Influence Of Child Abuse On The Academic Performance Of Secondary School Students

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Influence Of Child Abuse On The Academic Performance Of Secondary School Students


Abstract


This project work focuses on the effects of child abuse on students’ academic performance. The study attempts to unravel the causes, effects and remedies to child abuse among secondary school students in Lagos State. It was carried out in Bariga Local Government Area of Lagos State. Specifically, the study tried to; identify the personal characteristics of students’ and teachers in public Secondary school in Bariga Local Government Area and investigate the effect of child abuse on students’ academic performance in Secondary school. In order to achieve these objectives, the following research questions were advanced; (i) what is the extent of the effect of child abuse on students’ assessment grades and academic performance?(ii) What is the extent of the effect of child abuse on students’ participation in class activities and academic performance? Two research hypotheses were also formulated in furtherance of the study; (i) Child abuse has no significant effects on students’ assessment grades and academic performance (ii) Child abuse has no significant effects on students’ participation in class activities and academic performance. The study uses the survey design and the population of the study was the 195public Secondary schools identified in Bariga Local Government Area. However the research selected 20 out of them for a closer study through the simple random sampling technique. Primary data was collected through the use of questionnaire, presented and analyzed by means of simple percentages. A cut-off mean of 2 points was the bench mark for answering research questions and hypotheses were tested using the one-sample t-test. The research revealed that; child abuse has significant effects on both students’ assessment grades and their participation in class activities; and thus concludes that child abuse has significant effects on students’ academic performance in Secondary school. It was recommended that; child abuse and it effects should receive attention in education policy forums; and that parents should always relate to their children with love and affection and provide for their needs; there should be public enlightenment programs to combat mass ignorance and public awareness on the right to freedom from all forms of child abuse; as much as possible, teachers/caregivers should avoid the use of corporal punishment because it only teaches children that violence is the best way of maintaining control and it encourages them to hit other children; there should be provision of nurturing and supportive child friendly school, learning environment free from noise, distractions, discrimination and abuse of any kind; a child should not be disciplined when the adult’s anger is out of control; intense awareness should be created among teachers and school managers using seminars, workshops and training programs about what constitutes child abuse; all forms of abuse should be exposed to this class of caregivers so as to draw their attention to some of the unintentional acts that bother on child abuse; teaching profession should be professionalized to ensure that there is no one teaching as a second best option, this would ensure that people in this profession really see it as their contribution to society’s development; and penalty for teachers’ who commit sexual abuse with their students should be severe enough to deter other perpetrators.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Child abuse and neglect are fastly becoming universal phenomena in the current world societies despite the fact the child’s rights are being recognized and even to some extent, protected by legislations and constitutions in many countries of the world. Childhood abuse potentially has major economic implications for Nigerian schools and for their students. Even conservative estimates suggest that at least 8 percent of U.S. children experience sexual abuse before age 18, while 17 percent experience physical abuse and 18 percent experience physical neglect (Flisher, Kramer, Hoven, & Greenwald, 2007). Childhood maltreatment, and aversive parenting practices, in general, has the potential to delay the academic progress of students (Shonk & Cicchetti, 2001). It therefore has the potential to undermine schools’ ability to satisfy standards of school progress entailed in the No Child Left Behind legislation (U.S. Department of Education, 2005), putting them at risk for loss of federal funding. It also has the potential to adversely affect students’ economic outcomes in adulthood, via its impact on achievement in middle and high school (Cawley, Heckman, & Vytlacil, 2001).

Child abuse has been defined by the African network for the prevention and protection against child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) as the intentional and unintentional acts which endanger the physical, health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of the child. Hopper (2004) also described child abuse as any act of maltreatment or subjection that endangers a child’s physical, emotional and health development.

Gelles, (2007) affirmed that child abuse include not only physical assault but also malnourishment, abandonment, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

According to Mba (2002), prominent form of child abuse in Nigeria are child battering, child labour, child abandonment, neglect, teenage prostitution, early marriage and forced marriage. Kolander (2000) stated that emotional and sexual abuses are highly noticeable in Nigeria. Oji (2006) observed that babies born by teenage mothers in Nigeria were 625,024 as at the reporting time.

