The Impact Of Child Abuse And Neglect On The Nigerian Society
This study examined child abuse and neglect: implication on the Nigeria society. Five research questions were answered with four questions complementing each research question. The sample size was one hundred and fifty (150). Validated structured questionnaire was administered on the randomly selected respondents by simple random sampling technique. One hundred and fifty validated questionnaires were returned. Frequencies and simple percentages were used in analyzing the data. The result revealed that environmental interaction influences a child’s behaviour and development. The findings also show that immaturity, unrealistic expectations and emotional problems of parents and caregivers are major causes of child abuse and neglect. In addition, it abused and neglected children face difficulties in psychological adjustment and in performance at school. It is recommended that parents should put the future of their children at heart and endeavour to create such relationship that will encourage their children to create academic opportunities and to give positive feedback about their behavior.
1.1 Background of the Study
The concepts of child abuse and child neglect are forms of maltreatment on the child that impedes child survival, development and participation. Children are seen as assets to parents and government because they are human resources that any society can boast of, therefore, parents and government invest in them in order to obtain better tomorrow. This can be achieved however, if their early child socialization is devoid of harmful cultural practices that crippled their chances of survival, development and participation. Ejikeme (1987) defines child abuse as a problem arising from the intention of an adult to carry out an act that is inimical or detrimental to the physical, intellectual, language, emotional, moral and social development of a child; while child neglect which involves some degree of deprivation refers to an intentional failure of an adult to perform physical, cognitive, moral and social development of a child. However, it is imperative to note in this premise that what constitute child maltreatment in one society may not be considered same in another society, this is because of cultural differences an belief, practices.
From the above, it will be important to trace the fact that there might be different factors that caused child abuse and neglect since the application of cultural ideology is not universal; that is, it changes across societies. However, different forms of child maltreatment exist like: child trafficking, street begging, street hawking, child discrimination or child preference, early marriage, prostitution, child labour, use of virgin girl-child for ritual/sacrifice etc. despite tangible evidences or empirical indicators of child abuse and neglect, it is difficult to measure. This is so because it is recognized as a major social problem that occurs in all levels of social class, race, religion and ethnic groups. It is important to note that the practice of child abuse and neglect is supported by government indirectly when the individual is seen as a product of the society.
Poor socio-economic status of parents trace its roots through unemployment and destitution as government does not address social inequality, unemployment and poverty amongst its citizens, instead people in position work towards actualizing their selfish ends and those who cannot meet the society values through the legitimate means result to deviance and crime as postulated by Robert K. Merton, Alemika and Best (1988) argues that our past successive state Governors/Administrators both military and Politicians, business individuals, foreigners etc who loot billions of Naira from the country’s treasury and precipitate years of economic crisis, political instability etc are hardly arrested, prosecuted nor jailed, instead they are rewarded with Chieftaincy tittles, honorary degrees, ministerial appointments, contracts and the like.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Child abuse and neglect is a problem plaguing children today. In addition to negatively impacting the child, child abuse and neglect impacts the family, the school community, and even future generations. According to Twardosz and Lutzker, in 2008, 73.3% of all child abuse victims were victims of neglect. Physical abuse victims represented 16.1% of all victims, sexual abuse 9.1% of all victims, and emotional abuse 7.3% of all victims. The remaining 4.2% of child victims experienced other types of maltreatment such as abandonment, threat of harm, and in-utero drug exposure.
One of the fundamental problems facing Nigeria today is the fact that the incidences of children who work outside the family to earn a living or to support their families are increasing. Children are known to engage in one form of work or the other especially within the family. In the urban areas, children between the age of eight years and fifteen are seen hawking or engaged in one form of labour or the other, hence, exposing them to danger. The situation of most Nigerian children remains critical due to the unique factors of their socio-economic, cultural, traditional and developmental circumstances. Poor households need money which the family can earn in order to take care of the family. As a result, children are compelled by circumstances beyond their control to contribute to family income. In the long run, working children are disadvantaged in several ways due to their involvement in all sorts of hazardous works which affect their education, health and development process.
Majority of Nigerian parents believe that children are God-sent-helpers both economically and for other purposes. It is this notion that led many families into producing many children especially in the Nigerian agrarian society. This belief has become so accepted in the thinking that few or no attempt has been made to question its validity. Hence, children are victims of ignorance and barbaric cultural practices.
In effect, child abuse and neglect has severe educational implications. Such implications include difficulties in psychological adjustment and in performance at school. Studies have consistently emphasized that abused or neglected children on the average score lower on cognitive measures and demonstrate poorer school achievement than their non-abused peers of similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The research at glance intent to critically analyzes, appraises and examines the impact of negative attributes of child abuse and neglect on the individual, families and the society.
The specific objectives are:
- Determine the impact of child abuse and neglect on the child.
- Determine the relationship between child abuse, child neglect and crime.
- Determine the roles of parents and government in curbing the menace.
- Determine the influence of culture in propagating child abuse and neglect.
- Make appropriate recommendations to the government.
1.4 Research Question
- How does child abuse cause crime?
- Why are there still incidences of child abuse in our society?
- What are the implications and effects of child abuse and neglect on our society?
- Is there any link between abuse and socio-economic status of a child?
1.5 Significance of Study
Child abuse and child neglect are social problems that affects a significant number of people about which something need to be done. This menace deters technological advancement and waste a lot of wisdom and talents.
