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1.1       Background to the Study

Morality has to do with the attitude or behavior of man. Attitude can be cultivated; its cultivation could be personal, corporate, structural or cultural. Our perceptions, values, beliefs, lifestyles, cultural and religious practices that are deep-rooted and longstanding could be held tenaciously and easily translated into attitude that may either enhance or impede development.

Attitudes are categorized according to Guaguano, (1996) into personal, cultural and social dimensions. If any category of these attitudes and behaviours is harmful, it cannot pave the way for development unless it is changed. In the light of this, it is obvious that when these categories of attitudes are cultivated and appropriately directed, they lead to the growth and development of the individual and the larger society.

Moral attitudes put together help people in communities to live together, settle their differences, maintain peace and harmony and have cordial relationships with their environment. In African culture, the way and manner people conduct themselves matter a lot. An African child is expected to respect and obey elders, dress decently, fear God the creator and be patriotic citizens of their respective communities. That is, the African child is expected to be disciplined in all ramifications.

For any nation to experience growth and development, the youths must not be left out as they form the workforce of any nation. These youths also do not just emerge from the sky but from families. The family is the first and most important channel through which societal norms and values are transmitted to the youths right from childhood. Every member of the family has an important role to play in the task of moral up bringing of the child. For instance, parents have the responsibility of loving and providing for the needs of their family members. In the same way, children are expected to obey and respect their parents and elders.

The training which parents give to their youths from childhood matters a lot, because charity is said to begin at home. To a large extent, the moral disposition of the youths can be traced to their homes, as the character development of the children is the sole work of the parents especially the mother who spends more time with their children. Since Nigeria places much emphasis on the moral and character training of the child, no time is wasted in the commencement of the training programme of the youths. The youth in the first few years of life is more intimate with the mother than the father and that is why in most societies in Africa, when a child misbehaves, the mother is blamed. It therefore, becomes traditionally necessary that mothers should educate their young ones. Education is the aggregate of all the means by which human beings develop the necessary skills, attitudes and values that are socially acceptable (Akinbote, 1988).

Fafunwa (1974) opined that, traditional education which places emphasis on moral and character training is the corner stone of African education. Traditionally, the inculcation of appropriate and culturally approved behavioural patterns in the child is a joint responsibility among the parents and adult members of the community. However, despite the cooperative effort in the development of the child socially and emotionally, the immediate family members still carry the highest responsibility for the child’s moral upbringing. In Yoruba land for instance, the immediate family is usually attacked (verbally) when a child misbehaves publicly. Therefore, in order to prevent such insult or embarrassment, every family ensures the proper and early moral upbringing of their children.

Through practical examples and moral precepts, simple courteous behaviour such as mode of greeting and respect for adults are inculcated in the child as early as possible. Any form of mis-behaviour is appropriately punished by the parents or relations Generally, Africans cherish high degree of discipline and sense of respect for one another; hence parents(especially Christian women) do everything possible to give good moral examples to their offspring.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

There are many outcries against juvenile delinquency in the Nigerian society today. The level of indiscipline and crime waves among the youths has seriously escalated in geometric progression. Juvenile delinquency in the Nigerian society today is beyond sexual perversion. From general observations, the severity of immoral actions ranges from “simple cheating at school to drug abuse, murder and the exhibition of other anti-social behaviours. The depth of the problem has reached a point where common decency can no longer be described as common. For instance, decent people are honest and behave in a way that most people approve of, but in our society today, honesty as a virtue most especially among our youths, is not as common as it was in years past and this in one way or the other, has affected the development of the society.

Educational institutions have become comfortable dens for gangsters, cultists and prostitutes. Wearing of “decorated rags” and seductive attires has become a fad for ladies, and the virtue of virginity is becoming unthinkable and abominable. Examination malpractice, which is aided by parents and teachers, has become common place in Nigerian schools. This entails that students rely on fraudulent means to earn certificates, thereby giving little or no regard to hard work.

However, the government at all levels, non-governmental organizations, traditional leaders and religious organizations have been unrelenting in their efforts to checkmate gross juvenile delinquency in the society. Turaki (1989), has indicated that from 1975 to the present there has been an increasing national concern over the question of morality and ethics. For example,General Obasanjo’s Jaji declaration was more of a treatise on moral,political and philosophy. This declaration is a call to all Nigerians to take national morality and ethics seriously. In contrast was President Shehu Shagari Ethical Revolution, also General Buhari tried to checkmate juvenile delinquency with War Against Indiscipline(WAI)but it is sad to note that this evil still persists. These moral crises have eaten deep into the fabric of the nation and pose tremendous barrier to the moral, spiritual, social and economic development of the Nigerian populace especially the youths. Kumuyi (2001) observed that the problem of juvenile delinquency among the youths is mainly caused by carelessness and negligence of parents most especially the mothers. The gravity of the issue of juvenile delinquency has motivated the researcher to examine the role of Christian Religious Studies in addressing these moral crises among youths in Ebonyi State.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

This research aims at examining the role of Christian Religious Studies in curbing immoral acts prevalent among the youths in Ebonyi State. Specifically, the study seeks to achieve its aims through the following objectives which are to:

  1. Critically examine the various perceived causes of juvenile delinquency among the youths in Ebonyi State.
  2. Determine the negative influence of juvenile delinquency on the lives and development of the youths especially in Ebonyi State.
  3. Critically examine and analyze some of the programmes and activities put in place by Christian Religious Studies in Ebonyi State to checkmate moral crises among the youths.
  4. Critically examine the impact of Christian mothers on the lives of the young ones.

1.4       Significance of the Study

This study is significant in the following ways:

First, moral crisis is a deadly problem in the Nigerian society and efforts are being put in place by governments and different organizations and even international organizations to checkmate the problem of juvenile delinquency in the society. This research therefore, seeks to contribute to this aspect by taking a survey of what women especially Christian Religious Studies are doing to resolve this moral crisis associated with the youths in Nigerian.

Secondly, it seeks to contribute to the pool of literature that has been generated about the role of women in the society and serve as a resource or reference material to others who may want to undertake further research in this area.

Thirdly, the research is expected to chart a path for the critical appraisal of the central role of women in the society apart from their traditional roles in the family. This is because God created the woman to play multiple roles and imbued her with divine power of transformation. Finally the study is expected to serve as a source of encouragement to women in the society, as this will enable them to know that their efforts, no matter how little, are not in vain.

1.5       Research Questions

This study attempts to provide answers to the following research questions:

  1. What are the various perceived causes of juvenile delinquency among the youths in Ebonyi State?
  2. What are the negative influences of juvenile delinquency on the lives and development of the youths in Ebonyi State?
  3. What are the various programmes of events and activities put in place by Christian Religious Studies in Ebonyi State to curb moral crises among the youths?
  4. What are the roles of Christian Religious Studies in the lives of the youths?

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