Sociology Project Topics

Effect of Cognitive Restructuring on Delinquent Behaviour Among Adolescents





Conduct disorder is a serious behavioural and emotional disorder that can occur in adolescents which triggers them to exhibit delinquent behaviours.Adolescents with this illness may exhibit a pattern of disruptive and aggressive behavior as well as difficulties obeying rules. Adolescents often have behavioral issues at some point throughout their growth. However, when the behavior is persistent and infringes on the rights of others, when it deviates from established standards of behavior, and when it interferes with the child’s or family’s daily life, it is considered a conduct disorder (Deater – Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S. 2016).

It was also said that a teenager goes through phases of biological growth as well as changes in psychological and social functioning. Developing appropriate emotions and regulating them is critical throughout adolescence. Meeting social needs, as well as reducing the negative consequences of emotions on attitudes, habits, behavior, and physical well-being, is critical, as is emotional management. Control does not imply suppression, but rather learning to handle a social situation rationally and repressing those feelings that are socially inappropriate. However, teenagers in Nigeria misbehave from time to time for a number of reasons. Perhaps they feel the need to assert their independence, or they want to test the limits that have been imposed on them.Adolescents may misbehave when they are distressed, angry, frustrated, disappointed, anxious, or hopeless. There are also people whose behavior continually causes alarm in others. In such circumstances, the teens’ behavior is plainly beyond the bounds of what is considered normal or appropriate.Perhaps most concerning is that many of them exhibit no regret, regret, or awareness of the harm and sorrow imposed on individuals as a result of their actions (Oparaduru, J. 2017).

Adolescents’ behavioral disorders or delinquency may include lying, smoking, using alcohol or drugs, engaging in early sexual engagement, skipping school, and having a greater than usual risk of suicide. Adolescents may also have various mental, emotional, or behavioral illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and others (Osorio, A., Gonzalez – Camara, M. 2015).


Delinquent behavior by teenagers, one of the key components in this research, is a behavioral problem defined by a regular pattern of causing damage to people or their property, or breaching generally accepted norms or norms of conduct.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), conduct disorder is described as a recurrent and persistent pattern of behavior that violates the rights of others, in addition to crime-related activities, or in which important age-appropriate social standards or standards are ignored. The disorder’s symptoms are divided into four major sub-scales or dimensions: aggressiveness against people and animals, property damage, deception, and substantial rule violations (Frick & Nigg, 2012 cited in Plessinger, A. 2017). Adolescents that engage in delinquent activity often see the world as hostile and dangerous. Friends and family members grow bothered by their misbehavior and get much more frustrated when they exhibit no sorrow or shame for their misdeeds. As a result, the question becomes what intervention should be used to limit this delinquent behavior; thus, among other measures, the study employs cognitive restructuring and behavior rehearsal as an effective intervention on adolescent delinquency.

Cognitive restructuring was originally developed by Albert Ellis (1989).It is a psycho-therapeutic process of learning to identify and dispute irrational or maladaptive thoughts. There are many methods used in cognitive restructuring, which usually involve identifying and labeling distorted thoughts, Socratic questioning, thought recording, identifying cognitive errors, examining the evidence (pro-con analysis or cost-benefit analysis), understanding idiosyncratic meaning/semantic techniques, retribution, guided imagery and listing rational alternatives. Thus, this seeks to examine the effect of cognitive restructuring on delinquent behaviour among adolescents.


Many rapid and turbulent changes in contemporary living have brought adolescents face to face with problems and decisions, and conditions over which adolescents and their parents have little or no control and which have made growing up today vastly different from that of ancient times. Plessinger, A. (2017) reported that social, emotional and psychological problems plague Nigerian adolescents due to neglect from parents or caregivers, coupled with the desire for independence by the adolescents which they hardly have access to. The inability of parents or caregivers to fit into the world of adolescents makes the latter frustrated, unhappy and they eventually develop inappropriate behaviours which cause problems for themselves and the larger society.

Adolescents seek individuality, try to assert their independence, while parents, on the other hand, resist the latter‘s autonomy. The struggle between parents and adolescents for these changes often leads to disobedience, arguments, conflicts and rebellion on the part of the adolescents, especially when they are forcefully brought under adult control.

