An investigation into the socio-economic factors leading to juvenile delinquency in Nairobi, Kenya
Otunge, Jacynter Achieng
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The major purpose of this study was to investigate the socio-economic factors leading to juvenile delinquency in Nairobi, Kenya. The study was also aimed at finding out the measures that can be taken to intervene and measures that can be taken to curb the delinquency problem. A cross-sectional survey design was used in the study. The study subjects consisted of 120 juveniles aged between 7 and 18 years drawn from the rehabilitation centers and institutions such as Getathuru, Nairobi Children's Remand Home and Dagoreti Girls Rehabilitation Centre. Also included were 12 social workers and 3 managers from the selected rehabilitation centres. Stratified random sampling procedure was used to derive the sample. Data were collected for a period of one month using interviews and questionnaires consisting of both open and closed ended questions. Observation of the street children, children at the rehabilitation centres and admission records was used. Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) after which descriptive statistics were presented in tables of frequency distributions and percentages. The results indicated that Juvenile delinquency is brought about by a number of interacting variables being led by the family socio-economic status. The leading variables in the family background is the issue of broken home after which children are mostly left under the care of their poor single mothers, grandparents and other relatives who can neither adequately cater for them nor supervise and property guide them. Other family factors such as teenage parenthood, large family size, parenting skills, parental education and maltreatment of children equally play an important role. It was discovered that family factors such as sibling conflict and contagion effect do not have a lot of influence on juveniles' delinquent behaviours. Other variables to be having influence were the school, peer group, neighbourhoods and mass media. The results from the study also indicated the importance of economic factors such as poverty and unemployment, which have caused financial hardship to the families concerned. This situation has led to lack of the basic needs forcing some delinquents to resort to delinquent crime such as a theft to try and obtain what they need. Prevention and treatment lie a lot with poverty eradication, creation of employment and counseling services.