Effect of child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary schools students

Effect of child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary schools students



1.1       Background to the study

            The child has been a victim of various forms of abuse from the immemorial. There is no doubt that the plight of children is the same worldwide whereas adult’s rights have been jealously guarded. As a matter of facts, this should not be so, since the child has fundamental human rights to protection, health and other opportunities that should provide the fertile soil for the blossoming of his/her God given potentials.

Child abuse is seen as an intentional act that results in physical or emotional harm to children. It covers a wide range of behaviour from actual physical abuse to neglect of a child’s basic needs. Although the extent of child abuse is difficult to estimate, it is recognized as major social problem especially in the Developing Nations like Nigeria and to a lesser extent in industrialized Nation. The abuse of children has started long ago but of recent, however, attention has been focused on the child and his/her circumstances.

The child has been defined, by the Word Book Encyclopedia (1992), as a person between 18 months and 13 years of age. A child has been further defined by the children and Young Person’s Law, as contained in the law of the federation of Nigeria (1990), as a person less than 14 years of age. The United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF 1986) defined child abuse as the maltreatment or any form of physical and or emotional ill-treatment or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of a responsibility, trust or power.

Many forms of child abuse are implied in the above definition because it is not a single entity but appears to manifest as child labour, sexual exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse and emotional neglect. UNICEF (1996) outlined that some of the major types of the child abuse can come in different varieties or forms, though certain types have been more prominently discussed and attended to, because they are the most serious and common. Child abuse is any form of physical, psychological, social, emotional or sexual maltreatment of a child where by the survival, self-esteem, growth and development of the child are endangered. Child abuse includes physical abuse, that is bodily injury to a child resulting in skin bruising, bleeding, burns, fracture of any bone, soft tissue, swelling, or death, when the injury is not otherwise justifiably explained. A neglected child is one without proper parental care, and / or who lacks subsistence education, medical or other care necessary for the child’s wellbeing due to the conduct or omission of the parents, guardian or other custodian. Sexual abuse includes rape molestation, incest, prostitution or pornographic activities or other similar form of sexual exploitation harming or threatening to a child (Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon.2009).

Child abuse appears to occur majorly in the family. Ogunseye (2010) reported the case of mother who beat her daughter to death because she was slow in learning ABCD-Z. She also reported the case of a father who beat his daughter to death for defecating in their one room apartment. Ogunseye interviewed a psychiatrist concerning this case. The reaction was that first; we need to find out if the parents of these children are normal. Unfortunately, not all parents are wise disciplinarian. Fatigue, and stress often cause parents to behave in ways that may harm their children. Many Nigerian parents defend physical punishment usually because that is how their own parents death with them. The idea seems to be, “ I didn’t turn out so bad, so what was good enough for me will be good enough for my children”. The problem however is that, physical punishment is usually delivered in anger and exasperation. When parent’s emotions run high, they can easily lose control. Maltreatment syndrome is described as the end result of three potentiating factors: the abuse-prone personality of parent, characteristics of the child that make him vulnerable for scape goat, and current environmental stress.

Inexperienced parents may have unrealistic notions about how children should behave and about what is appropriate behavior for the age of the child. Often one child in a family becomes the target of parental displeasure. These children may be at high risk because they are difficult, handicapped or unwanted. Some people seem predisposed to react to any stress with violence, and when the stress is caused by a child, the stage is set for abuse. Sexual abuse of children by one of the parents or step-parent also frequently occurs in the home. Most of such cases are probably never reported, and statistics for that reason are below. One reason that such acts are not reported is that the children are too young to know exactly what is happening to them. Children sometimes are afraid of retaliation or punishment, if they disclose such an act, others may feel guilty of such act.

Child neglect is another form of maltreatment of children. While child abuse is an overt act of violence to a child, neglect is failure to take care of a child’s physical and emotional needs. Neglect is often more difficult to recognize than other types of child abuse. Neglect can only be seen by outsiders when children are hungry, not properly dressed, left unattended to under risky circumstance or not given proper medical care. All these features of child abuse negate the United Nation Convection and African Union Charter on Rights of the Child. The basic principles of children’s right according to the U.N in 1989, among others are that a child has the right to live and be allowed to survive and develop and that a child is entitled to adequate rest, recreation i.e. leisure and play according to his age and culture. Also, every child must be protected from incident and in- human treatment through sexual exploration, drug abuse, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect.

