927). Since its inception, research
examining the phenomenon of gang membership has noted that the consumption of
alcohol is a frequent activity in the gang setting (Cohen, 1955; Esbensen et al., 1993;
Shaw & McKay, 1942; Spergel, 1995; Thrasher, 1927). Likewise, researchers have also

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noted that gang members are more likely than nongang members to use illicit drugs
(Covey, Menard, & Franzese, 1997; Esbensen & Huizinga, 1993; Esbensen et al., 1993;
Harris, 1988; Huff, 1996; Sheldon, Tracy, & Brown, 2004; Spergel, 1995).
The drug and alcohol situations in Nigeria are not different. It is an
understatement to say that enormous drug abuse and addiction problem is not a
contributive factor to the serious nature of juvenile offending among street children in
Nigeria. Drug use is an expensive habit. Addicts can do anything from stealing to
prostitution to get money to support their expensive habit. They can even kill for the
same purpose. Rieman (2001) explains,
Let us do a simple arithmetic, suppose that there are half a million addicts with $100a-day habits. Suppose that they fill their habits only 250 days a year. And suppose
that they have to steal for half their drug needs, because they must convert their
booty into cash through a fence … If you have done your arithmetic, you have seen
that our half-million addicts need to steal $18,750,000,000 a year to support their
habits (p.44)
Professor Blumstein asserted that “you need money to buy drugs, so the higher
the price of the drug, the greater the incentive to commit the crime’’ (Rieman, 2001;
p.39). The Office of the National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), for example, declared
that Americans spent over $38 billion on cocaine, $10 billion on heroine, $7 billion on
marijuana, and $3billion on all other illegal drug and legal drugs used illegally…. About
287 to 340 tons of metric of cocaine were available for domestic consumption in 1995
(ONDCP 1988-1995; Rieman, 2001, p. 41). Trebach (1988) noted that “after seven years
of a multi- billion dollar drug war, our prisons are filled to record levels, violent drug

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traffickers pollute our cities, and drug abuse is rampant. …while some of our children
now find it more difficult to buy marijuana, many find it much easier to buy crack and
cocaine’’ (Trebach, 1988, p. 2; Rieman, 2001, p.41)
Susan S. Sherman, Sabrina Plitt, Salman ul. Hassan, Yingkai and S.Tariq Zafar in
their descriptive study of drug use, street survival, and risk behavior among street
children in Lahore, Pakistan claim that drug use is a major coping mechanism among
street children in Lahore, Pakistan and an estimate of 3,500 – 5,000 street children live on
the street of Lahore, Pakistan. The study utilized secondary data originally collected by
Project Smile, a nonprofit organization sponsored by Nai Zindagi. Project Smile was
established in August 2003 to provide mobile social and medical services to street
children 6 days a week in targeted areas throughout Lahore where street children gather.
The study utilized a large sample size of 347 participants. And the data were collected
from participants when children registered to use any of Project Smile’s services a nongovernmental organization registration data.
According to the 2002 United Nations Development Program report on Nigeria,
describes the impact of the street children (area boys) as:
While other Nigerian cities might have their own hoodlums, there is nothing as
brazen or ubiquitous as the area boys of Lagos. The coercive and persuasive
requests, pretty crimes and sometimes – violent offenses by the area boys to acquire
resources, generally cash in the urban main business and crowded areas, has
disturbed the civil society and defied the civil authority. Among the area boys are
both sellers and users of drugs. Drug abuse among them has been variously reported
as the cause of delinquent behavior and crime (United Nations, 2002, p.19).

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Child Abuse
A number of researchers have suggested that there is a strong relationship
between juvenile offending among street children especially teenage girls and various
forms of child abuse- sexual, physical and emotional. Countless boys and girls are drawn
into streets for economic and psychological reasons. Some are either coerced and
victimized by pimps, for sexual needs, desires, or adventure, and because of drug
addiction, while some others have been victims of incest, rape, beatings, neglect, and
other domestic violence and related problems (Flowers, 2001). According to Flowers
(2001), many of these teens that end up in the streets are run-away from sexually,
physically, or mentally abusive homes and situations.
Browne and Falshaw (1995) claim that many incidences of running away from
home and residential care involve issues around violence, bullying and child abuse. In a
survey conducted to examine the relationship between street children and juvenile
offending in the United Kingdom, Browne and Falshaw (1995) estimated that between 14
and 20% of children run away from home for at least once and 2% run away 10 times or
more from home. They declared that in the United States, it is estimated that one out of
every eight adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 run away at least once from home.
In their analysis, they also claimed that three quarters of adolescents who run away from
home are attempting to escape and retreat from family conflicts and violence; and that
one in two runaway children resort to prostitution, stealing, drug dealing or other crime to
support themselves on the street. It is remarkable to find in their study that males in
Birmingham were more reluctant to engage in work than female, although the success of
engaging street children under 16 years of age in work was a little better and that the vast

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majority of sex offenders are male and their sex offending begins as a teenager, yet most
of the men convicted are adults over 30 years of age and 59% have been victims of sex
abuse themselves during childhood (Browne & Falshaw, 1995; Elliot, Browne &
Kilcoyne, 1995 ). They also added that one third of child sex offenders committed their
first offense under the age of 16 and for half of them their offenses became more serious
with time (Browne & Falshaw, 1995).
Conclusion
This chapter offers a review of existing studies, theories, and literature on street
children as they relate to the body of knowledge consistent with the field of criminology,
criminal justice and juvenile justice. Evidence abound from a wide range of literature and
studies in the multi-disciplinary fields of criminology, criminal justice and juvenile
justice that suggest that juvenile offending is a socio-legal concept, which is determined
mainly (but not limited to) by sociological elements. Specifically, the study in this
chapter reviewed literature and studies relevant to sociological theories such as social
disorganization, anomie, strains and social learning theories. The works of scholars
specific to the phenomenon of street children in recent times were also examined.
This study believes that this review is relevant to the understanding and indeed
consistent with the assumption of social structural positivism that emphasizes that human
behavior is determined by the social and economic conditions of life, including but not
limited to poverty, alienation, social disorganization, weak social controls, personal
frustration, relative deprivation, differential opportunities, alternative means to success,
and deviant subcultures and subcultural values that conflict with conventional values or

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institutions of society that affect the social and physical environment of which human
beings are a part of (Kubrin et. al., 2009; Schmalleger, 2011)

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Chapter 3
Method
This chapter describes the research design of the study. It is often obvious that the
development of the research designs in the research process is of utmost importance.
They are like the bones which structure or give form to the body of an organism. As
Schmalleger (2012) observed, research designs provide a kind of road map to the logic or
reason inherent in a researcher’s approach to a research problem. Moreover, they serve as
guides to the systematic collection of data. Specifically, this chapter describes the
participants, the measures, choice of data collections, how the research was conducted,
and discusses the selection of methods of analysis.
Thus, this design reflects an effort to address scientific shortcomings of previous
studies of street children, such as a lack of definitional clarity, sampling limitations, and
methodological challenges involving data collection from the street children themselves
(Hutz & Koller, 1999). The manner in which social scientists study street children has
shaped the perception of the phenomenon. Hutz and Koller (1999) for example observed
that the study of street children presents researchers with challenges and difficulties that
can hardly be described. They asserted that in most cases researchers typically do not take
time to explain or establish the reliability of the procedures used to define a child as
belonging to any given category. Categorizing children on, or of, the streets, for example
can be challenging. Moreover, researchers often fail to differentiate street children on the
street from those who still have ties or some form of contact with a kin (Hutz & Koller,
1999).

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Delimitation of the Study
This section of the study states categorically the scope or the boundaries to which
the study was confined. The delimitation of a study expresses the characteristics that limit
the scope or defines its boundaries. Street children belong to a special category of
children. Moreover, there are several types of street children in the world today, and
studying them could be very problematic (United Nations, 2002). A good study must be
clear, unambiguous, and should include proper scope. Delimitation was crucial in this
study because it provided the perimeter on which the study could be evaluated.
The present study was descriptive. A descriptive study is one in which the primary
purpose is to describe the scope of the crime problem and policy responses to the
problem. In descriptive research, the researcher observes and then details what he or she
has observed. The study described the relationship between the social demographic
characteristics (such as gender, age, parental demographics, etc.) of street children as the
independent variables and juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria as the
dependent variable with a view of producing a identifying the typical street child in
Nigeria utilizing both the quantitative and qualitative methods. The scope of the
quantitative portion of this study was delimited to the descriptive and inferential analysis
of the secondary data originally collected by a juvenile detention and reformation center
in Nigeria using SPSS software. The data formed part of the official registration records
of children admitted into the youth center between the period of 2003 and 2005.
Consequently, the research method process, which includes data gathering, data analysis,
findings and conclusions have been delimited to only children between the ages of 10 and
17 years. Invariably, children under the age of 10 and above 17 were excluded from this
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study. The reason for such exclusion of these categories of children was dictated by the
fact that children in these categories in most countries cannot be processed through the
juvenile justice system. In Nigeria, juvenile laws are patterned after the English common
law. Under the English common law for example, children under the age of seven could
never be held legally accountable for crimes (Blackstone, 1979). Blackstone (1979)
explained that youths below seven years are conclusively believed to be incapable of
criminal offenses because it was presumed that they could not distinguish between what
is right from what is wrong. Therefore they could not develop the major element of
crime – mens rea or the guilty mind. Put in a simpler way, youths below seven could not
develop criminal intent. Youths over 14 were presumed to have the capacity of criminal
intent and therefore could be guilty of a felony. Youths in childhood (between 7 and 14),
according to Blackstone, presented a special category. They could still be considered to
lack the capacity of mens rea except if the state could prove that the youths have
developed the capacity of doing ill (Blackstone, 1979).
Specific to Nigeria, the Child and Young Persons Act of Nigeria defines a "child"
as a person under the age of 14 while a "young person" is a person who has attained the
age of 14 and is under the age of 17 years (Criminal Code Law of Nigeria, 1962).The fact
that a juvenile offender is a person under 17 years of age does not imply that all those
under 17 are not criminally responsible. By Section 30 of the Criminal Code Law of
Nigeria, a child below the age of seven years is assumed not criminally responsible for
any act or omission. A child under the age of 10 years is not criminally responsible for an
act or omission, unless it is proved that at the time of the act or omission he or she had

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the capacity to know that the act or omission should not have been allowed by the law
(Criminal Code Law of Nigeria, 1962)
Research Design
The study adopted the data triangulation technique with a multi – phase
sequential mixed method of data collection and interpretation approach (Sieber, 1973).
This means that the researcher utilized approaches associated with both qualitative and
quantitative methods – a kind of multiple methods approach. In the multi-phase
sequential mixed method approach, the researcher obtains statistical, quantitative results
from a sample and then follows the results up with qualitative observations of a few
individuals to probe or explore those results in more depth (Creswell, 2003). In this way,
researcher is not only assigning numerical values to concepts, he will be equally viewing
concepts as sensitizing ideas that could enhance the understanding of the phenomenon
under study. In this regard, data for the study were collected through multiple sources
which included the use of primary data (personal casual observation of a market place
and some streets in Nigeria) and secondary data (numeric statistical information collected
from a youth detention and reformation center in Nigeria).
Tesksbury and Mustaine (2004) argued that although scholars in the social and
behavioral sciences as well as the public tend to give more respect and attention to
studies conducted using quantitative methods, conclusions based on quantitative or
qualitative values or analysis can be substantially enriched when the two methods are
used in conjunction with one another (Maxwell & Babbie, 2001; Murphy &
O’Leary1994; Tarrow, 1995; Tesksbury & Mustaine, 2004). Berger (1963) explained that
“Things are not what they seem. This is a deceptively simple statement. It ceases to be
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simple after a while. Social reality turns out to have many layers of meaning. The
discovery of each new layer changes the perception of the whole” (p. 3). Consequently,
researchers should study phenomena by examining them from various perspectives.
The use of data triangulation in this study was necessitated by the idea that, when
researchers use multiple lines of actions in their studies, they are usually not only able to
improve their final result, they are able to increase the validity of their research projects
by demonstrating that similar conclusions could be obtained when diverse lines of actions
are taken (Ireland, Burg, & Mutchnick, 2010). In the words of Ireland et al. (2010),
“Findings that are largely bound to a single method may be difficult to accept and not
taken very seriously. While it is unlikely that multiple lines of action will result in
identical findings, multiple lines of actions offer sufficient overlap and similarity to
making the finding quite convincing’’ (p.126).
Hagan (2010) on the other hand, explained that the use of multiple methods
(interview, questionnaire, experiment, observation) to measure the same phenomenon is
also referred to as triangulation. Hagan (2010) further emphasized that triangulation
assumes that it is relatively hopeless to attempt to demonstrate the validity or reliability
of one measurement using only one method. The use of multiple methods enables the
introduction of methods used as a variable or rival causal factor. If there is no difference
in findings despite the use of different methods, then any one method, for example,
experimenter or interviewer effects, could not be responsible for producing the findings
(Hagan, 2010, p. 244). Hutz and Roller (1999) explained that survey research with street
children has generated a body of data that show consistencies across research setting and

