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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 5 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2007

CHILD ABUSE AND THE EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN SCIENCE SUBJECTS

K.V.F. Fatokun

Department of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education
 Nasarawa State University, Keffi

 

Abstract

This study investigates the causes and consequences of child abuse on Secondary School students in the learning of Science subjects in Karu Local Government Area, a suburb of the FederalCapitalCity, Abuja, Nigeria. The survey sample consists of five (5) Secondary Schools across the entire study area, where students, teachers and parents opinions were sampled through the use of validated questionnaire. The results were analysed using simple frequency percentages and the c2 (Chi- Square) test. From the analysis, it is clear that child abuse has very strong psychological effects on the abused child and thus reduces his or her chances of active participation and high performance in the science lessons when compared with other students who are less abused or not abused at all. Among other factors, it was also observed that divorce, separation among spouses, infidelity, economic hardship and poverty leading to child labour, and illiteracy are responsible for most cases of child abuse in a CapitalCity suburb. Children should therefore be provided with enabling environment by both the parents, and the Government to enhance their effectiveness in Science learning.
                                                       
Key words:     Child abuse, frequency percentages, c2 (Chi- Square) tests, Effectiveness in     Science Learning.


Introduction

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. 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, (1997) 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 et al(1970) stated that emotional and sexual abuse are highly noticeable in Nigeria. Oji (1996) observed that babies born by teenage mothers in Nigeria were 625,024 as at the reporting time. According to Walsh (1975), 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 (1993) stated that children from poor homes are more vulnerable to abuse and Todd,(2004) in  his support said that Nigeria, which is are known corrupt nation in Africa is heading towards a dangerous  poverty where her 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 results into a setback on the achievement of the world target of universal primary education by 2015.

Onye (1984), clearly remarked that child abuse is an evidence of poverty.
Aderinto and Okunola (1998), 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 group are children who are at the risk of diseases, exploitation, neglect and violence.


               Table 1: Percentage and Frequency of Child Abuse in Nigeria


Form of Child Abuse

Perception Frequency

Percentage %

Denying the child education

118

61.5

Child Labour

115

59.9

Sending Children to hawk on the streets

99

51.6

Forcing girls into early marriage

85

44.3

Sexual harassment of school children

76

39.6

Girl child prostitution through pimping

51

26.6

Throwing away unwanted children

49

25.5

Gender discrimination such as giving undue preference to boys in educational and career opportunities

70

36.5

Child trafficking

63

32.8

Violence or cruelty and brutality against children

51

26.6

Source:            National Human Right Commission, Abuja (2005).


On 20th of November 1956, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the declaration of the right of the child. In ten (10) carefully worded principle, the declaration asserts the right of the child to enjoy special protection and to be given opportunities and facilities to enable him develop in a healthy and normal manner and in condition of freedom and dignity, to have a name and a nationality from his birth.
There are several effort made by the government to tackle the problem of child abuse in Nigeria which include the following;

  • The establishment of the national human right commission to punish the violators of the child right act.
  • Feeding programme: an initiative of the Federal Government which is being implemented in some pilot school to check the rate of street hawking and attract children to school.
  • UBE (free education from primary school level to junior secondary school) nationwide was launched.
  • The child right implementation committee was constituted. According to the child right act, no child shall be, subject to and forced or exploitative labour, where an offence under child labour is committed by a corporate body or any person, such may be liable on conviction to a fine of N250,000. (Child right act 2003). Where the child is unlawfully removed or taken out of the Republic of Nigeria, imprisonment for a term of 20years is given and anyone who sexually abuse or exploit a child in any manner, is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of fourteen years.

Journal Of Research In National Development Volume 5 No. 2 ISSN 1596 – 8308 December, 2007.

  Non- governmental organizations such as Home Makers Association International in Lagos embarked on rehabilitation project at the beginning of 1993; some street kids were rehabilitated and engaged in vocational lessons.

Statement of the Problem
Despite all the effort of government and non-governmental organization to reduce the rate of child abuse in the nation, there is still the persistence of this evil at an alarming rate. The focus of this study is to investigate parent’s perception (i.e. knowledge) of the different dimension and frequency of child abuse and to determine the effect of abuse on the child. Specifically, this study therefore attempts to find answer to these research questions.

  • What are the effects of child abuse on the academic performance of the child?
  • How does child abuse affect the child’s character building?

Formulation of Hypothesis
1.         H0­ : There is no significant effect of child abuse on the academic performance of
                   the child in science subjects at secondary school level.
H1:  There is significant effect of child abuse on the academic performance of the child in Science subjects at secondary school level.

  • H0: The frequency of abuse has no psychological effect on the child in the society.

          H1:  The frequency of abuse has psychological effects on the child in the society.
3.         H0: Parent perception and attitude has no significant effect on the rate and level of
                  child abuse
H1: Parent’s perception and attitude has significant effects on the rate and level of
      child abuse.

Methodology
Population: the population for this study is made up of three categories, the students, parents and teachers in Karu Local Government area of Nasarawa state.
Sample: the sample consisted of 150 secondary school students drawn from five selected public secondary school in the study area namely; Government Secondary School, Gidan Zakara, Government Secondary School, Kugwar, Government Secondary School, Nyanya, Government Secondary School, Gurku and Government Secondary School ,Ghaghi. These schools are located in the suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Four Science Teaches from each of the Schools were selected while thirty parents evenly distributed over the immediate environment of the schools were randomly selected.

