DEALING WITH DEVIANT BEHAVIOURS – By Chris Ebo Duruegbusoaku

In spite of the big dreams usually nursed by many youths today, a good number of them are facing several challenges and even getting into diverse troubles. No matter where they are found, there are always lots of pressures for the youths to deal with among friends, family and the larger society. For some of the youths, the pressures emanate from such unwholesome conditions like poverty, violence and other associated issues around them, including even parental problems and the various gangs they may have got themselves entangled with. Youths may also be concerned and have questions arising from their inability to fully grasp the significance of such issues like religion, gender roles, values or ethnicity.

Some of them (youths) may equally be having difficulties dealing with the past traumas they had experienced, which may have arisen, for instance, from the abuses they had suffered either from strangers or even relatives. There is equally the endless struggle between teenagers and their parents. This is usually because many of them tend to think that they require greater independence to explore their world when in fact they still need parental guidance. These conflicts may sometimes result in behavior problems which might in some cases degenerate and eventually abort the great dreams of some of the youths. There is need therefore to create awareness on the menace of deviant behaviors which have impeded and continues to hamper the progress of countless young people out there.

Deviances in youths manifest themselves through diverse vices like – shoplifting, truancy, fighting at school or other places, immoral acts, drug or alcohol ingestion, indulging in unhealthy entertainment, etc. Sometimes, these youths are unable to explain why they find this unwholesome conducts attractive. The adults who ought to help them understand and seek ways out of their predicaments may even be as confused as the youths themselves. Several youths even consider the vices they are manifesting as appropriate ways of dealing with some of the experiences they are grappling with. Naturally, when these youths misbehave, their parents and loved ones feel scared, angry, frustrated or hopeless, and in the process may not be able to evolve adequate responses to the situation. Even the misbehaving youths may later begin to feel guilty, wondering where they had gone wrong, and why their conducts (which they naively consider harmless) are provoking such kinds of reactions. These are feelings that are expected in the course of human development, but what is important is that those concerned should understand that there is help available to troubled youths and their families.

In this maiden contribution to this column, an attempt will be made to explain the sources of deviant behaviors and ways of resolving them.
~ SOURCES OF DEVIANT BEHAVIORS AND HOW TO RESOLVE THEM
Self-control is an individual characteristic that is established early in life and lack of it accounts for the deviant behaviors we witness in several young people and even adults. Self-control can be achieved through strong attachments to social foundations such as family, church, school or community. These social bonds possess the capacity to influence the level and extent of deviance somebody could engage in. It must be pointed out that people engage in unacceptable behaviors (like stealing, for instance) because of the immediate gratification they offer. In many cases, it only requires just a little time to think it over, and often does not have a long term goal which would require long waiting before it materializes. These results are appealing to children with low self-control or self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to set goals and apply the necessary effort and discipline to achieve them, refrain from problematic behaviors that might threaten them, and focus on long term goals that yield more beneficial and lasting ends. But a trend among adolescents is inability to maintain goals or restrain their behaviors without guidance. This inability to control challenging tendencies will influence the child to partake in deviant activities.

What is known as the social disorganization theory has tried to enhance our understanding of why adolescents partake in unhealthy conducts. The main thrust of this theory is that high rates of deviancy are witnessed when a community’s informal social control within the family and society deteriorates through negligence or condoning of resistance against correction by young people. This theory stresses the merits of community social control, as espoused in the African proverb that says that it takes a village to raise a child.

Parents are deemed to be the first models their children encounter in life. Research has shown that when parents are held in high esteem and are the main sources of inspiration for their children, those kids are more likely to model their lives after them. But negative attitudes by parents are more likely to be emulated by their children. And this will in the long run affect the rest of the society. Once their children begin to grow, it is normal for parents to begin to mould and shape their behaviors to conform to the norms of society. This demands that teenagers or young adults who are usually inclined to resisting parental controls on the grounds that they now feel grown-up and reasonable, or even supposedly possess more knowledge for self-direction, should resist such tendency and accept with delight parental control which most of the time is for their own good.

It has been observed that there are certain parenting techniques that tend to have greater impact on the child’s behavior than others; the most effective is “parental support” which consists of those positive attitudes toward the child, such as praising, encouraging and showing of affection, which build their self-confidence. These make the child the child to feel valued and loved. In multiple studies, it has been found that support from parents bonds the adolescent to institutions and builds their self-control. This building of self-control will impede the development of deviant behaviors and create in the child a positive personality. However, in today’s world good family bonding is speedily giving way for single or no parenting largely as a result of parents not being available to nurture their children due to divorce in some cases or outright decision of some not to be in husband/wife family structure, thus providing incentive to an ever increasing tendency to yield to unacceptable lifestyle.

For youths growing up in such environments without adequate parental support or under the kind of deviant parenting where unacceptable conducts are tolerated (or even promoted), experienced pastors of a church like the Watchman Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement can constitute a pool of alternative and reliable mentors outside the home; these are people whom they would be able to trust enough to disclose their plight and have them give them proper, godly guidance that would put them on the path of rectitude and lay for them the requisite foundation for growing into responsible members of the society and future leaders. And for this to work very well, the concerned youth must happily yield to effective discipline, monitoring and problem-solving techniques provided for their own good by these their self-adopted parents. Consistent discipline must be ensured at the sighting of deviant behavior in order to prevent their development. Every rewarding lifestyle would always require conscientious efforts to build. Youths who are determined to defeat deviances must invest time and energy to put into practice what they heard during church meetings, from parents and pastors.

