AN APPRAISAL OF CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA
1.1 General Introduction
This chapter will be an eye opener to the menace of child abuse in Nigeria. This chapter will also activate the understanding of child abuse in its diversity. However, in recent times teenagers have been exposed to all forms of mal-treatment by parents and caregivers. Some children are denied food, clothing, shelter, medical care, right to formal education and even right to freedom of speech. Many children are driven away from home, and many more are overworked in hard labor, carrying heavy loads on their head and backs, pushing trucks and wheel-barrows along the streets and markets places. Many of them carry goods on their heads and hawk along the streets and markets places. Some work in other people’s houses as their house help, babysitters, cooks, and gardeners; many children are abused physically, emotionally and sexually . These different mal-treatments could influence the way teenagers carry out certain activities. In the school system some teenagers take active part in the school activities while some are weak, slow and withdrawn from such school activities. Some teenagers are been neglected, abused and denied parental and basic needs .
Child abuse is any act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, and sexual abuse or exploitation . In Nigeria, abuse against children is rampant although it is largely under-reported. Under-reporting stems from cultural justification of certain forms of abuse associated with cultural practices and the reluctance of children to speak about prior abusive experiences. Fear of their assailants’ threats or their parent’s reaction may be the cause of this reluctance. Also, some children may be either too young to understand their experience or unable to speak for themselves.
On the other hand, several legal provisions which seek to protect children have been enacted internationally and within Nigeria. However, these laws have not served as an effective tool in curbing the menace of child abuse, as originally intended. The purpose of enacting laws is to prevent a certain problem and decrease the frequency of its occurrence. When these laws are not effective, the purpose is defeated.
1.2 Background of the study
Abuse refers to the physical, sexual, emotional or psychological maltreatment or neglect of children by parents, guidance or others responsible for Childs welfare, the Electronic Encyclopedia , From birth the child depends entirely on adults for growth and development; they need to be cared for, stimulated, guided, and trained to be able to face the challenges of the society as well as to meet his personal development. The education of the child at an early age therefore is very important and most often the home where the child comes from would dictate the type of education the child will acquire.
Children come from different home background; some come from rich or poor homes, others form intact and broken homes. Some are cared for or raised by single parents and stepmother or parents and others by relatives or from large or small families. All these diverse home backgrounds exact great influence on the way the child is brought up. The home environment, financial standing, marital status and family help to determine the type of learning the child acquired. Some children are from literate homes. Most literate parents could know the importance of education and might also have the capacity to send their children, to schools . Consequently, some children who come from poor home backgrounds may be exposed to hard work early in life. While some children comes from intact homes where children are loved and cared for by both parents, other come from broken or separated homes, and are exposed to various forms of abuses. Some children are raised by a single parent who have never really been married before while many are orphans and live with relatives or complete strangers. Thus while some children in these home background are sent to school and their educational needs, physical needs and psychological needs are well taken care of, others are not so lucky once or twice a week because they are engaged in doing home chores or hawking to help supplement their family income .
Another impotent issue is the size of the family. Some families are small in size, comprising of a father, mother and one or two children. The large families on the other hand may have from six and fifteen children plus a father and two more wives. While the parents of the small size family may easily provide for the needs of the family, the parents of the large family may find it difficult to do so. These parents easily accept to give out their children to relatives and non relatives to serve as either servants or house boy/girls cooks gardeners or babysitters.
School attendance for such children is very irregular and school materials are not easily provided. These large families suffer mal nutrition because of low income and inadequate food supply to the family because the father income cannot go round the large number .
Some of these parents or fosters parent may be good and kind and may provide for all the needs of the child even school needs on the other hands are children raised by raised by parents or caregivers who may not have such caring qualities children found in such home can hardly attend school and acquire learning formally. This is because the parents and caregivers neglect, or maltreat the child. The children are overworked at home and do not have any rest or study time. The stressful days and restlessness can affect their growth and development. Those who come from affluent homes are provided with all that is needed for school and learning; their school attendance is regular and they have time to rest, play and time to study.
 Udom, affirms that affluent families do not lack educational opportunity as all facts of knowledge are brought to their doorsteps through provision of internet access television set video set and most hiring private lesson teachers. Some according to them have their own private study rooms or comfortable environment where they can stay at home to do their assignment
In a financially distressed home, according to  Effiong, parents may lack the ability to maintain a warm and healthy relationship with the children because they cannot provide all that the children need. This situation exerts a negative influence on the child’s health pointed out by Nwachukwu .
In all society a child is of prime importance of the family. Naturally, one expects the parent to love and care for their offspring. However in some homes, parent’s child relationship is sometimes a source of distress, trauma and unbelievable tragic realities. Some parents in this 21st century still maltreat, neglect and sometimes do not provide the necessary love and attention to the child needs for normal healthy development.