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there is evidence that in multi-method studies, triangulation reveals that survey data are
often consistent with data obtained with other methods.
The advantages of the data triangulation techniques over the single method of data
collection cannot be over-emphasized and such advantages are two-fold: (1) the data
triangulated study includes the collection, use and analysis of soft data (measures that can
accurately capture the essence of the concept using words, impressions, photographs and
images, etc.) and hard data that comes in the form of numbers and that can quantify
concepts, and. (2) The data triangulation techniques also allow the researcher to use both
inductive and deductive approaches. Consistent with the one of UNICEF’s studies of
2002, this study utilized primary and secondary data.
Quantitative Data
Not much work has been done in the area of literature and empirical studies to
understand the lives of street children and their involvement on juvenile offending in
Nigeria. Official statistical data on juvenile offending in Nigeria is also unavailable. In
the first phase of the intended study, the researcher examined the relationship between
demographic and social characteristics (such as gender, age, parental demographics, of
street children) and their juvenile offending using the secondary data collected at a
juvenile detention and reformation center in Benin City, Nigeria. The data formed part of
the official registration records of children admitted into the youth center between 2003
and 2005. The Youth Detention and Reformation Center was established by an Act of
Parliament of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria in 1962 as a co-ed juvenile facility
designed to cater to juveniles between the ages of 10 and 16 in need of care and
protection. The usual residents of the center include orphans, abandoned children,
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runaways and street children; children in conflict with the law such as delinquents –
armed robbers, rapists, and burglars; stubborn and incorrigible children.
The official registration records contain information that could be approximated
to that obtained at a juvenile intake in the United States. Typically, when a juvenile is
admitted into the detention and reformatory center, a set of standard questionnaires that
would reveal his or her demographic identity and other social concerns are administered
to him or her in the presence of his or her guardian or the center’s counselor.
The study utilized a sample size of about 300 residents’ records on file at the
youth detention and reformation center. Each of the 300 cases sampled in the study was
purposively selected from the poll of records in the data set to represent the delinquent
and non delinquent street children residents at the juvenile detention and reformation
center in Benin City, Nigeria. Utilizing these data, the study examined the demographic
characteristics and level of juvenile offending among street children. Only secondary data
on these children were in the first phase of the study.
Glueck and Glueck (1950) remarked that comparison is the fundamental method
of science, and the true value of any phenomenon disclosed by exploration of human
behavior cannot be reliably determined without comparing its incidence in an
experimental group with that in control group. According to them, the method of
comparison should result not only in isolating the factors which most markedly
differentiate offending from non-offending but in casting light on the casual efficacy on a
number of factors generally accepted as criminogenic. Matching demographics such as
age is fundamental in the sense that it is often asserted that tendencies to maladjustment
and misbehavior vary with age (especially puberty and adolescence).
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Codification of Variables: The outcome variable in the study was juvenile offending
among street children in Nigeria and the predictor variables included the demographic
and social characteristics (such as gender, age, tribe, parental demographics) of the
juvenile offenders among street children as the independent variables. The data
(qualitative and quantitative) in the study were coded in numerical form so that they were
easily accommodated and analyzed statistically using the Statistical Package for the
Social Sciences (SPSS. 20). Demographic variables such as gender, living in the street (at
home with parents or on the street, etc.) were dichotomized and treated as nominal
variables. For example, the predictive variable gender is a categorical variable which was
dichotomized into nominal variables: male and female. The male variable of the
predictive variable gender was coded as “0’’, while the female variable will be coded as
“1’’.
In the study, in order to effectively predict the effect of family structure on
juvenile offending among street children, the predictor variable, “family structure’’ using
logistic regression, was dichotomized into “living at home with parents or relative’’ and
“living in the street’’. The variable was dichotomized and coded as follows: 0 for living
in the street and “1’’ for “living at home with parents or relative’’. The reason for this
type of arrangement was simple – to examine the effect family living arrangement,
support and control have on the children. Glueck and Glueck (1950) had contended that
family process variables such as family disruption, economic dependency, and poverty
have been used to explain structural factors that could affect family social control
mechanisms and supervisory function of parents over their children.

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Quantitative Data Analysis
While utilizing the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), the
quantitative research effort was directed by conducting a descriptive analysis of the
secondary data collected at a juvenile detention and reformation center in Nigeria
informing the demographic characteristics of the street children and non-street children.
Efforts were made to examine the relationship between the various demographic
variables and juvenile offending in Nigeria using both descriptive and inferential
statistical analyses.
Descriptive Statistical Analysis
Descriptive statistics involves the statistical computations of data that describe the
numerical or pictorial characteristics of a sample or the relationships that exist among
variables in a sample. They are essentially used to describe either the characteristics of a
sample or the relationship among variables in a sample. These include procedures that
help researchers or scholars organize and describe data collected from either a sample or
a population. To be more precise, descriptive statistical techniques such as frequency
distributions, percentage distributions, ratios and rates were used in this study to describe,
summarize and highlight the relationships within the data that were congregated. The use
of these descriptive statistical tools became necessary for this study because it helped in
describing, organizing and grouping collected data into each category of the variables
being analyzed; and with each category showing the number of observations. To think of
it, these statistical tools were also used to describe the demographic characteristics of an
elusive and non visible group such as street children with the view of describing and
identifying the typical juvenile offender among street children in Nigeria. This is
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consistent with a series of studies published by the U.S. Census Bureau in which
descriptive statistical techniques were used to describe the characteristics and experiences
of Native Americans, Latinos, and the elderly Americans (Frankfort-Nachmias & LeonGuerrero, 2006).
Also employed in this study were the measures of central tendencies – mode,
median and the mean – to depict the similarity and commonalities that existed among the
various predictive variables used to describe the outcome variable. Measures of central
tendencies are numbers that describes what is average, central, typical or representative
of a distribution (Frankfort-Nachmias & Leon-Guerrero, 2006). Typically, when
quantitative data-analysis strategies are employed in a study, the data are usually ordinal,
interval and ratio variables but this does not exclude nominal variables that are usually
associated with qualitative data-analysis strategies (Ireland, Burg, & Mutchnick, 2010).
The mode of central tendency, for example, which is essentially defined as the category
or score with the highest frequency in a distribution is commonly used to describe
nominal variables. It was used in this study to determine the most common categories in
predictive nominal variables such as gender, religious affiliations and living arrangement
of the juvenile offenders among street children in Nigeria.
The median which is essentially the score that divides the distribution into two
equal parts, so that half the cases are above it and the other half are below it, was used for
those variables whose categories or scores were arranged in such a way as to reflect the
order of magnitude from the lowest to the highest (ordinal variables), e.g., in reference to
the level of educational achievement and age. This kind of arrangement is consistent with
Frankfort-Nachmias and Leon-Guerrero’s (2006) declaration in their book “Social
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Statistics for a Diverse Society” that the median as a measure of central tendency can be
used with ordinal or interval-ratio variables, for scores which can be at least rankordered, but cannot be calculated for variables measured at the nominal level (FrankfortNachmias & Leon-Guerrero, 2006). The mean, on the other hand, which is popularly
known as the arithmetic average, is obtained by adding up all the scores in a distribution
and dividing by the total number of scores in the distribution. Frankfort-Nachmias and
Leon-Guerrero (2006) noted that crime statistics are often analyzed using the mean; and
the mean is typically used to describe central tendency in interval-ratio variables such as
income, age, and education. In this study, the mean was also used to calculate the
arithmetic average in the ages and level of education of the juvenile offenders among
street children in Nigeria. The measures of variation – variance and standard deviation were employed in this study to describe how much variation or disparities there were in
the distribution or among the various predictive variables.
Constructing a frequency distribution is usually the first basic step a researcher
takes in the statistical analysis of data (Frankfort-Nachmias & Leon-Guerrero, 2006).
Frankfort-Nachmias and Leon-Guerrero (2006) noted that “the most basic method for
organizing data is to classify the observations into a frequency distribution – a table that
reports the number of observations that falls into each category of the variable being
analyzed’’ (p.51). Obtaining a frequency distribution for nominal and ordinal level
variables is simple and straightforward. It involves simply counting and reporting the
number of cases or frequencies of occurrence that fall into each category of the variable
along with the total number of cases. Obtaining a frequency distribution for interval-ratio
variables on the other hand is more complex to read because they have a wide range of
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values, so obtaining a frequency distribution for such variables involves reducing large
number of different scores into smaller number of groups called class intervals, with each
containing a range of scores. The study also used correlation matrix and logistic
regression in its analysis
Inferential Statistics
Inferential statistics, on the other hand, involves the body of statistical
computation relevant to making inferences or predictions about a larger population on the
basis of observations and analyses of a sample. Inferential statistics deal with the
differences between phenomena or classes. They are usually based on probabilities
derived from sampling distribution. Frankfort-Nachmias and Leon-Guerrero (2006)
defines inferential statistics as the logic and procedures concerned with the making of
predictions or inferences about a population from the observation and analysis of a
sample. In the words of Field (2009), “They tell us to confirm or reject our prediction”
(Field, 2009, p.49)
Pearson’s Correlation Matrix
This study also ran a Pearson’s correlation matrix with a one tailed test of
significance in order to ascertain the direction and strength of the relationship existing
between the outcome variable and the predictor variables and, more specifically, whether
there are significant relationships between the variables using the p value against the
alpha. Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r) by the way is a standardized measure of
association for interval-ratio variables, reflecting the strength and direction of the linear
association between two interval-ratio variables. Measure of association, on the other
hand, estimates strength of association by providing a number between zero and one,
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with zero meaning that there is no relationship between the outcome variable and the
predictor variables; and one meaning that a perfect relationship or association exists
between the variables. Notable scholars have stated that it is almost unlikely to get a
perfect 1.0 or zero estimate because of sampling and measurement error. A correlation
coefficient of -0.75, for example, demonstrates a stronger association or relationship
between interval ratio variables than 0.05 (Frankfort-Nachmias & Leon-Guerrero, 2006;
Field, 2009; Williams, 2009).
Typically, there are two types of correlation: bivariate and partial correlation. The
bivariate correlation is a correlation between variables while the partial correlation
examines the relationship between two variables while controlling the effect of one or
more additional variables (Field, 2009). In this study, while utilizing SPSS, a bivariate
correlation with a one-tailed test of significance and the Pearson’s product-moment
correlation statistics setting was conducted to examine the relationship between the
outcome variable (juvenile offending among street children) and by individual and
separate predictor’s variables (family structure, living arrangement, religious affiliation,
level of education, sexual and physical abuse). The choice of bivariate correlation using
the one tailed test of significance over a two –tailed test is that the testing questions of
this study are directional. A two-tailed test is normally used when the researcher does not
know or cannot predict the nature of the relationship between the variables. The
Pearson’s product-moment correlation statistics setting, on the other hand, was chosen
over the other two types of correlation statistics (Spearman’s correlation and Kendall’s
correlation) because that Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient is a
parametric statistic which means that it can easily be used with a sample interval-ratio
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data that are normally distributed and have homogeneity of variance and independence.
The other two statistics (Spearman’s correlation and Kendall’s correlation) are nonparametric. Non-parametric statistic can only be used when the data have violated
parametric assumptions such as non-normal distribution data (Field, 2009).
“For the sake of an easy life’’ (Field, 2009, p.7), let’s try this. Burns and Burns
(2008) define correlation as the degree of correspondence between variables. It must be
noted, though, that correlation does not indicate causation (that one variable is the cause
and the other variable is the effect); it only implies that the relationship is substantial or
non-trivial. In the words of Burns and Burns (2008), “We play safe. We merely say that
we have discovered that two things are systematically connected. Now, it may be that one
thing is a cause of another but correlation does not delve that far down on its own”
(Burns & Burns, 2008; p. 342). Typically, a correlation measures the direction, strength
and the significant value existing between an outcome variable and predictor variable in a
bivariate relationship. Field (2009) explained that the easiest way to find out if an
outcome variable and a predictor variable are related or associated is to look at whether
they covary. He emphasized that an outcome variable and the predictor variable could be
correlated in three ways: 1) the two variables could be positively related or correlated.
This means that the outcome variable and the predictor variable vary in the same
direction. Invariably, this could also mean that an increase in one variable correspond
with an increase in another variable (Burns & Burns, 2008), e.g., as the level of social
disorganization increases so does juvenile offending among street children. 2) The two
variables are not related at all; this is also known as a zero or random correlation, and 3)
the two variables could be negatively related, meaning that the outcome variable and the
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predictor variable vary in the opposite directions. A negative or inverse correlation exists
when one variable increases as the other variable decreases.
Field (2009) explained that, to report a correlation coefficient, five things are very
paramount to note: 1) there should be no zero before the decimal point for the correlation
coefficient or the probability value because neither should exceed 1; 2) coefficients are
reported to 2 decimal places; 3) if you are quoting a one-tailed probability, you should
state so; 4) each correlation coefficient is represented by a different letter; and 5) there are
standard criteria that scholars use (.05, .01, and .001).
It is also important to note that, since the outcome variable (juvenile offending
among street children) and the predictor variables are discrete variables, a point-biserial
correlation coefficient, rather than the bi-serial correlation coefficient, was employed.
Although both correlation coefficients are normally used when one of the two variables in
the correlation is dichotomous, that means that at least one of the variables is categorical
with only two categories (e.g., a juvenile is either offending or not offending). It cannot
be both; (Field, 2009). The choice of the point-biserial correlation coefficient was
necessitated in this study by the fact that most of the variables are dichotomous-discrete
variables. They are not dichotomous – continuous variables. Consequently, in order to
accommodate both the outcome variable and the individual predictor variable in pointbiserial correlation coefficient in SPSS, the outcome variable for example was
dichotomized and coded with 0 for non-juvenile offending and 1 for juvenile offending
To measure the Pearson correlation coefficient using the SPSS, the study simply
followed the operational directions in Field’s (2005) by selecting the Pearson option
under the Correlation Coefficients, and since the testing questions of this study are
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directional (hence the choice of bivariate correlation in the first place), and to make sure
that the output displayed the One-tailed significance value (as recommended), the
researcher chose the One tailed test of significance over a Two–tailed test by clicking on
the One tailed option under the Test of Significance section. Finally, the OK option was
clicked to run the analysis.
Binary Regression Model
Most importantly, still utilizing SPSS, a binary logistic regression was also
conducted to provide for the prediction of the probability of occurrence and odds of
occurrence of events by fitting the available data to a logistic curve. Logistic regression is
a form of multiple regression with an outcome variable that is a categorical variable and
predictor variables that are either categorical or continuous (Field, 2009). Logistic
regression predicts the presence or absence of an outcome or characteristics based on
values of a set of predictor variables. When a researcher is trying to predict membership
of only two categorical outcomes, the analysis is called binary logistic regression; but
when the researcher is trying to predict membership of more than two categories, the
analysis is known as multinomial or polychotomous logistic regression (Field, 2009).
The choice to use binary logistic regression was dictated by the fact that he study
utilized several predictor variables that may be numerical, dichotomous, categorical or
continuous, such as gender, age, level of education, family structure, religious affiliation,
and an outcome variable that is dichotomous and categorical such as juvenile offending.
Secondly, logistic regression provided the much needed knowledge about the relationship
and strength existing among the various variables analyzed in this study. Since binary
logistic regression is an extension of normal regression, it shares some of the assumptions
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of normal regression, including that of 1) linearity: In normal regression, it is traditionally
assumed that the outcome variables must have a linear relationship with the predictor
variables. Essentially, for a linear or normal regression model to be considered valid, the
observed data should contain linear relationship (Berry, 1993; Field, 2009). A linear
relationship allows the researcher to approximate the observations of the relationship
between two interval-ratio variables displayed in a scatter diagram with a straight line. In
a perfect linear relationship which is sometimes referred to as deterministic relationship,
for example, “all the observations (the dots) fall along a straight line; and the line itself
provide the predictive value of Y (the vertical axis) for any value of X (the horizontal
axis)” (Frankfort-Nachmias & Leon-Guerrero, 2006, p. 266). Typically, logistic
regression does not assume that there is linear relationship between the outcome and the
predictor variables as in the case of normal or linear regression. The reason is simple. In
logistic regression, the outcome variable is categorical which violates the assumption of
linearity in normal or linear regression. But when such things happen, it is not worth
having sleepless nights over. Berry and Feldman explained that one way around the
violation of the assumption of linearity in linear regression is to transform the data using
the logarithmic transformation (Berry & Feldman, 1985; Field, 2009). Moreover, logistic
regression does not require that the independent variables must be interval-ratio variables,
neither does it require that they must be normally distributed or linearly related. “The
assumption of linearity in logistic regression therefore assumes that there is a linear
relationship between any continuous predictor variables and the logit of the outcome
variable. 2) Independence of error: This assumption indicates that the cases of the data
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dispersion. 3) The dependent variable must be a dichotomy and the categories must be
mutually exclusive and exhaustive. 4) Multicollinearity: In any case, predictor variables
should not be too highly correlated. This could result in multicollinearity.
To conduct the binary logistic regression in SPSS, the study first entered and
arranged all the data in the “Data Editor” and then, selected “Analyze” in the main dialog
box. The next step was to click on “Regression dialog box” to select “Binary Logistic”. In
the binary logistic regression dialog box, there was a space for outcome variable labeled
“Dependent box” and another space for the predictor variables titled “Covariates Box”.
So, from the binary logistic dialog box, the outcome variable, Juvenile Offending was
dragged to the “Dependent box”, while the predictor variables –Gender, Family
Structure, Religious Affiliation, Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Age, Living
Arrangement, and Level of Education were all dragged into the “Covariates Box”. The
next step was to click on the option “Categorical” in order to separate the categorical
predictor variables from the continuous predictor variables. When the option
“Categorical” was click on, two boxes opened up. The categorical predictor variables
were selected into the “Categorical Covariate Box”, while the rest variables were selected
into the “Covariate Box”. Then, the option “OK” was click on to run the regression.
Using the relationship between the predictor variable “Family Structure” and the
output variable as an example, the study explains how the binary logistic regression was
analyzed as follows. “For the sake of an easy life” (Field, 2009; p. 7), the categorical
predictor variable, Family Structure was dichotomized into nominal variables: “No
Parent Family Structure” and “Two Parent Family Structure”. The “No Parent Family
Structure” variable of the predictive variable Family Structure was coded as “0’’, while
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the “Two Parent Family Structure” variable was coded as “1’’. In its simplest form, what
this meant was that the researcher was able to predict which juvenile of the two
categories of Family Structure is more likely to engage in juvenile offending. It is
imperative to state here that the value of the odd ratio (Exp (B) in the SPSS output), is
very central to the interpretation of logistic regression, for two reasons. First, remember
that, since the Family Structure predictor variable was dichotomized to “No Parent
Family Structure” as 0 and “Two Parent Family Structure” as 1, what the odd ratio tells
us is that as the Family Structure predictor variable changes from the “No Parent Family
Structure” which is “0” to the “Two Parent Family Structure” which is “1”, the chance of
the odds of juvenile offending among street children compared to not offending is
0.71(b= -.343, Wald x2 (1) = 0.32, p> .05); that means that the odds of juvenile offending
among street children compared to not offending is 1/0.71. Moreover, the Exp (B) in the
SPSS output, is the indicator of change in odds resulting from a unit change in the
predictor variable. The odd ratio is usually easier (like eating a piece of cake) when the
predictor variable is categorical and has been dichotomized. Typically, the odds of an
event occurring are usually explained as the probability of an event occurring divided by
the probability of that event not occurring (Field, 2009). Let us try this.
P (event)
Odds 
P (no event)
1
Then, P (event Y) =
1 + e-(b0 +b1 +x1)
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P (no event Y) = 1 – P (event)
So, in order to calculate the change in odds that resulted from a unit change in the
predictor (which invariable, is one of the ultimate goals of this study) for example,
“family structure”, the study first calculated the odds of becoming a juvenile offender
when the juvenile is from a “No Parent Family Structure” which is represented by “0”;
using the formula:

1
P (Y) =
1 + e-(b0 +b1 +x1)
with b0 representing the coefficient of the constant; b1 the coefficient of the
predictor, and x1 representing the value of the predictor itself. This same calculation was
repeated after the predictor variable has changed by one unit that is the odds of becoming
a juvenile offender when the juvenile offender is from a “Two Parent Family Structure”
which is represented by “1”. To calculate the proportional change in odds which is the
“odds ratio”, the study had to divide the odds after a unit change in the predictor by the
odds before that change.
odds after a unit change in the predictor variable
odds =
odds in the predictor variable before the change

Qualitative Data Collection
The study assumed that juveniles on the street offend because they are strained by
social, economic, and environmental factors. Specifically, the study assumed that
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juveniles on the street offend because they differentially learn unconventional behavior
on the street in close association with their peers, especially those who provide them with
the support, assurance, direction and protections that society’s social institutions could
not provide for them. In other words, delinquent street children cause law abiding
children that gravitate to the street to get in trouble
Consequently, the study examined some risk factors that are clearly predictors of
delinquency by conducting the second phase of the multi-phase sequential triangulation
data collection and analysis, utilizing the qualitative casual observational data collection
and analysis technique. Typically, in a multi-phase sequential triangulation data collection
and analysis, the researcher obtains statistical, quantitative results from a sample and then
follows the results up with qualitative observations of a few individuals to probe or
explore those results in more depth (Creswell, 2003). Two heads, they say are better and
stronger than one if the two act as one. Elaborating on the relevance of a multi-phase
sequential triangulation data collection and analysis is to approximate it to the assertion
of the legendary Coach K when he made an analogy with the concept of the “fist’’.
I like to think of each separate finger on a fist. Any one finger is important. But all of
them together are unbeatable. … Some hands have small fingers that can easily come
together as fist. Others hands have very large fingers but, if they never come together
as fist, they probably won’t be as powerful as the smaller hand that does
(Krzyzewski & Phillips, 2000: p 87)
In this study, the casual observational data collection technique was adopted for
two reasons: First, the researcher was able to use the qualitative casual observations of
the street children in the market to probe further, elaborate on, extend and confirm the
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quantitative results in the first stage of this study. Second, the relevance of an
observational study cannot be overemphasized. An observational study provided the
researcher a firsthand experience with the participants (Creswell, 2003). Apart from the
fact that through casual observation the researcher was be able to gain an insight into
unusual aspects of street life and how newcomers are received, initiated and socialized
into the street life subculture, the researcher also used this method to gain a better
understanding of the impact of gangs on helpless street children.
As Hutz and Koller (1999) observed that it is difficult to collect structured data
from street children. Street children are usually found in groups, and interviewing them
individually is a challenge (Hutz & Koller, 1999). Hutz and Koller (1999) added that
researchers who conduct their research in street settings must compete with a number of
distractions. Street children do not usually talk to adults about themselves. Hence, the
need for any researcher interested in doing any study of such an elusive and indefinable
group of people such as the street children to do an observational study
An advantage of using the casual observational technique in studying
marginalized and disadvantaged population like street children or gang-like structures is
that the researcher can observe the subjects in their natural environment. Karp (1973)
agrees that a close and careful observation could allow the researcher to discover
important aspects of the behavior of the subjects and the social structure of the setting
(Karp, 1973). The renowned scholars, Sutherland and Cressey (1970) argued that “Those
who have had intimate contact with criminals in the open know that criminals are not
natural in the police stations, courts, and prisons, and that they must be studied in their
everyday life outside of institutions if they are to be understood” (p.68)
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The casual observational data collection technique involved the use of personal
observation of street children and their activities in one of the major Market places and
some adjoining streets in Benin City, Nigeria where street children live, eat, sleep, and
interact with each other during the day and at night for the period of five days and nights
by the researcher, initially pretending to be a new comer to street life. During this
process, the researcher made casual observation of street children and some ex- street
children (now adults, like the Area Boys) that are still living on the street.
The choice of the particular market observed was dictated by the fact it is one of
the most popular and well attended markets in Nigeria. It is situated along a major road
centrally located in the ancient city of Benin, an organic solidarity city with a population
of over 1.2 million people. The main reason the researcher was able to conduct this casual
observational study in the market place was because of his close association with Mr.
Osagie Eboigbe, an ex-street child who now has a retail commissary store inside the
market in Benin City, Nigeria and lives in a rented apartment with his family close to the
market. The researcher finds this person’s experience and contribution to the intended
study immeasurable. He had lived on the street as a child. Since leaving the street, he still
lives among street children in the market place. Although Eboigbe did not provide the
researcher with personal information, he made a portion of his store available to the
researcher from where the researcher was able to observe the children. Moreover, the
market place is close to the researcher’s family residence in Benin City where he served a
Director in charge of programs for a state owned juvenile detention center for a period of
over 10 years. The researcher had interacted greatly with numerous street children in the

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past and has enormous love for children. Hence, the researcher’s interest in the study of
juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria.
As a personal observer, the researcher utilize field log (notebook; journal) where a
detailed step by step account of the researcher’s observations, events, feelings,
perceptions, experiences and the amount of time spent at night with the street children
throughout the research process was recorded. Specifically, in field notes, the researcher
recorded what he knew about street children before the observation, what he observed in
the market place and the adjoining neighborhoods, and what the taught he observed in the
market place and the adjoining street. In short, the researcher utilized two separate field
notebooks: the first note was the descriptive notebook, where the daily observations and
particular activities or events were comprehensively described and recorded.
Observations of the various physical settings and persons were also recorded in the
descriptive notebook. On the other hand, the second field notebook which was the
reflective notebook was used by the researcher to record his personal thoughts, feelings,
ideas, hunches, impressions, speculations and problems (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992;
Creswell, 2003). With the use of the two separate field notebooks, the researcher was able
to separate actual (real) observations from perceived (seeming) observations. These notes
were taken in stages. In the first stage, the notes were brief, sketchy and taken
unobtrusively during observation: brief and sketchy because the researcher wanted to
keep abreast with what was happening or with the observations; unobtrusively, because
“people are likely to behave differently if they see you writing down everything they say
or do” (Maxwell & Babbie, 2012, p. 203). It is usually a good idea to take down notes
during observation. In an observational study, the relevance of taking notes during the
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observations cannot be played down. According to the researcher, the sketchy notes taken
during observations enabled him to recall most of the details of observations later. The
second stage involved writing the notes in a more detailed or comprehensive form later.
The observational study of the public place where street children live, eat, sleep and work
was conducted in Nigeria.
Human Subject Protection
In a recent telephone discussion with the director (general administration) of the
youth and reformatory center in Nigeria where the secondary was collected, the
researcher assured the director that the name of the center, participants and staff would
not be mentioned in the study, and that the use of data would be restricted to this study. A
letter from the center specifically noted that
The admission register is a private and strictly confidential document. So the
information contained in it must be held in strict confidence. As you have requested, the
information contained in it must only be used for research purposes. Under no
circumstance should the name and address of the centre and the names of the children be
mentioned in the research, any other document or released to a third party
As agreed, the data will be well guarded and held in strict confidence. Prairie
View A&M. University’s Institutional Review Board requirements dictate that secondary
data used in a study should be discarded after seven years. This requirement will be
strictly adhered to. The study was approved by the Prairie View A&M University
Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Street children are special children, belonging to a special category, different from
conventional children; and that by the nature of the situation that they have found
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themselves have emancipated themselves into adulthood. Street children are children who
are no longer living at home with their parents or guardians; and in most cases, are
orphans. They are in charge and control of their lives. They are not answerable to anyone.
As such, they may be interviewed without having to solicit permission from any parent or
guardian. Satz (2005) noted that in some African countries, 10 year old children are
usually not treated or bundled together as minors or into the status of a child as they are
considered in most industrial countries. They could be eligible for marriage and not
required to make to make decisions independently of their parents. As they claimed,
different counties invoke different age thresholds of adulthood, voting, employment and
even military (Satz, 2003). That notwithstanding, the researcher vehemently resolves that
because of some unforeseen ethical concerns now or in the further that might emanate
from the casual conversation that may occur with some ex-street children during the
observational study and the refusal of the Prairie View A&M University Institutional
Review Board (IRB) to grant approval for the study if any contact what so ever is made
with street children, the researcher resolved only to conduct casual observational study
without any form of contact with street children. Although, in the social sciences,
researchers conducting observational study of behavior of adolescents in public places
such as the mall or market places, may not need consent to observe public behavior, the
permission to conduct the casual observational study in the market place was given by
“His Excellency’’Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, The Executive Governor of Edo State,
Nigeria.
The ethical issue of privacy is concerned with the intrusiveness of research
(Hagan, 2012). Section 8 of the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003 and consistent with
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the United Nations Child Rights Act of 1989 indicate that every child is entitled to his
right to privacy, family life, home, correspondence, telephone conversation, and
telegraphic conversation (Nigerian Child Rights Act, 2003). It is usually imperative that
in research where human subjects are involved, the subjects’ right to privacy must be
respected and maintained. They must be informed of their rights, benefits of the study, the
risks that could be involved in their participation of the study and the purpose of the
study. Specifically, their right not to provide information to the researcher and their right
to withhold certain information must be duly respected. They must also be informed that
they are free to withdraw from the casual conversation at any time of their choice without
any form of negative consequences and that their benefits shall not be withdrawn for that
reason or any other reason that has not been explained to them before the commencement
of the study. courtesy demands that subjects should also be informed of the purpose of the
study which has been designed as a partial requirement for a doctoral degree in juvenile
justice at Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, and could be used to make
policy suggestions to government of Nigeria and other countries on how to deal with the
problems of street children; and that that the study has not been designed to bring any
form of harm to them if the study was to involve the use of human subjects. Incidentally,
this study did not involve the direct use of human subject. The study strictly involved the
use of secondary data collected from a youth detention and reformation center in Nigeria
–the data designed and used for a different purpose- and casual observation of a public
place. Moreover, the study restricted its observations to the activities of street children
residing in market places and neighboring streets in Nigeria.