When adolescents are distinguished by unwholesome conducts, what may happen is that they are most likely to be rejected by conventional peers causing them to drift into associations with deviant peers. And when this happens, and the concerned adolescent ceases to be restrained by the opinions of parents, teachers, pastors and conventional peers, his new deviant friends would encourage and reinforce him to participate in deviant behaviors. It is known that deviant friends happily accept each other and their deviant actions. The age at which adolescent begins associating with deviant peers influences the level of delinquency he might participate in. Every youth should carefully select the social group he wants to be associated with, as birds of the same feather always flock together. For Christian youths and those desirous of leading responsible lives, the best company available to them is other Christian youths, and they must endeavor to participate actively in the activities of the Youth Church. One cannot be different from the kind of friends one keeps.

Support for social learning has generated important implications for resolving deviancy. From a social learning perspective, deviant and criminal conducts are learned and sustained via associations with family and peer networks. If one agrees that this is the source of such behavior, then it follows that these behaviors could be modified to the extent that one is able to manipulate those same processes or the environmental contingencies that precipitate them early enough.

From this perspective, policy-makers should focus on developing and implementing preventive and rehabilitative programmes that use social learning variables to change behavior in a positive direction. Examples of programmes guided by social learning principles include mentoring, peer counseling and group interventions. The idea behind some of these types of programmes is that providing Watchman Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) as a means of fostering good and productive social integration for overall development of our young ones.

It is however noteworthy here that the deviancies in persons and the world at large today, basically derives from deviations from our Creator’s originally drawn patterns of living in the world He created and put us in. Some parents themselves departing from these patterns established by our universal Father have gone ahead to lay foundation for a society that has become depraved and deviated from the original purpose of the Creator (Acts. 17:24-31).

Anyone who cares about fulfillment in life should first get back to God as the foundation of life, seek out His pattern in the areas of their concerns, and live by them, for in Him we live, move and have our being. Youths should desist from quickly seeking absolute freedom in the midst of ignorance, which is suicidal. They should rather make up their minds to be the best of what God designed them to be under the guidance of God’s word and their Godly parents (Prov. 6:20-23, 27 & 28; Isa. 8:12-20).

~ Chris Ebo Duruegbusoaku, Ph.D., is the WCCRM Diocesan Pastor of Ilorin and the Director, WCCRM Missions.

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The Mysterious Snail

A man was sitting in his house when he heard a tapping on the door. He went to see who it was. He opened the door and looked around, he then heard a tiny voice, “hey mister, could you lend me 10 bucks?”

The man looked down and saw a snail sitting on his doorstep. He said, “What do you want?”

The snail said, “Could you lend me 10 bucks?”

The man yelled, “Get out of here!” and then kicked the snail off the doorstep.

About a year later, the man hears a tapping on his door. He goes out to see who it is, he looks around and saw the same snail and the snail in a tiny voice say, “why did you kick me like that?”

THE LAWYER’S REVENGE

A lawyer’s dog, running about unleashed, headed for the local butcher’s shop and steals a roast off the counter.

The butcher goes to the lawyer’s office and asks, “if a dog, running unleashed steals a piece a piece of meat from my store, do I have the right to demand payment for the meat from the dog’s owner?” “Absolutely”, the lawyer responded.

The butcher immediately shot back, “Good! You owe me $7.99 for the roast your dog stole from me this morning.”

The lawyer, without a word, writes the butcher a check for $7.99.

A few days later, the butcher browsing through his mail, finds an envelope from the lawyer.

The content reads “For your Consultation: $25.00.”

A PLEA FROM A POCKET’S LAWYER

A pick pocket was up in court for a series of petty crimes. The judge said, “Sir, you are hereby fined $100”.

His lawyer stood up and said, “Thanks your honour, however my client only has $75 on him at this time, but if you’d allow him a few minutes in the crowd… I’m sure he would be able to gather up enough to pay the fine.”

The Truth Test

Four college friends were so confident that the weekend before their final exams, they decided to go up to Dallas and party with some friends up there. They had a great time. However, after all the partying, they slept and rested all day on Sunday and didn’t make it back to Austin until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final exam, they decided to find their professor after the final exam and explain to him why they missed it. They explained that they had gone to Dallas for the weekend with the plan to come back and study but, unfortunately they had a flat tyre on the way back, didn’t have a spare, and couldn’t get help for a long time. As a result, they missed the exam.

The professor thought it over and then agreed they could make up the final exam the following day. The guys were elated and relieved.

They studied that night and went in the next day at the time the professor had told them. He placed them in seperate rooms and handed each of them the exams booklet and told them to begin.

They looked at the first question, with 5-marks. It was something simple about Free Radical Formation. “Cool”, they thought at the same time, each one in his seperate room. “This is going to be really easy!”

Each finished the first question and turned the page. On the second page the question reads: WHICH TYRE?

Police

POLICE: where do you live?
ME: with my parents.
POLICE: where does your parents live?
ME: with me.
POLICE: where do you all live?
ME: together.
POLICE: am not joking!! where’s your house?!
ME: ok! Next to my neighbour’s house.
POLICE: where the hell is your neighbour’s house??!!
ME: if I tell you, you won’t believe me.
POLICE: tell me.
ME: next to my house.