Musa stated that Nigerian children suffer violent acts of various kinds through the type of job they do; street hawking and bus conducting.  Inyang in support of this stated that in many parts of this country children suffer various forms of abuse and are exploited as laborers sold into slavery, forced into, prostitution, made objects of pornography, abandoned by parents and subjected to other forms of victimization. He also said that some children are intentionally denied education by parents and even where one is obtained, they are ridiculed by the fact that school fees are not usually available as at when due.
Abuse does not end only in maltreatment and withdrawal of certain privileges from the child it also involves over protectiveness of the child. In some home parents do not expose their children to the daily activities in their homes. The children are not allowed to practice certain skills such as those skills that are required for the care of the home, what these children do is study, play and have their rest, while the house helps are overworked and do not have any time for rest.
Child abuse has many forms these may include child neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and exploitation. All these forms of abuse have great influence on the child’s growth and development. Esu stated that whichever form of abuse a child is exposed to; it has great impact on the growth of the child. For instance neglected and exploited children, according to the author are likely to be associated with forms of vices including delinquency and crime such as truancy, pick pocketing, sexual abuse and armed robbery.
In a bid to solve the problem of  Child’s Right Act (2006), it is the responsibility of the state to take care of children where the immediate parent fail to do so, it is also seen that the provision of the basic amenities for the welfare of the child is also the responsibilities of the state. These amenities are the conceived in the area of health, education, recreation and legal services to ensure the optimal growth and development of the child .
In spite of all these opportunities promised by the government, there is still high incidence of child abuse in our society. Children are still being mal-treated, neglected, trafficked, battered, laboured, exploited, and denied opportunities to attend school. It has been observed of recent that most of the psychological, development problems, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, etc are still occurring; little wonders if such situations are as a result of home background and the maltreatment children are exposed to. This has given impetus for this study which is aimed at finding out the influence of abuse on the health of teenagers.
1.3 Statement of the problem
In Nigeria, while there is a child’s rights act, domestication has been an issue with many states refusing to enforce the law. However, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, conducted a survey in 2017 and maintained that abuse against children is prevalent across the 36 states of the country. According to UNICEF, six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing physical violence.  Edeh Suzan added that the “survey of UNICEF also noted that one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence, while one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative. For instance, Lagos State alone recurrently recorded more than 4,035 cases of sexual and child abuse. Out of 4,035 cases, the government handled only a total of 192 cases comprising 89 violence cases, 62 defilement cases, 18 rape cases, six attempted rape, 10 child neglect and seven child abuse cases. Ninety-two cases are currently being heard in court.
In a bid to solve the problem of child abuse, the government stated in Child’s Right Act (2006) that, it is the responsibility of the state to take care of the children where the immediate parents fail to do so. It is also seen that the provision of basic amenities for the welfare of the child is also the responsibility of the state. These amenities are conceived in the area of health, education, recreation and legal services to ensure the optimal growth and development of children. In spite of all these opportunities/ promised by the government, there is still a great preponderance of child abuse. Teenagers are still mal-treated, battered, neglected, trafficked, exploited and denied opportunities to attend access quality education and health care. This exposes them to teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, depression etc. Hence the need for this study.
1.4 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is to examine the socio-physiological effect of gender, race and religion on crime.
The specific objectives of this study are based on the three sub variables derived from the major objectives of this study:
- To examine child neglect and effect on the teenagers in Nigeria
- To assess child labour and effect on the teenagers in Nigeria
- To look at child battering and effect on the teenagers in Nigeria
1.5 Research methodology
This research requires the use, mainly, of the doctrinal method to achieve the set objective. Therefore this research applies this method whereby information, facts and law are collected and analysed, having due regard to the constitutional provisions governing the topic of this research.
1.6 Significance of the study
The findings of this study will be of benefit to the following group of people: parents/care givers, policy makers/government and the society at large. The findings of this study may enable the parents to understand the effect a positive change of behavior. Finding of the study may also assist the policy makers/government to enact and enforce laws that promote and protect the right and well being of every child to know their right in the families and community.
Findings of the study may be use to create awareness and equip parents, caregivers and guidance. It will also help them to see the needs for proper child care in order to avoid outlive disasters. Findings of this study may also help the society to have knowledge about the effect and consequences of child abuse on child development and adolescents health.
1.7 Analysis of the chapter
After analyzing this chapter, it has been shown that child abuse in Nigeria negatively affects the future of children and destroys the image of the country. Children suffer from various forms of abuse such as child marriages, molestation, child labour, kidnapping, and neglect, among other forms. Many laws and policies were put into place with the purpose of protecting children from abuse. However, they have not been effective for many reasons including poor enforcement mechanisms, poverty, corruption, lack of rehabilitation of sexual offenders, negative attitude of parents, and inefficient judicial processes.
After going through the whole chapter it has brought to light with the realization that the menace of child abuse and its resultant effects on children in Nigeria can only be resolved through a combination of efforts by the government and other relevant stakeholders in order to revamp Nigeria’s educational system, national economy, law enforcement agencies, and judicial institutions.
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