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Limitation of the Study
This study presents several limitations. As it is traditional with most qualitative
studies, scholars are not expected to generalize to a large population on the basis of a few
limited observations and moreover because random sampling technique is not used.
Hagan (2010) insisted that unless selection probability can be estimated, generalizing
statistical inference to a larger population is hazardous. He insisted that it is imperative to
note that without representative sample, sample size is irrelevant (Hagan, 2010).
Consequently, this study did not and cannot be used to generalize to a larger. This could
be remedied in the future by replicating the study by employing larger random samples.
The secondary data that was utilized in the quantitative section of this study have not
been used and cannot be used to generalized to a larger population either, because the
secondary data were obtained from a single youth center in Nigeria and was not collected
over a period of time. Moreover, they were not collected purposely for this study. This
could be remedied in the future by replicating the study by using data primarily collected
over a period of time and for the purpose of the study. Experience has shown that it is
best not to study within one’s native context, lest the findings are usually too subjective.
Hence to check the possible effects, the study was closely monitored by a friend who was
by no way connected to the study.
Another limitation of this study is consistent with interviews and observations:
casual observations are frequently inaccurate; and moreover, people tend to observe
selectively. Most scholars have criticized self-report surveys because participants may not
be entirely accurate, truthful, or understate their participation especially in illegal

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activities. This study did not involve the use of interviews and survey but only casual
observation of a public place
Conclusion
This chapter describes the research design of the study. It is often obvious that the
development of the research designs in the research process is of utmost importance.
They are like the bones which structure or give form to the body of an organism. They
provide a kind of road map to the logic or reason inherent in a researcher’s approach to a
research problem. Specifically, this chapter describes the participants, the measures,
choice of data collections, how the research was conducted, and discusses the selection of
methods of analysis.
The next chapter presents a detailed analysis of both the secondary data collected
from a detention and reformation center in Nigeria and the casual observational study
conducted at a marketplace in Nigeria. A detailed discussion of the findings to the
problems and questions posed on previous chapters was also presented.

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Chapter 4
Results
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between demographic
and social characteristics of street children and juvenile offending in Nigeria.
Specifically, the study examined the relationship between gender, age, level of education
and family structure, religious affiliation, sexual and physical abuse and juvenile
offending among a sample of street children in Nigeria with the view of identifying and
profiling the typical street child. The study began with the following assumptions: that
juveniles on the street offend because they are strained by social, economic, and
environmental factors such as the actual or anticipated removal or loss of positively
valued stimuli, lack of the educational or financial resources necessary to achieve goals in
a materialistic society, or the actual or anticipated presentation of negative stimuli
(Agnew, 2006). The following questions guided this study:
(1) Who is the typical street child that is likely to offend?
(2) Is the street child living in and on the streets in Nigeria more likely to offend
than the street child living with a relative?
3) What social forces seem to push children into the streets and thereby into lives
of crime?
To examine these fundamental questions, the study adopted a data triangulation
technique with a multi – phase sequential mixed method of data collection and
interpretation approach (Sieber, 1973). Data triangulation is a multiple method approach
which herein reflects both qualitative and quantitative methods. This study utilized both
primary and secondary data. In the first phase of the study, the researcher examined the
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relationship between demographic and social characteristics (such as gender, age, family
structure and living arrangement of street children) and their juvenile offending using
secondary data collected at a juvenile detention and reformation center in Nigeria. The
data formed part of the official registration records of children admitted into a youth
center between 2003 and 2005.
In the second phase of the study, the researcher engaged in the personal
observation of the street children and their activities at a market place in Benin City,
Nigeria and some adjoining streets where street children live, eat, sleep, and interact with
each other during the day and at night in other to gain firsthand knowledge about life on
the street. During this process, the researcher observed how street children came from
different places to converge inside the market at night to hold meetings, search for food
and search for places to sleep, and during the day to look for something to do. The data
was analyzed.
Descriptive Statistical Analysis
Research Question 1: Who is the typical street child among street children in Nigeria
likely to offend?
To answer research question 1, descriptive statistics such as frequency
(proportions and percentages), measures of central tendency and variations were done
regarding the demographic characteristics of the street children. The secondary data
formed part of the official registration records of children admitted into the youth center
between 2003 and 2005. The predictors of a street child who is likely to offend include
gender, age, level of education, family structure, socio-economic status, sexual abuse and
physical abuse.

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Gender
In 2005, a study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund Consortium for
Street Children in Mali and Ghana found that in Bamako, the large majority of children
counted were boys, while in Accra, three out of four were girls (UNOHCHR, 2011). In
this study, the juvenile offenders among street children were predominantly male, with
approximately 78% (234 street children out of 300) and 22% (66 street children) were
female.
Consistent with these findings, the study in its casual observation discovered that
majority of the children on the streets, and inside the market place were boys of an
approximate age range of 6 to 18 with the majority being between the ages of 10 to 15.
By the researcher’s estimation, over 80% of the juvenile seen in the market place were
male, while about 20% were female. Most of the females seen inside the market were
hawking cooked food and food items, while a small proportion of the boys were seen
working as bus conductors (Agberos). Street adults of both men and women were also
observed. These categories of street children consist of men and women in their early 20s
and late 30s who more or less play the fatherly and motherly roles for street children of
the street. The street adults can be approximated to the Veteranos or O.G.s closely
associated with the Chicano and the African American gangs in the United States.
Interestingly, these groups of elderly statesmen of the street are responsible for the
socialization and control of younger street children under their care.
These findings are consistent with the conventional findings in many studies,
which include the findings of Aransola, Bamiwuye, Akinyemi and Lanre (2009) in their
study titled “Proliferation of Street Children in Nigeria.’’ Although, Aransola and

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colleagues did not specifically study juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria,
their study found that 83.1% of the street children who participated were male and only
16.9% were female.
Age
This study found a mean age of approximately 13.1 years, the mode age of 14
(with approximate 89 participants out of 300), the standard deviation of 1.65 (see figure
1), and with cumulative percentage between ages 10 and 14 standing at 82.7%, majority
of the participants (approximately 248 participants out of 300) in the study were in the
age group of less than 14 years. This finding is also consistent with the desistance or the
spontaneous remission theory which states that there is the tendency for youth to reduce
the frequency of their offending as they age. As Figure 1 illustrates, juvenile offending
among the participants in this study gradually progressed from age 12 (16%) through age
13 (18.7%) and peaked at age 14 with 29.7%. The study reported a reduction in the
frequency of offending at ages 15 and 16 with only 10% and 7.3% respectively.

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Figure 1: Descriptive Statistics for Independent Variable – Age and Dependent Variable –
Juvenile Offending

Research Question 2: Is the street child living in and on the streets in Nigeria more
likely to offend than the street child living at home with a relative?
The detention center data indicate that 62% (186 out of 300 residents) of street
children lived on the streets while 38% (about 114 out of 300) street children lived at
home with at least a relative. As illustrated on Table 5, The correlation matrix of the
outcome variable, juvenile offending and the predictor variable living arrangement has a
point-biserial coefficient correlation of .018 (r=.018) at a one tailed significant value of .

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005. This relationship was positive (which means that both the outcome variable and the
predictor variable vary in the same direction) and significant. When the point biserial
correlation coefficient of r=.018 was regressed, it provided the coefficient of
determination (R2= (0.018)2) of .0003, which translates into living arrangement
accounting for 3% of the variability in juvenile offending among street children in
Nigeria.
In addition, as shown in Table 5, the binary logistic regression indicates that as
change in odds resulting in a move in a unit change from “Living on the street” which is
represented by “0” to the “Living with parents at home” which is represented by “1”, in
the predictor variable “Living Arrangement” ( Exp (B), the output is .700; and because .
700 is less than 1, each additional unit of the predictor variable living arrangement (B=
-.357) decreases the odds of juvenile offending among street children by a factor of
Exp(B) = .700.
This finding reveals a significant main effect of living arrangement on juvenile
offending among street children. The result of the binary logistic regression indicates that
children living on the streets are more likely to offend than children living with their
parents at home in familiar relationships or as children move from living on the street to
living with their parents at home in familiar relationships, the odds of their offending
decrease by a factor of Exp(B) = .700. Specifically, with the result of the binary
regression analysis at β = -.357 and Exp(B) = .700, the researcher can predict an increase
of approximately 36% probability that a child living on the street would be more likely to
offend than a child living at home with the parents. This result is consistent with the
findings of the casual observation conducted by this study. The findings also show an

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exception to UNICEF’s assertion in its 1986 report on street children, that 40% of the
over 100 to 150 million street children in the world are homeless, while the other 60%
work on the street to support their families.
Research Question 3: What social forces seem to push children into the streets and
thereby into lives of crime?
In order to answer this question, the study employed the mixed method technique,
using both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses. In the quantitative
phase, the data from the juvenile detention were analyzed with logistic regression to
describe the social structural demographic variables such as family structure or living
arrangement of street children, religion, income, educational level of the participants and
other variables for relationship with children leaving home.
In the qualitative phase, a casual observational study was conducted (day and
night for 5 days) at a market place in Benin City, Nigeria, one of the most popular and
highly attended markets in Nigeria. The casual observation study provided the researcher
a unique opportunity to gain insight into various aspects of street life, especially, how
newcomers are received, initiated and socialized into the street life subculture. The
findings are described in terms of family structure, level of education, religious
affiliation, physical and sexual abuse
Family Structure
Table 1 shows the frequency and percentage distribution of the different types of
family structures of street children whose records were used for this study. As illustrated
in Table 1, the records of youth center residents study indicate that 48.7% (146 out of 300
residents) came from the “No parent family home structure”, meaning that they were

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either orphaned or abandoned children. The majority of the children on the street are in
most cases orphans, abandoned children (children orphaned by their parents or
guardians). The risk factor for most orphans is that they are usually deprived of parental
care.
With a mean of .92 and standard deviation of approximately 1.13, 25.7 % of the
residents in the sample claimed that they originally came from the single parent family
structure where only the father was present in the home, while 15.7% indicated that they
came from single family structure where only the mother was present in the home. The
least numbers of residents, with about 5.3% and 4.7% came from the two-parent family
structure and polygamous family structure respectively.
Level of Education and Religious Affiliation
Table 2 shows the frequency and percentage distribution of the level of education
of street children. As the data on the level of educational achievement of street children
whose records were used at youth and reformation center in Nigeria revealed, with the
mean level of education standing at .72 and the standard deviation at .975, approximately
57% (171 street children out of 300) had no formal education, 22.3% (67 street children)
had some form of primary education, 12. 3% had completed primary education, while
only 8.3% had some form of secondary education. In this study, “No formal education”
means that these street children with no formal education had never in their lives up until
the time they were brought to the center attended any kind of recognized school.

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Table 1: Descriptive statistics for Independent Variable – Family Structure and
Dependent Variable – Juvenile Offending. Sample (N=300).
Frequency

Percentage

Family Structure
No Parent Family

Orphans

146

48.7

Single Parent Family- Father

77

25.7

Single Parent Family- Mother

47

15.7

Two Parents Family

16

5.3

Polygamous home

14

4.7

300

100.0

Total
Mean= .92; Std. Dev= 1.129

Table 2: Frequency Distribution of the Outcome Variable – Street Children and predictor
variables – Level of Education. Sample (N=300).
Variables

Frequency

%

Level of Education
No Formal Education

171

57

Some Primary Education

67

22.3

Primary School Completed

37

12.3

Some Secondary Education

25

8.3

Total
Mean= 14.87; Std. Dev= 1.51

300

100

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As represented in Table 3, the data on the religious affiliation of street children in
this study indicate that 15% were Christians, 3% were Muslims, and 12% of the street
children indicated that came from homes where idols (objects) are worshipped.
Approximately 79% of these children indicated that they were not affiliated to any
religious organization; which means that approximately 212 out of the 300 street children
whose records were used in this study never went to any church, mosque or had any form
of religious instruction before they were admitted to the youth reformation center.
Physical and Sexual Abuse
Table 3 provides detailed information on the frequency and percentage
distribution of predictor variables – physical and sexual abuse. As indicated in Table 3,
the rate of physical abuse against the participants in this study was consistent with those
found in previous related investigations, while the rate of sexual abuse against the
participants was slightly inconsistent with those found in some previous related studies.
About 73% of the residents at the youth and reformation center had indicated in their
admission forms that they had experienced physical assault at home and on the street
before they were brought to the center. Although, most of the female residents at the
youth and reformation center reported that they were repeatedly sexually abused while
they were at home, on the whole, only 35.7% of the residents indicated on their forms
that they had been sexually abused at home. Sexual abuse and rape cases are highly
under-reported in Nigeria.
In the United States, the crime of rape or sexual assault is considered the most
under-reported crime in the FBI data.

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Table 3: Frequency Distribution of the Outcome Variable – Street Children and
predictor variables – Religious Affiliation, Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse.
Sample (N=300).
Variables

Frequency

%

Religious Affiliation
Christianity

45

15

6

2

36

12

213

79

Reported Sexual Abuse

107. 00

35.7

No Reported Sexual Abuse

193. 00

64.3

219

73

81

27

Islam
Paganism
No Religion
Sexual Abuse

Physical Abuse
Reported Physical Abuse
No Reported Physical Abuse

The situation in Nigeria is not different. In their study of 100 female street
hawkers and 100 female street non-hawkers aged between 8 and 15 years in Nigeria for
example, Ebigbo and Abaga (1990) noted that, out of the 67 girls who indicated in their
interviews that they were sexually abused, only seven reported the abuse to a parent or
guardian and only one case was reported to the police. Moreover, as in most sexual abuse
cases in Nigeria, the reported case did not lead to an arrest. Consistent with the popular
assumptions, in Nigeria, reasons that most victims give for non- reporting of sexual abuse
include: 1) fear of shame, stigma and ridicule, 2) fear of further victimization from
perpetrator, 3) fear of further sexual victimization by police officers who notoriously
known to be corrupt, 4) and a fear of reducing their chances of getting future husbands if

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the abuse was made public. Ebigbo and Abaga (1990) further noted that abusers are
sometimes relatives and family friends or powerful people with widespread connections.
Inferential Statistics
Table 4 and Table 5 show the correlation matrix for the outcome variable juvenile
offending among street children and the predictor variables: family structure, sexual
abuse, physical abuse, religious affiliation, gender, age, level of education and living
arrangement of street children. As illustrated in Tables 4, and 5, of the seven independent
variables, five were statistically significant at the p-value of 0.05 level (one tailed), while
three were statistically significant at the p-value of 0.01(one tailed). The correlation
matrix of the outcome variable, juvenile offending and the predictor variable physical
abuse as shown in Table 4, has a point-biserial coefficient correlation of .030 (r=.030) at a
one tailed significant value of .005. This relationship was positive (which means that both
the outcome variable and the predictor variable vary in the same direction) and
significant. Invariable, when the point biserial correlation coefficient of r=.030 was
regressed, it provided the coefficient of determination (R2= (0.30)2) of .0009, which
translates into physical abuse accounting for 9% of the variability in juvenile offending in
street children in Nigeria.
The relationship between outcome variable, juvenile offending and predictor
variable, family structure was not quite different. Family structure was significantly
related to juvenile offending in Nigeria, r=.047, p-value of .05 (one-tailed) and the
relationship was also positive. This finding translates into what has been found
consistently in research, that the more dysfunctional a family structure is, the more
juvenile offending in such family structure. When the point biserial correlation coefficient

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of r=.047 was regressed, it provided the coefficient of determination (R2= (.047)2) of .
0022, which translates into family structure accounting for 22% of the variability in
juvenile offending in street children in Nigeria.
However, the relationship between the outcome variable juvenile offending and
the predictor variable religious affiliation was, although significant, but came out
negative with r = -.111, p-value of .05(one-tailed). What this means in essence is that as
juveniles affiliate more with religion and its values, their level of delinquency decreases.
To take this relationship a little further was to regress the correlation coefficient. When
the point biserial correlation coefficient of r= -.111 was regressed, it provided the
coefficient of determination (R2= (0.111)2) of.-0123.
Other correlation findings include: As illustrated in Table 5, there was a
significant relationship (positive) between the gender of street children and juvenile
offending, r= ‘004, p-value of .05(one-tailed); The predictor variable, age was
significantly (positive) related to juvenile offending, r=.121, p-value of .05(one-tailed);
Age was significantly correlated (negative) with level of education, r= -.237, p-value of .
01(one-tailed); The number of street children sexually abused was significantly correlated
with religious affiliation. The relationship was negative, r= -.210, p-value of .01(onetailed); and the number of physically abused street children was significantly related
(positive) to religious affiliation, r= .263, p-value of .01(one-tailed)

Table 4: Correlation Matrix of Juvenile Offending Among Street Children
Variables

Juvenile
Offending

Family
Structure

Sexual
Abuse

Physical
Abuse

Religious
Affiliation

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Juvenile

.047*

.041

.030*

-.111*

.075

-.114

-.079

.014

-.210**

Offending
Family
Structure
Sexual Abuse
Physical
Abuse

.263**

Religious
Affiliation
*p-value<0.05 level (1 tailed); **p-value<.01 (1 tailed)

Table 5: Correlation Matrix of Juvenile Offending Among Street Children
Variables

Juvenile
Offending

Juvenile

Gender
.004*

Age

Level of
Edu.

