Annals of Ibadan Postgraduate Medicine

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Children within the Juvenile Justice System in Nigeria: Psychopathology and Psychosocial Needs

TT Bella, O Atilola, OO Omigbodun


Background: Many children in Nigeria face a life of poverty, family instability, inadequate educational opportunities and poor physical and
mental health which hinder their ability to develop into healthy adults, live an improved quality of life or fulfil their life aspirations. These factors have also been associated with juvenile delinquency and need for institutional care.
Objectives: As a step toward providing comprehensive services for incarcerated children in Nigeria, this study aimed to identify the psychosocial needs as well as types of psychopathology among a group
of incarcerated children at the Ibadan remand home.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of children and adolescents at the Ibadan remand home was carried out using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Results: A total of 59 children were assessed over a one year period. Majority (90%) were in need of care and protection. All (100%) had significant psychosocial needs presenting as difficulty with their primary
support, economic, social environment, or educational systems. Majority (97%) also demonstrated significant psychopathology and anxiety, suicidal and depressive symptoms were the most commonly elicited.

Conclusions: Incarcerated children in this study showed significant mental health needs which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. This should be carried out through the collaborative efforts of mental health professionals with various stakeholders in child care.

Keywords: Children, Psychopathology, Psychosocial, Nigeria, Juvenile
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