Adolescents with delinquent behaviors engage in deviant behaviours such as aggression, peer cruelty, fighting, bullying or threatening others, rioting, stealing, truancy, substance abuse, raping, smoking, lateness, violation of rules and regulations, vandalization of school properties, among other things. It was also reported that the prevalence of conduct disorder among Nigerian adolescents has increased in the last three years in terms of the frequency of recorded delinquent crimes and the number of adolescents involved.

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Adolescents with behavioural disorders not only affect themselves, their families and schools negatively, but also society at large. An increase in adolescents‘ behavioural disorder has led to a leap in chaos, disorderliness, destruction of lives and property, armed robbery, terrorist activities, kidnapping, oil bunkering, and many more evils. The Nigerian government established Remand Homes (now Special Correctional Centres), Approved Schools and Juvenile Courts to address these behavioural disorders in adolescents, but mere admission of the latter is not sufficient to reduce or eradicate the conduct disorder. For adolescents with conduct disorder to be helped, there is, therefore, the need to expose them to counselling interventions in order for them to become responsible individuals to themselves and their parents, good students at school and worthy ambassadors of the nation as a whole. Various behavioural modification techniques like cognitive restructuring, self management and token economy, among others, have been used to treat rebelliousness, disorderliness, depression, anxiety, gambling, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other disruptive behaviours. As a result, this study is titled Effect Of Cognitive Restructuring On Delinquent Behavior Among Adolescents.


The main focus of this study is to examine specifically it seeks examine Effect Of Cognitive Restructuring On Delinquent Behaviour Among Adolescents. Specifically it seeks:

1. To examine subsets of delinquent behaviours among adolescent

2. To investigate if parenting styles and socio-economic status promotes adolescent delinquent behaviour

3. To examine cognitive restructuring as a therapy can help correct delinquent behavior

4. To investigate if there has been a significant effect of cognitive restructuring on correcting adolescent behaviour disorder.


The study is guided by the following research questions

1. What are the  subsets of delinquent behaviours among adolescent?

2. Does  parenting styles and socio-economic status promotes adolescent delinquent behaviour?

3. Does cognitive restructuring as a therapy help in correcting  adolescence delinquency?

4. IS there any significant effect of cognitive restructuring on correcting adolescent behaviour disorder?


Knowledge and research on adolescent delinquency may be a valuable tool for clinicians, educators and the community in understanding the development and spread of conduct disorder in order to offer preventative, intervention, and treatment programs. This research will assist both current and aspiring counselling professionals (counselors) in the following ways:

Counsellors will have a better understanding of the most effective intervention for treating conduct disorder as a result of this research.

Professional counsellors, psychologists, parents, and others in related fields will also be educated on the likely factors that can cause conduct disorder in humans, particularly adolescents, and will propose solutions to combat behavioral disorder in order for the nation as a whole to have glorious future leaders. The outcomes of this research are likely to help counsellors assist teenagers in developing self-esteem, learning new skills, and modeling good behavior. Counsellors may use the results of this research to design preventative interventions for parents or caregivers on how to decrease, and maybe eliminate, conduct disorder among teenagers in our community.

This research will also aid teachers at different educational levels. It will increase their understanding of how to instill discipline in students, set a good example, and record cases of aggressiveness, truancy, rule violations, affect disruptions, and significant distress, all of which are indicators of conduct disorder.Social workers may also use the study’s results to provide qualitative support to people, parents, and family members who come to them for aid. This research will also help the government at various levels by assisting her in enacting laws that will encourage good behavior in society, provide necessary facilities or amenities for the people, and impose necessary consequences when laws are broken.


This study was limited to adolescents in two special correctional centres in Lagos State (Special Correctional Centre for Boys situated at Oregun and Special Correctional Centre for Girls at Idi-Araba). The study covered male and female 14 adolescents of different ages, educational levels and length of stay (duration) in the special correctional centres


The study encountered various militating factors which posed as a limitation such as:

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Cognitive restructuring: Cognitive restructuring is a group of therapeutic techniques that help people notice and change their negative thinking patterns.

Adolescence: Adolescence is a phase of maturation: it is a transitional period of physical and psychological human development between childhood and adulthood, the cultural purpose of which involves preparation to assume adult roles.

Conduct disorder: Conduct disorder (CD) is a mental disorder diagnosed in childhood or adolescence that presents itself through a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate norms are violated

Delinquency: Juvenile delinquency, also known as “juvenile offending”, is the act of participating in unlawful behavior as a minor or individual younger than the statutory age of majority.



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