.121*

-.018

.077

-.041

Living
Arrange
.018

Offending
Gender
Age
Level of
Education

-.237**

-.040
-.009
-.095

Living
Arrangement
Binary Regression Model
Family Structure: As shown in Table 4, the binary logistic regression indicates that as
change in odds resulting from a unit change from the “No Parent Family Structure”
which is represented by “0” to the “Two Parent Family Structure” which is represented
by “1”, in the predictor variable “Family Structure” ( Exp (B)), the output is .710. In
addition, because .710 is less than 1, each additional unit of the predictor variable family

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structure (B= -.343) decreases the odds of juvenile offending among street children by a
factor of Exp(B) = .710. This finding is consistent with the key theoretical prediction of
this study that youth living in two two-parent biological families fare better on a range of
developmental outcomes than those in single-parent or alternative structures (Amato and
Keith, 1991). Other findings include:
Religious Affiliation: The binary logistic regression analysis indicates that as the
predictor variable “religious affiliation” moves from religious affiliation represented as 0
to no religious affiliation represented by “1”, and since Exp (B) of 1.683 is greater than 1,
each additional unit of the predictor variable religious Affiliation (B= .521) increases the
odds of juvenile offending among street children by a factor of Exp(B) =1.683.
Specifically, with the result of the binary regression analysis at β = .521 and Exp(B) =
1.683, the researcher can predict a decrease of approximately 52% probability that a
child that is religiously affiliated would be less likely to offend than a child with no
religious affiliation. In this case, religious affiliation is a protective rather than risk factor.
Gender: As the predictor variable Gender moves from Female represented as 0 to Male
represented by “1”, and since Exp (B) of 1.421 is greater than 1, each additional unit of
the predictor variable Gender (B= 0.319) increases the odds of juvenile offending among
street children by a factor of Exp(B) =1.421. What this means is that, with the result of
the binary logistic regression analysis, a male street child has about 32% probability of
offending over a female street children. This finding is consistent with the literature.
Level of Education: The binary logistic regression analysis indicates that “each
additional unit of the predictor variable Level of Education (B= .099) increases the odds

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of juvenile offending among street children by a factor of Exp (B) =1.103 as the indicator
moves from “some education” represented as “0” to “no education” represented by “1”.
Physical Abuse: The binary logistic analysis specify that each additional unit of the
predictor variable Physical Abuse (B= -.263) decreases the odds of juvenile offending
among street children by a factor of Exp (B) =.769. (Physical Abuse=0); (No Physical
Abuse=1). As illustrated in Table 4, the probability that a child that has not experienced
physical abuse would offend decreases by 26% (Odds Ratio: .769). Invariably, physical
abuse is a risk factor to offending.

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Table 6: Variables in the Equation

Step 1

a

B
Family Structure(1) -.343

S.E.
.611

Wald
.315
1

df

Exp (B)
.710

Religious
Affiliation(1)
Sexual Abuse(1)

.521

.270

3.728

1

1.683

-.009

.263

.001

1
1

.991

Physical Abuse(1)

-.263

.294

.802

Living Arrange(1)

-.357

.258

1.918

Gender(1)

0.319

.288

.007

.769
1
.700
1
1.421
1

Age

.098

.052

3.554

1.103
1

Level Education

.099

.136

.525

1.104

1
Constant
-.108
1.006
.011
.898
a. Variable(s) entered on step 1: FamilyStructure, ReligiousAffliation, SexualAbuse,
PhysicalAbuse, LivingArrange, Gender, Age, LevelEducation.
The Qualitative Data
Casual Observational Study
Consistent with the literature and findings in the first phase of this study, the
researcher observed that at night, the marketplace and the adjourning streets, gas stations,
uncompleted and abandoned houses become homes where a great number of homeless
street children live, eat, take their baths, and sleep. During the day, while some children
were seen in large numbers wandering, and roaming inside and around the marketplace;
on the streets doing nothing or looking for something to steal or someone to rob; others
were seen begging, hawking, playing, fighting, hustling, panhandling and struggling to

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provide themselves with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter and
other things.
Essentially, street children live, eat, sleep, and interact with each other on the
street day in and day out. The World Health Organization (WHO), in its 1996 Report,
noted that many children would rather live on the street because living on the street is
easier than coping with the problems at home. Problems can include conflict with family
members, especially parents, physical and sexual abuse, and absence of basic necessities
of life (food, shelter, clothing, health care). Some leave homes to stay on the street
because they feel that home is like prison (WHO, 1996). It is interesting to notice that
some fathers, mothers, and children of street children, displaced due to unemployment,
poverty, and austerity measures by government, live by the roadsides near the market,
inside the markets, ring road, uncompleted and abandoned buildings. According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), these families move their possessions from place to
place; and from time to time when necessary (WHO, 1996). As the researcher, I was a
part of that type of street life for five days and five nights at the marketplace in Benin
City, Nigeria, from February 5, 2013 to February 9, 2013.
It is interesting to note that more children were observed on the street during the
day than at night. This observation can be explained in two ways. First it lends credence
to the UNICEF (1988) categorization of street children. According to UNICEF (1988) (as
explained earlier), there are two major categories of street children: 1) Children on the
Street and 2) Children of the Street. Children on the Street, otherwise known as street
working children are street children who essentially worked on the street to make a living
for themselves and most times for their families but went home to their families at night.

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Children of the street, on the other hand, have no homes. They live, work, eat and sleep
on the street, usually under bridges, abandoned and dilapidated building, market places,
underground tunnels, and broken down neighborhoods. Therefore, the fewer children on
the street at night can be explained by the absence of “children on street” who return to
the respective homes at night after the day’s work on the street.
The other possible explanation for the difference is consistent with what has been
observed in other studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that many
children are on the streets during the day because they want to earn money for themselves
and to support members of their families. They lack basic resources for healthy living at
home, and as such must return to the street during the day to earn money. These children
can earn money by begging, carrying and bearing, car washing, drug trafficking, selling
sex, juggling, running errands, scavenging, stealing, robbing, shoe shining or vending
(WHO, 1996). Most of these activities can take place during the day. Casual observation
on the street indicates that a large number of these children do not go to school.
Consistent with the claims of Nte and colleagues (2012), this study found that a majority
of the children on and of the street are functional illiterates with no basic skills to help
them to get proper jobs.
Primary education in Nigeria is free, but the actual cost of attending school
(buying uniforms, books, shoes and other costs) is substantial and completely out of
reach of street children and their families. Moreover, the living environment and
conditions of street life does not provide these children the same educational
opportunities available to children living at home with their parents. Most Nigerian
educational institutions are usually based on western middle class materials, values, and

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culture. In schools, not only are street children required to compete with middle class
children, but they are also evaluated by adults or teachers who use middle class
measuring rods or standards (Cohen, 1955). Street children are lower class children who
tend to lack both material and symbolic advantages or resources to compete with middle
class children who are usually exposed to these western middle class educational
materials and values. The conflict and frustration resulting from failure to meet middleclass standards and measuring rods have been seen by scholars as one of the primary
causes of strain that lead to delinquency among street children (Cohen, 1955). This
finding is also consistent with the findings in the first phase of this study as it relates to
level of education and street children.
Observing street children at the marketplace and on the streets of Benin City was
quite an experience, the researcher recalled. As it appeared, street children observed in
the marketplace were very suspicious and afraid of newcomers. Many street children will
not speak to strangers, especially about who they are and about their lives. This was
apparent during the researcher’s first two days on the street. First, the street children were
curious and wanted to know who the researcher was. They asked questions among
themselves but would not come close to the researcher. The researcher, on the other hand,
could only observe the street children because of the Prairie View A&M University
Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) restrictions of non-interaction with the street children.
Although skeptical about strangers, it was observed that the street children at the
marketplace exhibited a high level of trust among themselves, especially among members
of the same tribe and gang. It was interesting to observe that street children move around
in small groups of four or five children, and as it appears that these children depend on

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each other for support of various kinds. What was so exciting was when the researcher
attended a soccer match between the markets boys and the servants (The Amadas) of the
Oba of Benin at the Oba’s palace. The boys of both sides appear to be friends who live in
close proximity. The Oba of Benin’s palace is very close to the marketplace. The joy,
excitement and enthusiasm with which the children on both sides played and interacted
with each other during the soccer game as if there were no problems of any kind in the
world prompted the researcher curiosity and to wish he was a young boy again. Watching
the supporting boys and girls of both sides rushed inside the field with excitement every
time each side scored a goal brought tears of joy to the researcher. A great lesson was
learned from this observation: children will always be children. It takes “just a little” to
make children happy.
Consistent with existing research findings and the quantitative data analyzed for
this study, the study observed that the majority of the children on the streets, and inside
the market place were boys of an approximate age range of 6 to 18, with the majority
being between the ages of 10 to 15. Street adults of both male and female were also
observed. These categories of street “urchins” children consist of men and women in their
early 20s and late 30s who more or less play the fatherly and motherly roles for street
children of the street. The street adults can be approximated to the Veteranos or O.G.s
closely associated with the Chicano and the African American gangs in the United States.
Interestingly, these groups of elderly statesmen of the street are responsible for the
socialization and control of younger street children under their care. Most of them are
jobless but depend on the street boys and girls to provide them with their daily living,
without regard to how or where these children acquire the resources.

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Densley and Joss (2000) noted that worldwide the majority of the children on the
streets are boys. Their explanation of the gender disparity was cultural. Traditionally, they
claimed that girls are viewed as needing protection and as such are kept at home and they
are often needed and used for domestic work around the house (Densley & Joss, 2000).
By the researcher’s estimation, over 80% of the juveniles seen in the marketplace were
male, while about 20% were female. Most of the females seen were hawking cooked food
and food items inside the market, while a small proportion of the boys were seen working
as bus conductors.
What was obvious to the researcher in the marketplace was the existence of gangs
and gang activities. As the researcher had indicated earlier, the street children at the
marketplace during the period of this investigation were always found in small but
different groups that could be characterized as gangs. These small but different groups
tend to look like that they are parts of much larger groups organized along tribal lines.
The suspicion of the researcher is that these small but different groups are arranged along
tribal lines often for mutual protection and support of their members against other groups
and law enforcement agents. Studies have found that street children are vulnerable to
various forms of victimization, harassments, and abuses of all kinds from all kinds of
people including the police.
Densley and Joss (2000) claimed that, universally, street children are viewed with
community contempt, subject to police harassment and arrest, brutalized by older street
children, and are victims of family violence (Densley & Joss, 2000). Brutalization and
arrest by the police and abuses and victimization by other tribal members and the general
public are usually cited as the primary reason for the formation of the gang-like structures

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among street children in Nigeria. And consistent with the literature and the assumptions
of social disorganization, the formation of these gang-like structures could also be
attributed to the failure of the society’s social institutions (family, government, schools,
religion, and economy) to provide the proper social order required of a decent society.
Jankowski exclaimed that
according to the theories of social disorganization, poor economic conditions have
caused social disorganization to the extent that there is lack of social control. The
lack of social controls leads to gang formation and involvement because young
people in low income neighborhood (slums, market places, on the streets,
abandoned and dilapidated buildings) seek the social order than gang can provide
(Jankowski, 1991, p. 22).
Gangs provide alternative social order where and when formal or informal social
control mechanisms are weaken or lacking. Dominant among these small but different
groups was the Ishan Boys and Girl Gang. The Ishan Boys and Girl Gang was very
fascinating to observe. The structure of the group resembles that of the Area Boys of
Lagos. Contrary to the traditional belief that most common gangs, typical of those found
in developing countries, are loosely structured, the Ishan Boys and Girl Gang of the
market and the surrounding areas is an organized crime gang. Like most gangs found in
most civilized countries of the world, it is an organized social system that is both quasiprivate (not fully open to the general public) and quasi- secretive (in that much of the
information concerning its business remains confirmed within the group) (Jankowski,
1991), and one whose size and goals have dictated the type of leadership reminiscence of
the Russian Mafia in the United States.

