This exploratory study of child and youth care services in Nigeria first examines theoretical concepts associated with the causation of youth problems in developed countries with particular reference to Britain and North America. From an historical and comparative perspective, the application and limitations of Western theories of delinquency causation in developing countries are analysed. An historical analysis of traditional Nigerian culture serves to highlight the problems associated with socio-economic change and the impact of change on traditional child and youth care practices. The impact of urban development on migrant youths is then analysed to establish the theoretical relationship between urbanisation and delinquency.
Traditional roles maintained in extended families and traditional patterns of child and youth care practices are analysed to Identify the relationship between family disorganisation and delinquent behaviour among contemporary Nigerian young people. Family structure is identified as a core variable in explaining differences between rural and urban delinquency. Two case studies are presented to illuminate the degree of delinquent behaviour found amongst children and young people from disorganised families and to highlight differences between delinquency found in an urban area and a rural culture. Religious differences are identified as central to sequences in the development and definition of delinquency in the two major cultures in Nigeria. A social policy ideal, based on the notion of an integrated “continuum of care” for children and families, is used to analyse and evaluate child welfare services found in Nigeria at the present time. Prospects for the future development of services are also considered.