This study however, would help reduce the number of people affected through adequate mobilization and campaign against this catastrophe. This study would also help in legislating against the catastrophe. This study would provide a data bank that serve as literature for further use by scholars. It is believed that with increased understanding and knowledge parents, educators, and caregivers will be able to better protect and care for children in abusive and neglectful environments.
The outcome of the study will therefore enable parents, educators, and caregivers to have requisite knowledge on how to take care of children.
It will also help them understand the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect in order to identify children suffering from such influence. This will go a long way to heal such children psychologically.
At completion, this research work guide will provide parents, educators, and caregivers a checklist of sorts to guide them through recognizing the risk factors, understanding the prevalence, and identifying steps to be taken once a student is assumed to be in a situation of abuse and/or neglect.
Finally, it will add to the wealth of available resources on child abuse and neglect for future researchers.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of Study
This study was restricted to Gyel district of Jos south local government area; this is to provide the researcher access to sample a particular target population to ensure meaningful work.
1.7 Definition of Terms
A human being between the stages of birth and puberty.
The improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit.
Failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect maybe physical, medical, educational, or emotional.
Failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision.
Failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment
Failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs
Inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs
Physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result or punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap or other object), burning or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child.
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. It includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials
This can be defined as any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. This is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence to harm to child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.
This form is very complex and can involve multiple forms of abuse and occur in the context of abusive family groups and perpetrator networks.
Childhood trauma includes child abuse in all its forms, neglect, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence in childhood as well as other adverse childhood experiences.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
This chapter entails the summary and conclusion on child abuse and neglect and its effects on social security and recommendations on what can be done to reduce its occurrence in our society.
The concept of child abuse and neglect is a very eclectic one. Its understanding as it occurs varies from individuals, ethnic groups, religious institution, professional bodies etc.
However, This study have discussed the occurrence of child abuse and neglect as it occurs in various forms like physical abuses, verbal abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, child labour, child abandonment and child sexual abuse.
Furthermore, The researcher also made available the factors that contribute to child abuse and child neglect in our society; This include the parent or caregiver factors, family factors, child factors, environmental and protective factors.
The experience of child abuse and neglect has very significant consequences in the life of an individual. It has effects on the health and physical well being, intellectual and cognitive development and emotional, psychological and behavioural aspect of his/her life. All this were critically analysed in this study.
Basically, this study does not only state or lament the problems of child abuse and neglect in our society, it also enumerates factors that contribute to its occurrence and its consequences on the child. This study also made a conscientious look at what can be done to abate the menace of child abuse and neglect in our society.
And lastly, the researcher also visited teachers, health workers, parents, caregivers, law enforcement officers and residents within the Local Government Area to interview them by the means of a questionnaire so as to get their submissions and what they feel about child abuse and neglect as it affects our social security. The aggregate views of the respondents and the analysis of their responses were fully and meticulously presented in chapter four of this research project.
Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children are reported to be victims of child abuse and neglect every year. An untold number of other children are also maltreated but not reported.
However, from the research that has been conducted in this study, it can be concluded that child abuse and neglect is one that needs to be tackled aggressively to maintain the sanity of our social infrastructure. The cycle of abuse has to be nipped in the bud. Child abuse should be taken seriously in our society. Abuse of children will always create problems for those children and the society at large. Abuse may cause the children to be depressed. It may make them lose their self esteem, self confidence and ego. Abuse may affect the academic performance of the children involved. Abuse may make children distrust others and cause sleeping disorder and other self destructive behaviours.
The researcher has therefore deemed it fit to proffer some recommendations to address the issue of child abuse and neglect, within the context of Nigerian Society, in order to arrest the ugly situation.
Firstly, Parents should be sensitized on the problem of child abuse. Some parents cannot distinguish between child abuse and discipline at homes. Public awareness on what constituted the abuse of a child must be increased throughout the nook and cranny of the Nigerian Society. Parents need to understand what child abuse really is and the forms of the abuse. Some consider abuse as discipline but they are two different things. Parents need to understand the point where child abuse and child discipline intersect or where discipline crosses over and becomes an abuse. Moreover, some parents lack good act of parenting. Some Nigerian parents need to be taught the act of parenting. The researcher therefore recommend public talks, seminars, workshops and training by the government at various levels, non-governmental organizations and religious bodies to assist in this regard.
Secondly, the laws that protect the rights of the children must be fully implemented with all sincerity. The violators of the law must be judiciously prosecuted by the law enforcement agencies. The researcher however recommends the training of some officers of the law that would specially take care of the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases in the country as such will deter the incidences of child abuse and neglect in the country. We equally want the government to always review laws protecting the rights of children in line with the updated law at the international level. Such laws must also be implemented.
Thirdly, The researcher equally implores the non-governmental organizations and religious bodies to assist in launching and implementing programs of various forms that would counter the problems of child abuse in the country.
Fourthly, Schools should also endeavour to organise a kind of orientation programme to sensitize the children on avoiding potentially harmful scenarios.
It should also be noted that the identification and prompt reporting of any suspected case of child maltreatment to the police or other relevant law enforcement agency is very crucial.
And lastly, the religious leaders in our various religious institutions should also provide counselling for their congregation and preach against various forms of child abuses and neglect.
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