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Oral history has it that the Ishans in general as a people and a tribal group are very
secretive and tribal conscious. Ishan Boys and Girl Gangs in the market as observed do
not open their doors to everyone. Decisions concerning membership in the group or
recruitment of new members are usually dependent on a variety of conditions, and
members are usually made to take oaths of secrecy. The researcher made several attempts
to socialize with some members of the groups when they came to buy some food items
from Mr. Eboigbe’s retail commissary store inside the market, but every such attempt
failed. The quasi secretiveness of the Ishan Boys and Girl Gang has been attributed to the
nature of its criminal activities and government responses to such activities. The crime of
armed robbery for which these groups of clandestine individuals are greatly involved in,
if convicted, attracts the death penalty by public execution or hanging by the neck in
Nigeria. Political assassination and murder carry the same death penalty.
Like the Area Boys of Lagos, what essentially differentiates these small groups of
street boys and girls in the market place from the all other small groups of thieves,
robbers and murderers running around in Benin City and Lagos, the researcher
discovered, is their unique defiant characteristic. The Area Boys of Lagos, for example,
can best be characterized (using the words of Jankowski, 1991) ‘’as an organization
composed of individuals who possess defiant individualistic characters – that is to say
that it is an organized defiant individualism’’ (Jankowski, 1991).
Some scholars have argued that these small like gangs of street children in the
market place have existed, originally, not as a gang of thieves, robbers and murderers, but
as a social resistant movement to marginalization and oppression, protesting the
complexity of social differentiation, oppression and discrimination by the dominant Edo

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people, inequality of wealth, polarization of living conditions brought about by the overpopulation and the deteriorating effects of their homes and neighborhoods; growth in
poverty and deprivation, frustration as a result of unstable street life, unemployment and
hunger brought about by the dwindling effect of bad economic planning by corrupt
government administrators of Nigeria, which subsequently necessitated the
implementation of the structural adjustment act of 1986.
Matusitz and Repass (2009) wrote that “ a notorious Nigerian gang is called ‘Yan
Daba, which roughly means “area boys” or “macho boys” (p. 503). The ‘Yan Daba
members are thugs; they are young men who are undereducated, underemployed, or
simply unemployed. They carry with them a sentiment of resistance identity and an
enduring, oppositional, and radicalized culture (Gifford, 1998, Matusitz & Repass 2009).
Matusitz and Repass (2009) added that “Area Boys are young male thugs who take to
crime in the streets because educational and employment opportunities are not available
to them. They also conduct clandestine meetings in Dabas, secret lairs usually found in
derelict buildings or market sites. The Area Boys are considered revolutionaries who earn
their living through politically motivated thuggery” (Matusitz & Repass 2009).
A gang, according to Brotherton and Barrios (2004),
is a group formed largely by youth and adults of a marginalized social class which
aims to provide its members with a resistant identity, an opportunity to be
individually and collectively empowered, a voice to speak back to and challenge
the dominant culture, a refuge from the stresses and strains of barrio or ghetto life
and a spiritual enclave within which its own sacred rituals can be generated and
practiced (p. 23).

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Street children belong to a marginalized group with inappropriate social
relationship with the major social institutions of society. Oral history has it that these
small like groups of street children have been known to react against their
marginalization, deprivation, social isolation by the mainstream society in many different
ways. Some scholars have noted that rapid industrialization that engulfed the Nigerian
culture in the early 70s and the negative effect of globalization such as magnified poverty
– no food, no clean water, no education, no health care, and in short, the lack of basic
necessities of daily life in the mist of plenty and a capitalistic economy whose emphasis
is on the maximization of profit and wealth, tend to exacerbate the level of frustration in
the marginalized, disadvantaged and isolated street children to such an imaginary state
enough to transform them into violent creature.
Casual observation revealed that these sets of street children (sets of small but
different groups) are a bundle of frustrated, confused, hopeless in a society that has failed
them, and as such desperate to take whatever they can get. In order words, they become a
group of desperados that have developed what Jankowski (1991) referred to as the “a
defiant air”. These groups of children disarticulated both from the political and economic
conventional mainstream who with some reasonable level of political illegitimacy and
some manipulative prowess have manifested into a force that would take when and what
it wants to take; and would careless of the consequence. To them, they have been push to
their limits. “I am going to take what I want and no one is going to stop me. To them, this
is the natural other of things, how things are supposed to be” (Jankowski, 1991; Sheldon,
Tracy, & Brown, 2004, p. 63). When confronting authorities in the likes of the police or
other constituted law enforcement officers, they show little or no display of fear,

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deference, or remorse (Jankowski, 1991; Sheldon, Tracy, & Brown, 2004). Offending,
especially violent ones become not only their way of life but their method of showing
defiance and rebellion against constituted authorities. And as long as legitimate means of
achieving cultural goals and personal desires remain unavailable or unstable, offending
becomes their only means of wherewithal as it provides immediate gratification of desires
– “money without work, sex without courtship, revenge without court delays. They want
it here and now” (Gottfredson & Hirschi 1990, p. 89). They have experienced
marginalization, powerlessness and hopelessness for so long that they tend to lack
diligence, tenacity, dedication, determination, and the fortitude to know and do what is
morally responsible in a culture outside their own.
Experience has shown that street children especially those in small like groups
have engaged in a series of political protests seeking better conditions of living and police
brutality against them; have taken active part in political campaigns as potential thugs
seeking to change the status quo.
Conclusion
This chapter presents a detailed analysis of both the quantitative and qualitative
data collected for this study, discussion of the findings to the three fundamental questions
that guided this study. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship
between demographic and social characteristics of street children and juvenile offending
among street children in Nigeria with the view of identifying and profiling the typical
street child in Nigeria. Consistent with the literature and previous studies on the
demographic and social characteristics of juvenile offending and profiling the typical
juvenile offender, the findings of the current study revealed that the typical juvenile

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offender among street children in Nigeria is most likely to be a male of approximately 14
years of age, most likely to come from a non-religious, no parent family structure (than
two-parents family structure) background, and most likely to be living, eating and
sleeping on the street (rather than living at home with a relative). In addition, the typical
street child is most likely to be an illiterate and may have been physically abused as a
child while living at home with a relative.
The next chapter presents the summary of the finding, general and specific
conclusions, policy implication, and suggestions for future work.

Chapter 5
Conclusion and Future Work
Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, a voice of iron (lion), I could not
sum up all the types of crime nor all their punishment.
-

Virgil (1952).

The purpose of this study was to describe street children and their juvenile
offending in Benin City, Nigeria. The study presupposed that juvenile offending among
street children is consequent upon the institutional or structural arrangements in which
the juvenile offenders among street children find themselves (neighborhood poverty, lack
of parental control, disorganized neighborhood characterized by weaken or broken down
informal control mechanism, and, or inappropriate socialization). Consistent with
structural Marxism, the study further presupposed that some (not every) social order
grows to a state of maximum imbalance so much so that these imbalances produce some
contradictions and weaknesses (such as social disorganization, strains and inadequate
socialization) that eventually cause juvenile offending among street children. The
assumption here was that street children are, by nature, born good as all other children.
Some of them become bad or delinquent because of the failing of societal means - the
family, the school, the church, the economics and community- regarding these children in
terms of meeting their needs or providing the opportunities for meeting such needs. As a
result, these categories of children offend because they are strained or differentially
socialized into a deviant subculture.
The overall findings of this study are consistent with the assumption of social
structural positivism that emphasizes that human behavior is determined by the social and
140

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economic conditions of life, including but not limited to poverty, alienation, social
disorganization, weak social controls, personal frustration, relative deprivation,
differential opportunities, alternative means to success, and deviant subcultures and
subcultural values that conflict with conventional values or institutions of society that
affect the social and physical environment of which human beings are a part of (Kubrin
et. al., 2009; Schmalleger, 2011). Therefore, juveniles living in such social and physical
environments offend because they are strained by the social and economic conditions or
institutions that they find themselves by no fault of their own. Studies emphasizing the
social disorganization theory for example, have consistently argued that children reared
in socially and economically disadvantaged, disorderly, and decaying neighborhoods are
typically at a high risk of engaging in delinquency. Street children living on the streets, in
stairways, under bridges, abandoned and dilapidated building, market places,
underground tunnels, are invariably living their lives away in socially and economically
disadvantaged, disorganized, disorderly, decaying and broken down neighborhoods.
Therefore these sets of juveniles offend because they are strained by social, economic,
and environmental factors on the street. Agnew (2006) remarked that individuals
experience strain when there is the actual or anticipated removal or loss of positively
valued stimuli; when the individual aspires for wealth or fame but lacks the educational
or financial resources to achieve goals and when he or she is being treated poorly,
brutalized, abused and neglected, marginalized, discriminated against or victimized.

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Discussion
Three fundamental questions guided this research study and each research
question presented the following findings:
Research Question 1: Who is the typical street child among street children in Nigeria
likely to offend?
Consistent with the literature and previous studies on the demographic and social
characteristics of juvenile offending and profiling the typical juvenile offender, this study
revealed that the typical juvenile offender among street children in Nigeria is most likely
to be a male of approximately 14 years of age, most likely to come from a non-religious,
no parent family structure (than two-parents family structure) background, and most
likely to be living, eating and sleeping on the street (rather than living at home with a
relative). In addition, the typical street child is most likely to be an illiterate and may have
been physically abused as a child while living at home with a relative. It was interesting
to note though, that the analysis of the relationship between sexual abuse and juvenile
offending among street children presented a completely different story. Although, most of
the female residents at the youth and reformation center reported that they were sexually
abused several times while they were at home by relatives and others, on the whole, only
35.7% of the residents indicated on their forms that they had been sexually abused at
home. This finding is consistent with what happens in many other countries of the world.
As it is in almost all societies, the United States included, sexual abuse and rape cases are
highly under-reported in Nigeria.
The fact that these abuses are not reported does not mean that they do not happen.
In the study of 100 female street hawkers and 100 female street non-hawkers aged

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between 8 and 15 years in Nigeria for example, out of the 67 girls who indicated in their
interviews that they were sexually abused, only seven reported the abuse to a parent or
guardian and only one case was reported to the police (Ebigbo & Abaga, 1990).
Moreover, as customary with most sexual abuse cases in Nigeria, the reported case did
not lead to an arrest. Traditionally, reasons that most victims give for non- reporting of
sexual abuse in Nigeria include: 1) Fear of shame, stigma and ridicule, 2) Fear of further
victimization from perpetrator, 3) Fear of further sexual victimization by police officers
who are notoriously known to be corrupt, 4) and a fear of reducing their chances of
getting future husbands if the abuse was made public.
Gender
Men are always and everywhere more likely than women to commit criminal
acts.
(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990)
The predictor variable, gender plays a significant role in the understanding of the
phenomenon of juvenile offending among street children. Most contemporary studies
indicate that there is a strong correlation between gender and juvenile offending
(Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1994; Nagel & Hagan, 1983). Taylor and Fritsch (2011) noted
that “gender is a genetic risk factor that is clearly a predictor of delinquency. Boys are
more involved in more serious forms of delinquency than girls” (p. 74). Arrest and court
records of countries have consistently indicated massive over-representation of men in
official statistics and victimization survey.
In this study, the analysis of the relationship between gender and juvenile
offending among street children in Nigeria has shown that males are more likely than

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female to engage in juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria. The distribution
of the participants in the study by gender shows that the juvenile offenders among street
children were predominantly male with approximately 78% (234 street children out of
300) and 22% (66 street children) were female. The casual observational study at the
market place and adjourning streets in Nigeria indicated an approximate ratio of 5: 1.
Age
Positivistic theories create a criminal required by the laws of determinism to
do as he does (that is, commit criminal acts). Alas for such theories, at the moment
the offender is fully created, at the moment he is complete, he begins to do what he
does less and less frequently, and the theory that created him cannot explain why he
no longer does what he was designed to do.
Matza, 1964
The findings of this study revealed that with the mean age of approximately 13.1
years, the mode age of 14 (with approximate 89 participants out of 300), the standard
deviation of 1.65 (see fig 2), and with cumulative percentage between ages 10 and 14
standing at 82.7%, majority of the participants (approximately 248 participants out of
300) were in the age group of less than 14 years. As Figure 1 illustrates, juvenile
offending among the participants in this study gradually progress from age 12 (16%)
through age 13 (18.7%) and peaked at age 14 with 29.7 percent. The study reported a
reduction in the frequency of offending at ages 15 and 16 with only 10 percent and 7.3
percent respectively.
Research Question 2: Is the street child living in and on the streets in Nigeria more
likely to offend than the street child living at home with a relative?

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In order to answer this question, the study identified two types of street children
in Nigeria: 1) Children on the Street and 2) Children of the Street. The juvenile detention
and reformation center data indicated that 62% of the juvenile offenders among street
children lived on the streets (Children of the Street) while 38% of the juvenile offenders
among street children lived at home with at least a relative (Children on the Street). The
correlation matrix indicated a positive relationship between living arrangement and
juvenile offending.
The result of the binary logistic regression indicates that children living on the
streets are more likely to offend than children living with their parents at home in familiar
relationships or as children move from living on the street to living with their parents at
home in familiar relationships, the odds of their offending decrease by a factor of Exp(B)
= .700.
Specifically, with the result of the binary regression analysis at β = -.357 and
Exp(B) = .700, the researcher can predict an increase of approximately 36% probability
that a child living on the street would be more likely to offend than a child living at home
with the parents. This result is consistent with the findings of the casual observation
conducted by this study.
Research Question 3: What social forces seem to push children into the streets and
thereby into lives of crime?
Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it.
-

Schmalleger, 2011; Chinese Proverb

Several theoretical frameworks have been advanced by criminological scholars to
explain the contribution of social factors to juvenile offending or more specifically why

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children leave home to the street and while on the street begin to offend. Positivism has
always insisted that crime is frequently caused or mostly caused by several factors. Some
scholars have argued that children leave their homes to live on the street for a variety of
reasons and paramount among them is poverty (Balachova et al., 2008; World Health
Organization, 1996). Kopoka (2002) wrote that “Poverty is a major cause of street
children. Africa is today characterized by extreme poverty. It is poverty that is resulting in
children being forced to work on the streets to support themselves and their families”
(p.8).
According to Moura (2002), poverty is a major factor responsible for the
breakdown of traditional family structure and why some families become dysfunctional
(Moura, 2002). Moura argued that dysfunctional families cannot provide enough time,
control, support, love and protection to their children (Moura, 2002). This school of
thought assumes that poor or no income affect the basic tasks of families such as the
inability to provide basic necessities of life, e.g., food, shelter, clothing, protection and
education for their children (Flowers, 2001; Tower, 1989). Families therefore, that cannot
meet or provide such growing essentials of life for their children are often forced to send
their children away to the street or sell them out for prostitution abroad.
Oral history has it that the typical African family devastated by extreme poverty
believes that selling sex is a major avenue in which the standard of living could be
improved. Sanger (1937) for example explained that in the continent of Africa, parents
sell their children, husbands sell their wives, and wives sell themselves, for a trifling sum.
Marriage is a mere purchase, a wife costing about $15 or $16 and women are unsalable
when they are more than $15 or $16 years old (Sanger, 1937). The paradox here is that

