Failed Family, Failed Society

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A typical Nigerian family
A typical Nigerian family

Sociologists agree that the increase in social vices among youths in Nigeria is the direct result of the failure of the family system

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jul. 1, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

MANY decades ago, family was regarded as the bedrock of the society, but today the reverse is the case. The falling standard of the family system has contributed to the breakdown of societal norms and values, and increased social vices among the youths. This present trend has made people to ask questions on the state of the family.

The decadence in the family today, according to sociologists, is traceable to poverty, inadequate income, insufficient basic social services, migration and urbanisation. Concern over the apparent failure of the family has prompted religious institutions, non-governmental organisations, in collaboration with the United Nations to dedicate some days to the family. In Nigeria, many churches dedicate special days to celebrate Mothers and Fathers, in order to remind them of their roles in the family and also create awareness on issues relating to the family. The UN, on its part, has set aside May 15, of every year as the International Day of the Family. According to the UN, the day is set aside to seek knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes that affect families.

Children hawking in Lagos
Children hawking in Lagos

Steven Alumona, a sociologist and lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Awka, said the family values, culture and traditions have been thrown to the winds ever since parents abandoned their roles in the family for the pursuit of wealth. According to him, there are no ethics anymore as those that should serve as mentors and role models to the younger ones have no time for such. He said that the sense of cohesion and a feeling of having a family support group is no more there and no one is interested in guiding the younger ones aright any longer. He declared: “Not the family, not the community which itself is beginning to disintegrate, and unfortunately not the last frontier, the religious establishment that is fraught with moral problems.

“From the family, schools, media, religious institutions, governments and their various agencies are all sick and therefore require urgent attention. For instance; the child learns to play appropriate roles and acquires abilities and modes of response that enable him to participate in social life in the larger society from the family. The personality is shaped and the cultural demands and expectations are transmitted at the level of the family. But many families had failed in this primary role given to them by God almighty to help raise responsible children who will be of help to the larger society. If the family is playing its role of child rearing, many cases of drug-addiction and other crimes will reduce considerably and the nation will be the better for it.”

According to Alumona, most families have failed and the burden of their irresponsibility is felt by the society. “Most armed robbers, kidnappers, terrorists and other criminal elements are products of a failed family system. Children from broken homes, unwanted pregnancy, irresponsible parenting and over pampered children form the largest percentage of those involved in criminal activities in our society today. The school which is also an agent of socialisation, is gradually derailing and failing to achieve its primary objective in Nigeria. Some children, who were given good training at home, tend to get themselves involved in criminal activities in the school.”

Alumona has attributed the causes of failed families to corruption, neglect of the youths and the love of material wealth. “Any nation that does not take seriously issues concerning its youths, that nation is toying with its future. That is why it becomes worrisome to some of us the way our young people have taken to crime of all kinds. When the right people are not put in charge of the right places, you certainly don’t expect the right thing to be done in such places. Our schools are taken over by criminal elements, quacks and half-baked graduates. Unprofessional attitudes are common features in our schools. The teachers who are supposed to guide the children in the right direction are the ones in most cases found in the act of destroying them. There have been cases of teachers raping their female students. There are many unreported cases of child-defilement in some of our schools in Nigeria and that alone is a sign that the system is failing,” he said.

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