According to Walsh (2005), unwanted pregnancy has been identified to be a major cause of child abuse in Nigeria. Many abused children were unwanted in the first place and turned out to be a severe burden on their emotionally immature or impoverished parents. Odey (2003) stated that children from poor homes are more vulnerable to abuse and Todd, (2004) in his support said that Nigeria, which is known as corrupt nation in Africa is heading towards a dangerous poverty where its teeming population does not have enough food for healthy living. Oluwole (2002) equally lamented when analyzing the situation of children which are being used for house helps. Child labour is the major obstacles to the achievement of education for all (EFA) and this result into a setback on the achievement of the world target of universal primary education by 2015.

According to Onye (2004), child abuse is an evidence of poverty. Aderinto and Okunola (2008) equally recorded that some children reported that they were pushed into street hawking for maintenance needs of the family. That means that they are the breadwinners of their various families at their early age. It is a common sight in major parks and streets in Nigeria to see children of school age between 6-16 years as bus/taxi mates, hawking wares, pushing trucks for money or begging for money when they are supposed to in the classroom learning in the schools. All these point to the fact that the worst hit groups are children who are at the risk of diseases, exploitation, neglect and violence.

Although, the potential impact of child abuse is large, but evidence of causal effects of maltreatment on children’s longer term outcomes in school is generally lacking. The current state of evidence for a link between childhood maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse or neglect) and school performance is limited to negative associations between maltreatment and school performance. On average, children who are abused receive lower ratings of performance from their school teachers, score lower on cognitive assessments and standardized tests of academic achievement, obtain lower grades, and get suspended from school and retained in grade more frequently (Erickson, Egeland, & Pianta, 2003). Abused children are also prone to difficulty in forming new relationships with peers and adults and in adapting to norms of social behavior (Shields, Cicchetti and Ryan, 2004). Although, these examples of negative associations between child abuse and school performance are suggestive of causal effects, they could be spuriously driven by unmeasured factors in families or neighborhoods that are themselves correlated with worse academic outcomes among children (Todd and Wolpin, 2003).

In addition, not much of the previous evidence linking childhood maltreatment to worse school performance generalizes well to older children in middle and high school and to children not already identified as needing services. Evidence of the impacts of maltreatment on academic performance in the general population of middle and high school students is needed to establish evidence of effects on schooling attainment in the general education population and on economic outcomes in adulthood.

Using a large dataset of United State of American (U.S.A) adolescent sibling pairs, this study explores effects of maltreatment-neglect, physical aggression, and sexual abuse on adolescents’ performance in middle and high school. First, the questions of how childhood maltreatment theoretically could negatively affect later school performance, and of how unobserved family background and neighborhood characteristics might influence ordinary least squares and fixed effects regression estimates of relationships between childhood maltreatment and later school performance, are discussed. Second, empirical estimates from models that controlled for observable and unobservable family and neighborhood characteristics are presented.


1.2 Statement of Problem

Grill (2009) stated that the school can do a lot of things about child abuse since it has a way of affecting the school system. The problem of child abuse have long been existing in Nigeria, and have even become more even devastating to the society has whole. That history of child abuse in BarigaLocal Government Area of Lagos State is as old as the persistence of the phenomenon in Lagos itself cannot be overemphasized. Children suffered all forms of abuse ranging from child battering, child labour, child abandonment, neglect, teenage prostitution, early marriage and forced marriage. And in most cases, the parents are even at the centre of the root cause of all these social maltreatment.

The school though, as an agent of socialization portends to have a strong and overwhelming influence on the development of the child, but observation has shown that these essence of education could probably be defeated if the children are made to continually suffer the pains of child labour (Martins 2010). This study however, centers on the extent to which the school has been involved in its attempt to develop the child within the social context of child abuse. And It is in the light of these, that the study attempts to unravel the major causes of child abuse and how it affects the child’s educational performance.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the effect of child abuse on academic performance of Secondary school student in Bariga Local Government Area.