147

not all children on the streets are runaway, most of them are throwaways or forced out of
their homes. According to Flowers, these children – mostly teenagers are often referred to
as “throwaways”, “thrownaways”, “pushouts”, “castouts”, and “castouts”. Unlike the
runaway who leaves home of his or her accord, the throwaway typically is put out of the
house either directly or indirectly, usually against the child’s wishes” (Flowers, 2001, p.
17). According to Ringdal (2004), in Africa, a man with many daughters could become
rich especially if he earned a living from goats and cattle he got from selling his
daughters away to whoever is willing to pay the right price.
Okojie et al. (2000) explained that Nigeria is a multicultural country with diverse
ethnic and religious identity with an estimated population of over 120 million people.
Available records show that over 60% of the population lives below the poverty line and
women and children, especially those in rural areas, form a large part of the poor. Okojie
et al (2000) further explained that most families, unable to cope with exorbitant costs of
education and family life are forced to withdraw their female children from school and
most time, traffic them to Europe to prostitute or to the streets to hawk (Okojie et al,
2002). Either way, these children end up selling sex to take care of themselves and family
members.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Service
Bureau (1995) expressed concerns that two-thirds of the street runaways in their study
reported that they had difficulties in meeting the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter,
and medical attention; lacked other necessities such as lack of family support, attention,
stability and encouragement while they were living at home with a relative. Most of the
participants also reported incidences of child sexual, physical and mental abuse; and

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neglect (FYSB, 1995; Flowers, 2001). Densley et al, (2000) noted that children leave
home to live on the street for the following reasons: family breakdown, armed conflict,
poverty, natural and man-made disasters, famine, physical and sexual abuse, exploitation
by adults, dislocation, through migration, urbanization and overcrowding, and
acculturation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) (1996) declared that street children exist
in every part of the world and large groups of children unsupervised by adults have
appeared in almost every country during some part of history. Most are found in large,
urban areas of developing countries. They constitute a specially marginalized and
deprived group of children in most societies. The World Health Organization (WHO)
(1996) further emphasized that:
They do not have what society considers appropriate relationship with major
institutions of childhood such as family, education, and health. Their continuous
exposure to harsh environments and conditions on the street coupled with the nature
of their lifestyles make them vulnerable to substance use, inadequate nutrition,
physical injuries, and health problems including sexual and reproductive health
problems” (p. iii).
An interesting finding of this study is that it presents significant relationships
between the family structure, level of education, religious affiliations and juvenile
offending among street children. Analyses of the relationship between structural
arrangement of society and juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria indicate
that: As illustrated in Tables 6, and 7, of the seven predictive variables statistically
analyzed using the SPSS in this study; five (“Family structure”, gender, and physical

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abuse, age, and level of education) were statistically significant at the p-value of 0.05
level (one tailed), while three were statistically significant at the p-value of 0.01(one
tailed). The correlation matrix of the outcome variable, juvenile offending and the
predictor variable family structure, for example, had a point-biserial coefficient
correlation of .047 (r=.047) at a one tailed significant value of .005. This relationship was
statistically significant and positive. The finding translates into what has been found
consistently in research, that the more dysfunctional a family structure is, the more
juvenile offending in such family structure. Invariably, when the point biserial correlation
coefficient of r=.047 was regressed, it provided the coefficient of determination (R2=
(.047)2) of .0022, which translates into family structure accounting for 22% of the
variability in juvenile offending in street children in Nigeria.
However, the relationship between the outcome variable juvenile offending and
the predictor variable religious affiliation was significant, but negative with r = -.111, pvalue of .05(one-tailed). What this means in essence is that as juveniles affiliate more
with religion and its values, their level of delinquency decreases. Results of the binary
logistic analyses also indicated strong association between the individual predictor
variables and the outcome variable “Juvenile Offending among Street Children. The
binary logistic regression analyses as illustrated in Table 6 dictate as follows that: each
additional unit of the predictor variable family structure (B= -.343) decreases the odds of
juvenile offending among street children by a factor of Exp(B) = .710; each additional
unit of the predictor variable Gender (B= 0.319) increases the odds of juvenile offending
among street children by a factor of Exp(B) =1.421, and each additional unit of the

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predictor variable Physical Abuse (B= -.263) decreases the odds of juvenile offending
among street children by a factor of Exp(B) =.769
Family, education, economy and government are cultural universals or social
institutions that are found in almost all societies. These social institutions are usually
responsible for the socialization and social control of the new generations. When any of
these institutions is dysfunctional, something is not just wrong, everything is wrong. In
general, the results of this study offer serious support for the assumption that juvenile
offending among street children is consequent upon the institutional or structural
arrangements in which the juvenile offenders among street children find themselves
(neighborhood poverty, lack of parental control, disorganized neighborhood characterized
by weaken or broken down informal control mechanism, and, or inappropriate
socialization). Street children sleep, work and eat together on the streets in abandoned
buildings, dilapidated buildings or broken down house, and under the bridges (UNICEF,
2006) with little or no parental control or adult supervision.
Taylor and Fritsch (2011) declared that in general, juveniles live in various
worlds. These worlds—family environment, social environment, ecological environment,
and educational environment (school)—can determine what types of behaviors and
lifestyles juveniles will develop (Taylor & Fritsch, 2011).
Family Environment
The casual observation of street children presents the typical street child as a boy
most likely to eat from garbage cans and dumps; suffer from various medical afflictions,
and exposed to so much brutality and exploitation. What is remarkable about this finding
is that the typical street child is most likely to be an orphan, an abandoned child (child

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orphaned by their parents or guardians), a throwaway, or from a family structure
characterized by child maltreatment, poor family practice, illiteracy and social
disorganization. The risk factor for most orphans, abandoned or thruway children is that
they are usually deprived of parental care, parental supervision and lack of parental
discipline and involvement in their lives. Balachova et al. (2009) remarked that children
lacking parental care and control such as those living in orphanages are usually at high
risk of running away and living on the street.
The literature and empirical studies on the relationship between family structure
and offending among youths suggest that youth living in two two-parent biological
families fare better on a range of developmental outcomes than those in single-parent or
alternative structures (Amato & Keith, 1991). Evidence abound that fathers of nondelinquent youths living in a single family structure had better outcome and twice more
likely to be warmly disposed towards their children than fathers of delinquent youths
living in a single family structure (Glueck and Glueck, 1950). Moreover, youth living in
families in which the mother was cohabiting with an unmarried partner had worse
outcomes than those in stepparent families (Zahn, Agnew, Fishbein, Miller, Winn, &
Dakoff, 2010). Nadon et al (1998) wrote that research suggests that dysfunctional family
environments may lead to both children leaving home and to subsequent juvenile
offending. Family backgrounds of prostitutes for example are typically marked by chaos
and defective parenting (MacVicar & Dillon, 1980; Newman & Caplan, 1982).
The research literature on the relationship between family conditions and
delinquency indicate that several factors appear necessary to produce a socialized child. It
suggests that uppermost in the list of factors are discipline, supervision, and affection.

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Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) noted that parental concern for the welfare and general
upkeep of a child for example, is a necessary condition for successful child rearing
(Glueck & Glueck, 1950; Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Specifically, studies have found
that these conditions tend to be missing in homes of delinquents. Glueck and Glueck
(1950) mentioned that supervision tends to be a major predictor of delinquency. An
analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, using a large
national probability sample of adolescents (Manning & Lamb, 2003) indicate that youth
in two-parent biological families had more favorable adolescent outcomes than youth
with other family structures, including lower levels of reported delinquency involvement.
Consistent with this assumption, Jankowski (1991), argued that such dysfunctional family
environment especially those characterized by poor social economic conditions have
caused social disorganization to the point that it had resulted to a lack of social control.
Jankowski asserted that young people living in such dysfunctional poor social economic
conditions run away from their respective homes to seek the social order that gangs can
provide (Jankowski, 1991). Jankowski emphasized that gangs emerge in socially
disorganized and disadvantaged neighborhoods as an organizational response or
alternative social order seeking to improve the competitive advantage of its members in
acquiring material and psychological resources.
Ecological Environment
Social disorganization is an ecological risk factor to delinquency. Studies have
found that socially disorganized neighborhoods especially those that are characterized by
high poverty rates typically tend to have disproportionately high levels of violence and
crime; and juveniles living in such neighborhoods tend to be more involved in crime and

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violence as well. Shaw and McKay (1929) concluded about Chicago that, in sequence:
the deteriorated areas of the city produce social disorganization; socially disorganized
neighborhoods lead to ineffective social control of children; ineffective control of
children allows street gangs to emerge or develop; gangs transmit delinquent traditions
from one generation of gang boys to the next; and delinquent traditions produce high
delinquency rates.
Deteriorated areas → Social disorganization → Ineffective social control of
children→ Emergence of street gangs → Transmission delinquent traditions →
Production of high delinquency rates.
Consistent with the literature and previous studies and the United Nations
Children Fund’s conceptualization of street children, this study revealed that the typical
juvenile offenders among street children in Nigeria is most likely to be living, working,
and sleeping on the streets, in stairways, under bridges, abandoned and dilapidated
building, market places, underground tunnels, broken down neighborhoods. The streets,
stairways, under bridges, abandoned and dilapidated building, market places,
underground tunnels, and broken down neighborhoods can be approximated to, if not
worse than the typical American Slums.
The United Nations (2007) in its millennium development report defines “slum”
as a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing, squalor, vice,
depravity, wretchedness, lacking in tenure security and disease. American slums are
usually characterized by socially disorganized crime infested neighborhoods,
dissoluteness, poverty, delinquent peers and gang subculture. Shaw and McKay (1942)
argued that there is social disorganization in slum areas. According to them, the slum

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conditions and deteriorated areas of the city produce socially disorganized neighborhood.
The people who live in disorganized neighborhoods usually suffer from inadequate
family life, constant fixture of poverty, deteriorating neighborhoods and ineffective
religion, informal social control, education, and weakened informal control mechanism.
Cloward and Ohlin (1960) explained that more than one way exists for juveniles
to achieve their objectives or cultural goals and aspirations. Not only are there a set of
conventional or legitimate means for the truly disadvantaged juvenile to achieve his or
her cultural goals and aspirations, which most of the time are not readily available, but
standard illegitimate avenues exist as well (Cloward & Ohlin, 1960, Williams &
McShane, 2010). Typically, the truly disadvantaged, disorganized and decayed
neighborhoods like the streets, broken down neighborhoods and marketplaces provide
youth with little or no legitimate opportunity structure to achieve their cultural goals and
aspirations. Yet the Nigeria culture, heavily dictated by the western style capitalistic
economy is known to emphasize materialism and the tenets of the dominant cultural
ethos – the imperative to succeed, without stressing the importance of the legitimate
means for the pursuit of success. Merton (1968) explained that the disjunction between
the cultural and social structure places many citizens, but particularly the disadvantaged,
in the position of desiring unreachable goals. The cultural emphasis on success,
moreover, diminishes the power of institutional norms to regulate behavior. And as such,
illegitimate opportunity neighborhood structures such as gangs or some established
criminal enterprises and criminal mentors are perpetuated in such neighborhoods to assist
youths in becoming successful criminals. Accordingly, juveniles often turn to street

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offending as a means of survival and as means of meeting societal expectations and
acceptance.
Social Environment
Recent studies have shown that the presence of delinquent peers has a greater
influence on later violence in adolescence than on early development (Taylor et al.,
2011). Taylor et al. reemphasized that close association with delinquent peers is strongly
and consistently related to delinquency, “because delinquent peers provide positive
reinforcement” (p. 76); and consistent definitions and redefinitions to delinquent
behavior. Peers represent the intimate setting within which delinquent impulses are
transmitted and generated (Matza, 1964, p. 19).
The analysis of casual observation conducted by this study is consistent with the
traditional saying “Birds of a feather flock together’’ (Glueck & Glueck, 1950;
Goffredson and Hirschi, 1990, Kubrin et al., 2009). Siegel and Welsh (2011) noted that
“anti-social adolescents seek out like-minded peers for criminal associations and to
conduct criminal transactions. If delinquency is committed in groups, it is because “birds
of a feather flock together” (p. 200). On the streets, children were observed living
together in small but different groups that could be characterized as gangs. In these small
but different groups, children learn good and bad behaviors from each other; while the
inferior imitates the superior (Tarde, 1972). Studies have shown that there is direct and
positive association between delinquent peers’ influence and juvenile offending during an
individual’s adolescence than they do earlier in development (Moffitt, 1993). Juveniles on
the street offend because they differentially learn unconventional behavior on the street in
close association with their peers (Sutherland, 1939), especially those who provide them

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with the support, assurance, direction and protections that society’s social institutions
could not provide for them. In other words, delinquent street children cause law abiding
children that gravitate to the street to offend or get in trouble
The Concept of the Iroko Tree
As I observed as usual in the marketplace one night, I had a very unique
experience. I noticed that there was a big tall tree in the center of the marketplace. The
tree has been there but I have never really noticed it till that night. My tribe in Africa, the
Bini tribe of Nigeria, has a name for this big tall tree. It calls it Uloko (Iroko) tree. To my
people, the Iroko tree is the king of all trees. What is unique about the tree is that it stands
tall, huge and alone usually in the middle of the thick forest. As I sat under it, I noticed
that all kinds of birds were flying and perching on it. Without any form of resistance, the
Iroko tree does not discriminate; it virtually accepts and accommodates all the various
kinds of birds that come to it- the good, the bad; the beautiful and the ugly. Looking at the
birds as they arranged themselves in the branches of the Iroko tree, it presents a picture of
a rainbow – red, black, blue, white, yellow and black. Another unique feature of the
Iroko tree as I observed is that the birds of the same kinds whether by the colors of their
feathers or other features stayed together. They hardly mixed with other birds that are
different from their kind. Moreover, whenever, they did, there were frictions. An
interesting phenomenon about the Iroko tree is that it does not produce any fruit, so every
inhabitant of the tree must travel out of the tree to look for food elsewhere. The Iroko tree
is so big that when a bird flies into it, one of two things happens: 1) it gets lost and found
by other bigger birds, it get killed and eaten. 2) It finds its kind and becomes a part of it.
The tree has no way of regularizing or controlling behavior either. So, the new inhabitant

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must act, learning and imitating the older members of its kind. Children for example,
learn complex sequences of behavior by observing and by doing. They form habitual
programs of behavior. And as the patterns of aggression repeat, they are encoded and
strengthened by rehearsals, thus becoming more accessible in the future (Fiske, 2010, p.
378). Tarde (1912) argued that all the important acts of social life (including aggression)
are carried out under the domination of imitation - modeling. That ‘’men imitate one
another in proportion as they are in close contact’’ and that the ‘’inferior imitates the
superior’’ (p. 295).
This is consistent with the axiom, “Birds of a feather flock together” (Glueck &
Glueck, 1950; Goffredson and Hirschi, 1990, Kubrin et al., 2009). The world is like a
forest, and the street or the marketplace is like the big tall Iroko tree in the forest. Like the
Iroko tree, the street does not discriminate against anyone that comes to it. So the street
takes in any child and places him or her in his or her own kind without discrimination.
And while the child is on the street, he or she finds his or her kind (water finds its own
level) and his or her kind becomes his or her community. As May (1972) put it,
A community is where I can accept my own loneliness, distinguishing between
that part of it which can be overcome and that part of it which is inescapable. Community
is the group in which I can depend upon my fellows to support me; it is partially the
source of my physical courage in that, knowing I can depend on others. I guarantee that
they also can depend on me. A community is where my moral courage, consisting of
standing against members of my own community is supported even by those I stand
against (p.248).