Bertozzi, Levine, Martinez and Gertler (2004) reported that the death of a parent is one of the most severe traumas that a child can suffer which could lead to child abuse. They find out that the loss of a parent causes emotional distress and deprives the orphaned child of love, nurturing values and information, Habitual verbal harassment of a child can be referred to as emotional and psychological abuse. This includes threats, name calling, belittling, and shaming, (National Association of Counsels for Children, 2007), A parent’s childhood history and experience with his/her own family of origin, his peers, friends, and social environment dictate his relationship and interaction with his/her children. Mothers who experience unresolved anger and distress and had troubled relations with their parents tend to have insecure relationship with their children or spouse. Definitely this will lead to violence between partners and violence between parents and children.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

There is media campaign against the prevalent exposure of children to this social problem called child abuse. In the society, one can observe children engaged in child labour when they should be in school laying a strong foundation for their future. Cases of rape and child prostitution abound in the society  due to economic situation in the country. Some parents are neglecting their children to engage in struggle for survival. Parents beat their children to death with slightest provocation. Family time, when family come together to interact affectionately and share their experience is no longer a common feature of many homes.

Central to this study, the existence of various forms of child abuse such as physical abuse, child labour, sexual abuse, physical neglect and emotional neglect. Furthermore, there could be certain variables, ethnic background, teacher influence, orphan hood that may relate to child abuse.

1.3       Objectives of the study

The objective of the study is to examine child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary schools students in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State. However specific objectives are to:

  1. identify the problem of child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary school students in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State.
  2. determine the effect of child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary schools students in the local government.
  • suggest possible ways of eradicating child abuse and curb students involvement in social vices.

1.4       Research Question

  1. What is the prevalence of child abuse and involvement in social vices among secondary school students in Ondo West Local Government.
  2. In what form does child abuse manifest among secondary school students in Ondo West Local Government.
  3. What are the psychosocial factors of Child Abuse among Secondary School Students in Ondo West Local Government of Ondo State?
  4. What are the psychological factors of Child Abuse among Secondary School Students in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State?


1.5       Justification of the Study

            The study of this nature becomes importance so as focus on how child abuse leads to other social vices among secondary schools student in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State and also to provide valuable data for counseling the secondary school students in Ondo State and Nigeria in general.

1.6       Significance of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine whether child abuse exists and in what forms, the external or pre disposing factors that bring this about in Secondary School in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State. In this regard, the study intends to determine whether there are child labour, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect among children in secondary schools.

Furthermore, this study is to provide valuable data for counseling in secondary schools in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State, the study could also provide information that may suggest the type of guidance and counseling services to be put in place for the abused child in school system. An awareness of the problems of the child and attempt to providing solutions to them would create a very good forum for their proper upbringing at home and in the school.

This study could be significant to the teachers, guidance, counselors, school administrators and all educational planners in the sense that the findings would provide objectives information on the nature and influence on child abuse. This could therefore lead to the right emphasis on the students overall development and suggest students counseling needs in schools.

1.7       Scope of the Study

            This research work covers child abuse and involvement in other social vices among secondary school students in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State. Also discussed in this study are the possible ways of eradicating child abuse and curb students involvement in social vices.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

The major terms will be defined as used in this work.

Child: any person between the ages of 0-15 years.

Child Abuse: the intentional use of force or omission of care by a parents or guardians that cause to be maimed hurt or killed.

Physical Child Abuse: an abuse that results in actual or potential harm to child, e.g.  parent or guardian.

Child Sexual Abuse: involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she can not comprehend, is unable to give consent to, and for which he or she is not developmentally prepared, and which violates the laws of society.

Child Labour: work that impedes a child’s growth and development. Such work deprives children of family protection and makes them vulnerable to health hazards.

Physical Child Neglect: an intention or omission on the part of parents or guardians for the development need of the child in all spheres, health, emotional development, shelter and safe living conditions in the context of resources available to them.

Emotion Neglect: failure of a parents or guardians to meet child’s basic need for affection and comfort. Being cold, distant and allowing a child to use drugs engage in delinquent behaviour or deny him or her educational needs, are examples of emotional neglect.

Child Abuse Correlates: those psychological and social variables that may precipitate abusive tendencies among parents and guardians.

Parental Status: the socio-economic level or how poor or rich the parents or guardians of the child are.

Family Size: the number of people who are members of a family. They may not be children born of the parents but are dependent on them.

Religions Background: religion that the parents practice or their beliefs.

Parental Loss: the status of children who do not have one or both parents and may have to live with other people.

Ethnic Background: the ethnic group to which the child’s parents belong.




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