The Different Faces of Vice: Why the Boy-child Engages in Social Ills
By: Abdul Habeeb Akorede.
In recent times, literature have addressed the possible impacts of societal views on the boy-child; how expectations force him into a life of crime or, at the very least, defiance. But few have tried to analyse whether expectations are all it takes to send him downhill. While the boy-child may be societal scum because that is how best he thinks he can prove his masculinity, he can also be assailed by other factors. In this piece, we shed light on those, using ritualism, drugs, and internet fraud as reference points.
The Community and the Boy-child
Truthfully, we cannot disparage the impacts of expectations on the boy’s actions or inactions. One might even venture that it underlies the way individuals carry themselves and their interactions with other members of the community. However, we must also remember the environment itself. If the child is raised in a location where drugpushing is the norm, it is only natural that he steps into that realm himself. For instance, a purely agrarian community will likely continue to birth farmers, same as one that survives on their aquatic resources. In these cases, it is not merely that the society, via direct or subtle means, said “you have to do this because others are”, it is that the boy finds it the only available option for him.
Assuming that an individual is always motivated to do what society wants is faulty because it instantly believes that people think in every case; that there is no crowd mentality and individuals scan other people to realize what they want and how they might view them. Simply put, if the boy-child feels that he cannot access other options or do something in a different way, we might want to inquire into his community.
The Scourge of Poverty
Whether a person had it in him or not, there is a likelihood that crime becomes tempting when poverty afflicts. There is a common assumption that the boy, due to the sense of responsibility he feels towards his family, will find ways to cater for them. But this is incorrect. Rather than view males as natural providers, we should bear the sentiment that humans, as one, are providers. It just happens that lights often shine on the boy when matters emerge thus.
Essentially, we cannot posit that the boy engages in vice for the ordinary reason that he is male and males provide. He engages because he is human, and humans, sex regardless, care for their own when there is a need. Now, we must also consider the differences in the method of provision. Because males are endowed with physical strength, they may be more inclined to assume roles that require it. But where there are no legal roles, the aggressive route of crime is an alluring choice. There, the male can put his biological advantages to good use. On the other hand, women may select crime that demands finesse, not strength. The underlying current either way is that both desire to survive for themselves only or care for others close them. There is no expectation — just plain humanity.
The Need to Be in Vogue
Furthermore, another trait that isn’t bound to expectation is the want of inclusion. That envy, hate and discontent pervade establishments where people are left out is as much a truth as any other. On the popular crime of internet fraud in Nigeria, the perception of others as being in a higher social class is enough reason to dabble in crime. In many cases, desperation can push individuals even farther beyond the edge, leading to capital offences like murder. The sense of insecurity that accompanies existing in an a place where others seem to have can also make vice a tempting option. Thus, expectation or not, an individual being cut from life’s delicacies can draw him into crime.
One might perceive this as a masculine trait, the need to dominate. But an observation of the immediate environment will reveal that it is simply an human need. Superiority is the focal point of social stratification, allowing certain members, regardless of their sex again, the power to command, or show, at least, that they are better positioned than others. Even when equipped with material resources, one cannot contend that there is a drive to move up the ladder. And for those who do not have, wanting to be seen differently can spur actions that create a difference. A boy may therefore participate in social vices to establish himself as better than those around him. In this case, ambition, not expectation pushes him into crime.
An easy way to understand this concept is a look at pop culture. Black American rap, for instance, portrays personalities who have somehow escaped the binds of the hood. The artistes sell difference and exemplary qualities, making that itself a basis to find alternatives to an unsatisfactory life.
Above, we have looked at different reasons why the boy-child may engage crime. The general nature of these motives imply that factors that aren’t gender-specific can drive criminality. Still, expectation as a factor cannot be disregarded. The boy-child faces a consistent need to prove himself, will, in the event of failure, be shunned by familial and social circles. The commonness of the statement “you’re a man, behave like one” is sufficient to break moral clasps. If the culture persists, boys, rather than explore positive ways to build themselves, may sink further into crime, a situation in which we would all be complicit.