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Moreover, because the child has been failed by the social institutions put in place
to help nurture him or her to adulthood and society’s ways of life, he or she is left only to
seek the social order that the street offers. And when the child finds it, he or she puts his
or her hopes, dreams, and aspirations on it as if his or her depends on it. The irony of this
though, is that the street was not designed with the infrastructure or the know-how for
such wholesome responsibility. Consequently, gangs emerge in such circumstances to
provide alternative social order in response, “a sort of Hobbesian order characterized by
social Darwinist principles” (Sheldon, Tracy, & Brown, 2001, p.62; Jankowski) seeking
to improve the competitive advantage of these children in obtaining resources, not
necessarily to live in an orderly society but to “just live” in the world in which they are
born into. While with their kind and in their world, they are differentially socialized into
the ways of the gang or the street, because that is all that they know and nothing else. For
many adolescents, their encounters with their own kind (community) and gang violence
influence their behaviors (Barkin & DuRant, 2001; DuRant et al., 2000; DuRant,
Cadenhead, et al., 1994; DuRant, Pendergrast, et al., 1994; DuRant et al., 1996; Ho,
2008). According to Sutherland, delinquency is more or less a group phenomenon in that
juveniles are most likely to offend in company of close friends whose values and
behaviors are similar to their own. (Glueck & Glueck, 1950; Sutherland, 1937; Vold,
Bernard, & Snipes, 1998). “Delinquency causes delinquency friend but delinquency
friends do not cause delinquency” (Vold, Bernard, & Snipes, 1998). Use of violence,
intent to use violence, and aggression, all of which are termed externalizing behaviors,
have all been associated with adolescents’ exposure to community violence. Therefore,
street children offend, not necessarily because they intentionally want to offend, but they

159

offend because that is the only way that they know how to survive in their lonely and
helpless world.
Bonger (1969) argued that the poor offend out of the need or a sense of injustice;
they have suffered in the hands of their oppressors. He contended that, it is best to state
that the poor has been demoralized, frustrated and alienated. Consequently, juvenile
offending becomes their destructive means of escaping the capitalists’ oppressive
crushing powers. To think of it, offending and defiance are essentially ways that the poor
can react against the oppressive and dehumanizing forces of capitalism by destroying the
moral fabric and the good name of society. The typical street child offends to survive in
such an unequal, diverse, and competitive world where he or she is marginalized,
powerless, hopeless, and unappreciated as a human being. Hopelessness is like madness.
It brings out the foolishness in humans. It is this foolishness or the lack of forethought
that the street provides and the desire to prove “oneself’ significant at all cost that
becomes a risk factor to delinquency.
Rollo May (1972) claims that the state of powerlessness is the state of no
significance to others. It breeds apathy, impotence, hopelessness, and violence. Violence
is the expression of impotence and hopelessness. In the actual sense of it, the individual
that is powerless feels the sense of being beset, beleaguered, hopeless, persecuted and
heavily burdened by it (p. 21). May (1998) contended that as society makes people
powerless, it promotes their violence rather than control them. According to him, the state
of powerlessness which eventually leads to apathy and which can be produced by
discarding those values essential to our humanity for the uprooting of aggression is the
source of violence.

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Directions for Future Research
This study identifies that not much work has been done in the area of literature
and empirical studies to unravel the background characteristics of the street children in
Nigeria. Some scholars have argued that researchers cannot rely on the official statistical
data compiled by the relevant agencies of government of Nigeria as they are not readily
available or grossly inadequate when and where they are available. More research needs
to be done on street children. Although, the overall findings of the current study add to
the growing body of knowledge in the field of juvenile justice, this study acknowledges
several limitations. First, the sample was 300 and the data were not randomly collected
from several or diverse groups of street children from different parts of Nigeria. Instead,
the study utilized a set of secondary data obtained from a single youth center in Nigeria.
Moreover, the data were not collected purposely for the sake of this study and the data
were not randomly collected over a long period of time. This makes the demographic
characteristics of sample used in this study, unrepresentative of the general population of
street children in Nigeria.
Scholars have often argued that casual observations are frequently inaccurate;
because people tend to observe selectively. It is customary therefore, to social science
scholars that they do not generalize to a large population on the basis of a few limited
observations; especially when the data collection did not involve the use of a random
sampling technique. This study did not and cannot be used to generalize to a larger
population of street children..
Future studies should therefore, seek to remedy these limitations in any attempt to
replicate the study by using large data primarily collected over a period of time and for

161

the purpose of the study. A longitudinal (trend) study designed to permit several
observations of changes within some general population of street children in various
youth centers and market places in Nigeria over an extended period of time would be
worthwhile. In addition, the overall results of this study suggest a number of directions
for future research aimed at explaining the relationship between demographics, family
context, and juvenile offending among them.
The study brings to light how the social and economic conditions that people find
themselves in can influence who they are, what they become and how they survive in that
same world. In the field of juvenile justice, scholars are usually confronted with the
question “is a general theory of crime possible? The concept of the street children
provides the ample opportunities for researches into that subject matter. A study of the
phenomenon of street children could lead to a series of other studies on the phenomenon.
Conclusion
Where were the caring family members, helpful friends, concerned teachers,
and supportive social workers when that criminal was a child being abused and
neglected? Who loved that child? Who educated that child so that he or she could
succeed in this world? Who did violence to that child by relegating him or her to
poverty and then hating that child because he or she was poor? Generally speaking,
Children who are loved and cared for do not become criminals.
- Grant (2006)
The purpose of this study was to describe the street children in Benin City,
Nigeria and his or her circumstances. Consistent with the literature and previous studies
on the demographic and social characteristics of juvenile offending and profiling the

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typical juvenile offender, this study revealed that the typical street child likely to offend
in Nigeria is most likely to be a male of approximately 14 years of age, most likely to
come from a non-religious, no parent family structure (than two-parents family structure)
background, and most likely to be an illiterate.
An interesting finding of this study is that it presents significant relationships
between the family structure, level of education, religious affiliations and juvenile
offending among street children. Family, education, economy and government are social
institutions that are found in almost all societies. These social institutions are usually
responsible for the socialization and social control of the new generations. When any of
these institutions is dysfunctional, something is not just wrong, everything is wrong.
Like the virus that destroys and kills the organism, juvenile offending destroys the
values, sense of safety, direction, and security of a society. It is crucial that political
structures pay serious attention to the serious problems that juvenile offending among
street children creates. Any political structure or society that underestimates the
importance of dealing with or finding solutions to the multi-faceted, multi-cultural social
problem that has besieged the world like a colossus is not merely waiting for a train that
will not arrive but is in a wrong station.

Recommendations
Nobody wants to kiss when they are hungry.
-

Dorothea Dix, 1802-1887

Juvenile offending among street children in Nigeria has become a major sociopolitical issue demanding immediate policy attention. In recent times, the phenomenon

163

has assumed an imaginary and alarming magnitude with millions of street children
engaging in it.
Based on the findings of this study, governments and communities with street
children must address the following with utmost sincerity and urgently.
Quality of Life of Street Children. The Republic of Nigeria is a country abundant in
both human and natural resources. Specifically, it is rich in vast oil reserves. The U.S
Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated the Nigeria's proven oil reserves at
37.2 billion barrels with a daily production capability of over 3 million barrels (U.S. EIA,
2011). According to the report, the country occupies the tenth position among the most
petroleum rich countries of the world and by the far the most populous and affluent in
Africa. In addition to oil, Nigeria holds the largest natural gas reserves in the continent of
Africa (U.S. EIA, 2011). Yet, with an estimated population of about 163 million people,
over 112.5 million Nigeria live in relatively poverty conditions (Onuba, 2012 citing
NBS).
In a world of so much affluence, it is ironic and unimaginable, that certain
children of the world should sleep in stairways, under bridges, abandoned and dilapidated
building, market places, underground tunnels, broken down neighborhoods; eat from
garbage cans and dumps; suffer from various medical afflictions, and be exposed to so
much brutality, cruelty, and exploitation.
The study therefore, recommends that the governments of Nigeria and countries
of the world with similar problems must invest on human capital and if a little proportion
of the money countries spend on unnecessary wars and other trivialities is directed
towards addressing the plights of the street children, maybe the world would be a better

164

place for everyone – the street children would live well and the rest of the citizens would
live with less fear of crime.
Social structuralism assumes and portrays the offender as the product of his or her
social environment; and his or her immediate social environment as a consequence of the
structure of society to which the offender belongs. As Kubrin and colleagues (2009)
argued about U.S cities: “it is incorrect to state that the residents of a neighborhood are
disorganized. One must argue that the community in which they reside is disorganized.
…social disorganization is not a kind of people but a kind of place” (p.89).
This study presupposed therefore that if society is the disease that has afflicted,
the children on the street, then, the children of the street must be cured of society.
Consequently, the study argued that if society must change the rate of offending in the
society, society must first change itself. Kelling and Coles (1997) explained that, when a
window is broken, it is usually better to fix it. If our streets, market places and
neighborhoods are disorganized and disruptive, it is the responsibility of a good
government to make them socially organized and orderly; if structured inequality
resulting from the exploitations of the “Have nots” by the “Have”, it is logical that
society finds a way of redistributing its excesses equitably among its citizens for the sake
of peace and order; and most precisely, if denial of legitimate opportunity produces the
types of strains that cause juvenile offending or crime, then, it is only rational that to find
the answer to the problem of such offending is to extend legitimate opportunities to those
in the lower cadre of people in society.
This study assumes the humanistic view on juveniles’ rights which presupposes
that children are humans like all humans; their status as children or their age should not

165

cause them to lose their fundamental unalienable human rights to life, liberty, and
happiness. “By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness
are pains and the privation of pleasure” (Mills, 1987, p. 276; Ciulla, 2003). The United
Nations Commission on Human Rights in its preamble to its 1948 “Universal Declaration
of Human Rights” wrote: “Whereas, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal
and inalienable rights of all members of the human family (regardless of age) is the
foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world” (Ciulla, 2003, p. 257).
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, a child has a variety of
rights which include: the right to life, the right to a name and to acquire a nationality, the
right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,
the right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family,
home or correspondence and the right to the enjoyment of the highest actionable standard
of health (Echono & Karuri, 2013).
In 2003, the Nigerian Government in collaboration with the International Labor
Organization adopted and launched the Federal Child Rights Act of 2003, which codifies
the rights of all children in Nigeria. The minimum age of employment in Nigeria
according to this act is 14 (UNICEF, 2007; USDOL, 2010). This legislation was designed
to eliminate child labor and to protect children against exploitative work and the use of
children for prostitution and armed conflict. The law also prohibits the use of children in
street hawking and begging. Accordingly, the Federal Child Rights Act of 2003
superseded the Government of Nigeria, Labor Act (Chapter 198, No. 21), Federal Labor
Act of 1990 which established the minimum age of employment as 12, permitting
children at any age to do light work in domestic service or work alongside a family

166

member in agriculture or horticulture (UNICEF, 2007; USDOL, 2010). In addition, the
constitution of Nigeria prohibits forced labor, slavery, and involuntary servitudes
In spite of the fact that all these laws are in the books, the government of Nigeria
lacks legal and policy network to enforce these laws. Personal observation and
experiences reveal that the high level of illiteracy, the ignorance and corrupt practices of
the law-enforcement agents and government officers; and the involvement of the
“politically and economically powerful” (the Haves) in the business of enslaving these
children, make it almost impossible to enforce related laws in Nigeria. The United States
Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs 2010’s report on Nigeria
indicates that although, the Child Rights Act imposes strict penalties for abuses and
violations of these acts; studies have found no evidence that the government of Nigeria
has established any institutional mechanism for coordinating and enforcing these laws
(USDOL, 2010).
In Nigeria, for example, the rights of poor children are constantly abused.
UNICEF, Nigeria (2006) declared that the number of working children in Nigeria under
the age of 14 is estimated at about 15 million. According to the organization, child labor
is work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to
children. The United States Department of Labor (2010) reported that children in Nigeria
engage in the worst forms of child labor in world. The children who work in agriculture,
use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, work long hours for little or no pay. Domestic
servants and hawkers on the streets are usually exposed to physical and sexual abuse by
their masters and prospective buyers of their goods and services (Lawal, & Akintayo,
2007; American Embassy, 2008). The danger in child labor for example is that it exposes

167

children to all sorts of dangerous situations and it deprives children of opportunities for
schooling and development.
The welfare, safety and security of children should be the primary responsibility
of good and effective government. After all, the legendary English doctrine of parens
patriae for which Nigerian government subscribed to when it joined the Commonwealth
of nations in 1961 dictates that the state had the obligation to act in loco parentis (in place
of a parent) in best interest of the child when the natural parent was not capable or worthy
of the task. Consequently, governments of Nigeria should put in place effective
mechanism for proper coordination and enforcement of appropriate laws and policies
relative to Child Labor and Child Rights Acts. The punishments for the violation of these
acts should be made severe enough to deter would-be perpetrators and abusers of
children. The government of Nigeria at all level should not just make the laws but must
also see to it that the laws are enforced.
Consistent with the literature and previous studies on street children, the current
study found that majority of the children on and of the street do not go to school, so
majority of the children are functional illiterates with no basic skills to help them get
proper jobs or function outside the box. According to the UNICEF (2006), about six
million working children in Nigeria do not go to school at all, while over one million
children are forced to drop out of school as a result of poverty or because of parents’
demand to contribute to the family income. The organization further reported that
working children have no time, money, and energy to go to school; and when they miss
out of school, they miss out on having a better, productive and a safer life.

168

UNICEF (2006) explained that education is a fundamental human right. Every
child in every country of the world is entitled to it. Invariably, education helps to lay
concrete foundation to a successful and productive future. Decreasing illiteracy rates
among street children through knowledge is one of the ways a society can invest in
human capital, get children off the streets and a major key to reducing the rate of juvenile
offending among street children. Consequently, any investment on education is an
investment against crime. Studies have indicated that people who pursue education are
less likely to offend and more likely to succeed in various aspects of life. Knepper (2007)
noted that education represents the single most important social policy investment in
overcoming social disadvantage.
The casual observation of street children revealed that these children need food,
shelter, clothing, education or vocational training and some forms of adult mentoring.
This study recommends that the government of Nigeria must set in motion policies
directed towards the provision of these basic necessities of life to the children of the
streets.

169

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