Interest in children who have conduct disorders has heightened in recent years because of the significant increase in the prevalence of deviant behaviour among students. Conduct disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated (American Psychological Association, 2000). In Nigeria, students with conduct disorders engage in deviant behaviours such as aggression, peer cruelty, fighting, bullying or threatening others, pilfering, rioting, stealing, truancy, substance abuse, raping, smoking, lateness, falsification of results, violation of rules and regulations, assault of both students and teachers, vandalisation of school property, sexual offences and even murder (Okonkwo, 2001; Iheanacho, 2001; Udochukwu, 2001; Kemjika & Woruka 1998; & Ogoke, 1990).
According to Anokam (2002), the prevalence of conduct disorder among Nigerian adolescents has increased in the last three years in terms of frequency of recorded delinquent crimes and number of adolescents involved. Okonkwo, Ezeani and Nwagbo (1999) also reported that 60% of persons arrested in Nigeria for crimes of violence, armed robbery, substance abuse, and arson were juveniles. Cult activities remain near their highest rate with the well-publicised occurrences of multiple killings, robbery, maiming, raping and destruction of properties in many institutions of higher learning. These reports make one to wonder about the causative factors.
A synthesis of theories of family influences indicates that families exert a major influence on children’s personal development (Grolnick, Kourowski, & Gurland, 1999). This is not surprising given the number of hours young children spend with their families each day. Given that the family lays the foundation for socialisation and stabilisation of adult personality (Ekwonwa, 2001), and parents have the primary responsibility of raising and teaching their
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