Specifically, the study seeks to investigate;

  1. The effect of child abuse on Secondary school students’ assessments grades and academic performance.
  2. The effect of child abuse on Secondary school students’ participation in the class and academic performance.

1.4 Research Questions

In order to achieve the objectives the following questions are hereby posed;

  1. What is the extent of the effect of child abuse on Secondary school students’ assessments grades and academic performance?
  2. What is the extent of the effect of child abuse on Secondary school students’ participation in the class and academic performance?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

In furtherance of the objectives the following hypotheses are hereby projected;

HO 1: Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ assessments grades and academic performance.

HO 2: Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ participation in the class and academic performance.


1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is to provide parents and school administrators with an insight into how much damage child abuse and especially hawking after school can have on the academic development of student in general. This study is significant as the findings will be beneficial to parents, guardians, teachers, school heads and all other stakeholders in the educational sector, as they will be better enlightened on the problems associated with child abuse. Such knowledge may curtail any further action of exploiting the child especially been used as object of raising family economy. Hawking no doubt expose the child to many social vices, thus the fact that the study attempts to create a model for proper upbringing of the child in the society makes it justifiable.


1.7 Scope of the Study

The study laid emphasis on the effect of child abuse and how it affects the academic performance of the child using secondary schools in Bariga Local Government Area as case study.


1.8 Definition of Terms

The following words and phrases are been defined or given explanations as used in this work. Thus, they are put to the scale of contextual meaning. However, the researcher strives as much as possible not to deviate totally from their conceptual meanings.

A Child:

A child is any person under the age of 18 years.

Child Abuse:

Child is said to be abused when the parents, care givers or any human action leads to physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse of the child. It also involves failure of the parents to provide the necessary love and care for the child.

Physical Abuse:

Generally, child physical abuse refers to the non-accidental use of physical force against a child that can or results in harm to the child. A parent does not have to intend to physically harm his child to have physically abused on him (e.g., shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking biting, burning, strangling and poisoning, physical punishment that results in bruising would generally be considered physical abuse). Depending on the age and the nature of the behaviour, physical force that is likely to cause physical harm to the child may also be considered abusive (e.g., a situation in which a baby is shaken but not injured would still be considered physically abusive).

Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with a child’s positive development, psyche and self-concept. It is any act on the part of a parents or caregiver that has the potential for or has actually caused serious emotional cognitive, mental or behavioral disorders. Actions that can constitute an emotional abuse may include constantly blaming the child, belittling and or berating the child, being unconcerned about the child’s welfare and overtly rejection of the child by parents or caretakers or caregivers.

Sexual Abuse:

A child sexual abuse is the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child/adolescent. Thus; any act which exposes a child to, or involves a child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards. Sexually abusive behaviours can include the fondling of genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object, fondling of breasts, voyeurism and exhibitionism, and exposing the child to or involving the child in pornography.

Spiritual Abuse:

Spiritual abuse is characterized by religious mind control or thought reforms; satanic or sadistic ritual abuse of a child through an organized, secret manipulations, often multi-generational group who engage in mutilation, ritual killing, cannibalism, drinking of blood, systematic torture to change or program a child’s mentality, etc.

Child Neglect:

Child neglect refers to the failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and wellbeing.

Physical Child Neglect:

Physical child neglect is characterized by the parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to provide basic physical necessities, such as safe, clean and adequate clothing, housing, food and health care.

Emotional Child Neglect:

Emotional (or psychological) child neglect is characterized by a lack of parent, guardian or caregiver warmth, nurturance, encouragement and support (note that emotional neglect is sometimes considered a form of emotional maltreatment).

Educational Child Neglect:

Educational child neglect is characterized by a parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to provide appropriate educational opportunities for the child.

Environmental Child Neglect:

Environmental child neglect is characterized by the parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to ensure environmental safety, opportunities and resources for the child.

Maltreatment:

Child maltreatment refers to any non-accidental behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of omission (i.e., neglect) and commission (i.e., abuse).