Instrumentation:
Questionnaire was the instrument used for collecting information for this study. Three sets of questionnaire were drawn. A questionnaire consisting of 18 items developed by the researcher was administered to students in the study area after the instrument was adjudged to have got high face and content validity. Another sixteen items questionnaire was administered to the teachers. This instrument sought to the causes and effect of child abuse on student’s academic performance particularly in science. The parents were also giving questionnaire containing 16 items, which sought to find parents perception and contribution to child abuse.


Data Analysis
An item by item analysis of the questionnaire was carried out. The number of respondent who pick the same type of responses were counted and recorded accordingly. Tables containing percentage were used to express the question raises and some findings in this study while Chi- square was used for testing the hypothesis.


Table 2: Extent of child abuse the study area.  n =150

Degree of abuse

Minor

12

8%

Moderate

120

80%

Severe

18

12%

Gender

Boys

36

24%

Girls

114

76%

Table 3: Effect of child abuse as observed by teacher and students. n =170
                 


Effects

Teachers

Students

Involvement in mischievous act

30%

42%

Brutality causing deformity and mental problem

15%

12%

The child feels inferior

72%

61%

Emotional distress

78%

74%

Lack of concentration and interest in science

80%

65%

Poor understanding and assimilation

73%

68%

Manifestation of delinquent behavior

62%

40%

Passive during instruction

80%

63%

Poor performance in examination

75%

68%

Low motivation and aspiration for succeeding / achievement in life

70%

39%

Inability to develop science process skills

80%

56%

Table 4: Parent’s perception and contribution to child abuse. n =30


Engaging students in street hawking during and after school hours.

28%

Single parentage due to divorcement, death or separation because of job location

25%

Illiteracy and lack of interest in science

46%

Encouragement of early marriage.

10%

Late payment of school fees by low income earners whereby students are sent home  for some time during academic session

65%

Inadequate provision of learning materials

35%

Engaging students as house help after schools hours or weekend.

38%

Students sustain injuries when beaten by parents or guardian

6%

Overlabor of children with house work or parents business activities

20%

Children fending for themselves

12%

 

Hypothesis Testing:
At 5% level of significant the expected values were calculated using the formula
                  E =       (column total)(row total)
hjh                                     Grand total
Chi-square was calculated using the formula
         bhghg



Where Fo is the observed frequency and Fe is the expected frequency.
The table below shows the c2 –test analysis for the three formulated hypothesis:

Table 5: c2 –test analysis for the three formulated hypothesis

Hypothesis

c2- calculated

c2- table 

Degrees of Freedom

1

33.8

30.1

19

2

82.8

30.1

19

3

59.5

42.6

29

FIndings and Discussion


It was discovered that c2- calculated for the three hypotheses were greater than the c2- table hence we reject the three null hypotheses and accept the alternate hypothesis. Based on this result obtained, we conclude as follows:

  • There is a significant effect of child abuse on the academic performance of the child in science subjects at the secondary school level.
  • The frequency of the abuse has psychological effect on the abused child in his school and society. This implies that an abuse child can not perfectly adjust to his immediate environment, reacting to life challenges normally and being positive towards situation around him without behaving irrationally or inconsistently due to his affected emotional state.
  • Parents’ perception and attitude has a very significant on the rate and level of child abuse.

The misconception some parents have towards child abuse, their perception, ignorance, carelessness and insensitivity to their children needs and likes and dislikes contributes a lot to the gravity or intensity of child abuse nowadays. Many parents claim innocent and ignorant and easily defend themselves by asserting that they have all the right to treat or handle their children anyhow since they are more or less their properties.
It was also confirmed that because of the socio-economic status of some parents and laziness of others, their children are being over used to generate some funds to finance the family, at the detriment of their educational attainment hence such children are unable to develop and perform adequately at their level (age wise) especially in Science subjects as expected of them.

Conclusion
Considering the socio –cultural, economic and political state of this nation it is clear that child abuse because of poverty had eaten deep into the fabrics of the society especially in the suburbs of the Federal Capital Territory being occupied by low and average income earners in the nation. Nevertheless, the Government should not relent in her effort to defend the right of each child in this country by providing equal access to quality education and entire development of all Nigerian children.
Parents who are not educated must be enlighten on the importance of education and discourage from any form of abuse which they have engaging and as consequently limited the development of this nation.

References
Aderinto, A.A. and Okunola, R.A, (1998). Punc. Pull and sustaining factors of child labour in Nigeria. Ife International Journal, 6, (1),178-184.

Denga, D. I. (1971). Parental Aspiration and Educational Achievement of Children. Educational Research . vol 14, No 1, 61.
 
Dunopo, S.O. (2002) Causative and Sustaining Factors to Street Hawking in Nigeria; Implication for Child Development. Erudition Publisher, 73,-80.

Gelles, R. J. (1997). Intimate Violence in Families, 3rd edition,Thousand Oaks.

Hopper, J. (2004). Child Abuse; Statistics, Research Resources. Child abuse retrieved No 19, from http//www.google.com.

Mba, A.I.(1993). The Problem of Child Abuse in Nigeria. Conference proceedings. Pg 79-82.

Odey, S.T. (1993). Child labour. The Nigeria Chronicle, 29(5). Pg7
Oluwole, G. (2002). House Helps and Madam. The Punch, 17 (1255).

Onye,W. (1984). Child Abuse: a Socio-Psychological Approach. The Statesman, 6(20), 5.

Todd, B. (2004). Assuring Food Nutrition Security in Africa by 2020. Washington DC: International Food and Policy Research Institute.

Walsh, W. M. (1975). Counseling and Adolescents. London , Oxford University Press.

Warner, T. (2000). Causes of Child Abuse. Honolulu: Star Bulleting

World Health Organization (1999). Report of the consultation of child abuse prevention. Geneva