Academic Performance:

Academic performance is the outcome of education; the extent to which a student has achieved his/her educational goals. It may also refer to a person’s strong achievements in a given academic arena. Thus, it is sometimes called proficiency and may be quantified in several ways, such as exams and tests. In a given term or session, high academic performance may mean a student is on the honor roll.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary of the study, the conclusion reached from the study, recommendations arising from the research findings, and the suggestions for further studies.


5.2 Summary

The research centers on investigating the effects of child abuse on academic performance of Secondary school students. By this, it investigates the effects of child abuse on academic performance of public Secondary school students’ in Bariga Local Government Area of Lagos State. Child abuse is not a new phenomenon in the history of man. It has been going on right from time immemorial. In Africa/Nigerian society what constitute abuse today has never been regarded as abuse. It has been seen as a way of training the child to become a well behaved, disciplined and self actualized person in society. It is a normal process that children from birth be exposed to a variety of experiences from parents, caregivers and other adults in the society. This is to enable the children acquire the necessary basic norms and skills for effective participation in the society where they belong and for their personal growth and development. The process of acquiring these skills is sometimes stressful for the children to bear. Some parents and care givers make the condition for acquiring these skills so difficult that the children may find it difficult to cope. The condition in which children are exposed to as they try to acquire the skills to become disciplined and hardworking individuals is where the problems lie. When these conditions become over-stretched it becomes an abuse.

The main problem on hand here is that at the heart of every educational system lays the desire for the students, teachers and the institutions to achieve their educational goals; however, the extent to which this desire is achieved in the study period of a student varies based on individual differences. Individual differences in academic performance have been linked to differences in intelligence and personality. Students with higher mental ability as demonstrated by IQ tests and those who are higher in conscientiousness (linked to effort and achievement motivation) tend to perform highly in academic settings. A recent meta-analysis suggested that mental curiosity (as measured by typical intellectual engagement) has an important influence on academic performance in addition to intelligence and conscientiousness. Despite high mental abilities, conscientiousness and intellectual engagement demonstrated by most children it has been observed of late that the academic performance of children in public Secondary schools in the State, particularly, in Bariga Local Government Area is becoming low. It has also been observed that in this recent times issues of child abuse and neglect is on the rise in the local government due to economic depression caused by the global economic backdrop and incessant social/civil unrests. One wonders if such low academic performance is as a result of the abuse/maltreatment children are exposed to. This became the motivation to investigate the effect of child abuse on academic performance of Secondary schoolstudents in Bariga Local Government.

Specifically, the study investigates the personal characteristics of students’ and teachers in public Secondary schools in Bariga Local Government Area and tries to determine the effects of child abuse on students’ assessment grades and participation in class activities which are identified as measures of academic performance of Secondary school students’ in Bariga Local Government Area. In order to achieve the above objectives the following research questions are advanced by the research: What is the extent of the effects of child abuse on students’ assessment grades and academic performance? What is the extent of the effects of child abuse on students’ participation in class activities and academic performance?

In furtherance of the efforts to achieve the research objectives, the following hypotheses are projected: Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ assessment grades and academic performance; Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ participation in class activities and academic performance.

The importance of this study cannot be overemphasized because in a society where children’s academic performance in most public schools is getting lower, any study which will discover some of the causes will be very relevant. Many research studies have been carried out outside of Lagos State on child abuse and its effect on students’ academic performance. There is need therefore for such a study to be carried out in our locality with different cultural settings. The result of this study will be an added advantage to governments stand on child’s right act and care, if it shows a significant influence. Parents, Guardians, Teachers, other caregivers and the general public will find the result of this study useful, as it will reveal to them the need for effective care and protection of their children, especially the importance of providing educational needs for a higher academic performance. The research will also be a resource of value to other researchers carrying out research on the topic or similar subject matter.

The study is intended to cover all the 195 public Secondary schools in Bariga Local Government Area. However, due to time and financial limitations the study is limited to 20 selected public Secondary schools. The researcher deems it appropriate to select these Secondary schools because all the state owned Secondary schools are attended by almost children of the same social class and a bound the face the same social and life challenges. Also, the calibers of teachers that teach in such schools are mostly of same social orientation. More so, the researcher targets to cover 10% of the total number of public Secondary schools in the Local Government.

The study is also limited to the issue of child abuse and academic performance of Secondary schoolstudents since it will be too cumbersome to study all the factors that deter academic performance of school children in the area.

The survey research design was adopted for the study and the analysis was purely descriptive. The population of the study was all the 195 public Secondary schools identified in Bariga Local Government Area. The study adopts a probability sampling technique; to be precise, the simple random sampling technique and in this manner the study selected 20 public Secondary schools for a closer study, and the close-ended questionnaire was used to elicit data from respondents and was designed based on a three points “Likert-Summated Rating Scale” range from 1 (Disagreed) to 3 (Agree). This satisfies data collection through the primary source.

Secondary source of data collection include textbooks, journal articles and annual reports both from the internet and hard copies. These materials have been reviewed to draw relevant information on the research topic and have formed the basis for the design and formulation of the conceptual framework, theoretical framework, and the empirical studies.

The one-sample t-test was adopted to evaluate the variables since the data is parametric, which is the basis of testing the relevant hypotheses. Percentages and frequencies were also used to analyze characteristics of respondents. A cut-off mean of 2 was set as the bench mark. Based on the test, it was revealed that; child abuse has significant effects on students’ assessment grades as well as their participation in class activities thereby having significant effects on their overall academic performance.


5.3 Conclusion

In the study, the researcher tried to investigate the effects of child abuse on academic performance of students’ in public Secondary schools in Bariga Local Government Area of Lagos State. This was done through investigation of the personal characteristics (data) of students’ and teachers in public Secondary schools and the effect of child abuse on students’ assessment grades and their participation in class which are identified to be measures of academic performance of Secondary schoolstudents’ in Bariga Local Government Area of Lagos state.

The statistical analysis reveals that; child abuse has significant effects on students’ assessment grades and their participation in class activities during and after lessons periods. Base on this, the research therefore conclude that child abuse has significant effects on academic performance of Secondary school students’ in Bariga Local Government Area of Lagos state.


5.4 Recommendations

Based the findings, the research recommend the following:

  1. The effects of child abuse on children‘s classroom behaviour and later academic performance should receive attention in education policy forums; and that parents should always relate to their children with love and affection and provide for their needs.
  2. There should be public enlightenment programs to combat mass ignorance and public awareness on the right to freedom from all forms of child abuse.
  3. As much as possible, teachers/caregivers should avoid the use of corporal punishment because it only teaches children that violence is the best way of maintaining control and it encourages them to hit other children.
  4. There should be provision of nurturing and supportive child friendly school, learning environment free from noise, distractions, discrimination and abuse of any kind.
  5. A child should not be disciplined when the adult’s anger is out of control.
  6. Intense awareness should be created among teachers and school managers using seminars, workshops and training programs about what constitutes child abuse.
  7. All forms of abuse should be exposed to this class of caregivers so as to draw their attention to some of the unintentional acts that bother on child abuse.
  8. Teaching profession should be professionalized to ensure that there is no one teaching as a second best option, this would ensure that people in this profession really see it as their contribution to society’s development.
  9. Penalty for teachers’ who commit sexual abuse with their students should be severe enough to deter other perpetrators.

5.5 Limitations of the Study

The major limitation of the study is that instead of the research to sample individual opinion as designed, it ended up sampling group opinions, for it become evident to the researcher that most of the questionnaires were attended to in groups and thus reflects the dominant opinion of a group voice. It is worthy to note that this was beyond the powers of the researcher to control. However, the validity of the findings and the research conclusion is still significant.


5.6 Suggestions for Further Studies

This study is not restricted neither it is conclusive, student, independent researchers, organizations or any group of person(s) wishing to make further inquiries of the topic are at liberty to do so, they may even find this report of much resource. However, the researcher suggests the following areas for further studies:

  1. The effects of sexual child abuse on social life and educational attainments of children in Lagos State.
  2. The implications of spiritual child abuse on mental health and development of primary and secondary school students’ in Tiv land.
  3. An assessment of the incidence emotional child neglect in Lagos State.
  4. Educational child neglect and its implication on security of Nigeria.

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