MODERN CHILD ABUSE AND NATION BUILDING A Theoretical Approach from Nigeria
The Child is an important tool in the family and a dream made come true in a country's endeavours towards developmental process. In spite of these numerous roles performed by children, its abusiveness has negatively affected its progresses. This article x-rays the abusive and humiliating nature of the child in relations to the setback it has inflicted on the socio-economic activities of Nigerian society. It is on this context that this article examined the modern child abuse and nation building with a theoretical approach from Nigeria. Some issues like the following were theoretically approached Conceptual analysis of child abuse, forms of child abuse, features of modern child abuse in Nigeria, short and long term effect of child abuse and effect of child abuse on nation building.INTRODUCTION
Basically, human society is a complex environment where one can find different forms of social phenomena in which a society develop and operate simultaneously, though human society still undergoes setback in terms of social development in one from or the other. One major phenomenon that is responsible for the setback in the development of human society is "Child abuse". This is a global phenomenon that over the years has attracted the attention of both governmental and non-governmental organisations in Nigeria; this social problem has been dwelling with us and requires quick attention.
Generally, the conception of child abuse is therefore important for the appreciation of the problem of abused children in Nigeria. This is because very few people can differentiate between "Child" and "Child abuse", the conception of the right of the child specifies the minimum standards for the well-being of children ranging from the most basic right of survival to the right for the development of child's full potential .It should be noted that part of a child's right is the need to cater for their needs so that they will develop into a confident and well adjusted young adult, because a child needs a healthy dose of love, care, discipline, nurturing and support so that he will develop into a confident well-adjusted adult. The future of a chid is indeed important to be catered for, so as to socialize him into a befitting human society; monitoring children well and guiding them properly from social hazards could do this. There are so many views about what constitutes child abuse; this is seen as a broad spectrum of maltreatment, which however includes emotional deprivation from the parents, malnutrition and child neglect.
Kempe (1962) defined child abuse as a situation in which a child is suffering from serious physical injury inflicted upon him by any other accidental means. He opined further that child abuse is a clinical condition in which child's health, moral or emotional well-being is endangered by intentional act of his parents or guardian. Consequently, individual can also see child abuse as embracing any act of commission or omission, institution or society as a whole and any conditions resulting from such intentional acts which deprives children of equal rights and liberties or interfere with their optimal development. This is viewed from the angle that children have certain rights whose violations may disrupt their life chances forever. In actual fact, child abuse and neglect covers a wide range of both physical and emotional abuse of children and that there are some factors responsible for this, these are poverty, educational qualification, culture, dysfunction of the family, religion, early marriage and so on.
Child abuse has been seen as a ubiquitous phenomenon that needs urgent attention to be faced off because of its decadence on nation building, on this point, this article conceptualize some terms for academic understanding.
A child is any young person under the age of 18 years, a child could be a boy or girl i.e. anyone that is referred to as a child right from the time he or she has been given birth to until they are aged 18.A child may exhibit certain qualities such as innocence and trust.
The commercialization of children is dangerous and its evil, this unethical and demoralizing acts by parents portrays them as slave drivers, whose main aim of bringing forth a child is for exploration for their selfish means, e.g. in Africa and Nigeria in particular, parents sees children as the most profitable investment they have and as such they have to reproduce massively for them to earn more.
The National information on child abuse define the term "Child abuse" as any behaviour directed towards a child by a parent, guardian, care, other family member or adult, that endangers a child's physical or emotional health and development. It is a national problem, which has increased to epidemic proportions in United States. More than 2.5 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States annually with hundreds of death related to child abuse.
Kempe (1962) discovered what he called "battered child syndrome" and referred it to a clinical condition in young children invariably under three years of age who had received physical abuse usually from parents. He further claimed that a battered child is always dull morally and this affects the development process of a child's emotional well-being and could result to permanent mental disability in child.
Coughlin B.J (1972) also proposed another dimension with regards to children's right, which sees it as a neglected aspect of human rights. He emphasized a specified theme, which is the one relating to child's welfare: those children have specific rights to be protected and he even states the reason for their dependency. Any attempt to assess the cultural implication of child abuse and neglect, the first task is to employ culturally accepted definition to avoid ethnocentrism position of considering one set of cultural values and practices preferable and indeed superior to other (Korbin 1981).
Korbin (1981) further stressed in his study and identified three levels at which cultural consideration come into play in identifying child abuse and neglect, cross-culturally on the first level are practices viewed as acceptable by one culture but abusive or neglectful by others. It is in this reading that cultural conflict can compound the definition of child maltreatment. The second definitional level makes it clear that while culture vary in their definition of child abuse and neglect, each group nevertheless have criteria for identifying behaviours that are outside the realm of acceptable child abuse or neglect than behaviour classified as such on the basis of cultural differences. Societal abuse and neglect is the third level of concern. Conditions such as poverty, inadequate housing, poor health care, malnutrition, unemployment and other conditions, which in no doubt seriously compromise the survival and well-being children around the world.
Young (1964) posited that child abuse and neglect are integral part of modern world including African society, and Nigeria in particular, corporal punishment was widely given prescribed in the African society for disobedient in child, these include caning and in some communities in Nigeria, painful punishment such as rubbing pepper into the genital region are practised.
FEATURES OF MODERN CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA
Most abusive and neglected children have been implicated in the aetiology of child abuse and neglected in western nations. These features may be tangible as in low birth weight, prematurity, prolonged illness in early childhood development days. All these may also invoke perception on the part of parents that their child is somewhat different. In another development, there are categories of children are more vulnerable to abuse. They include illegitimate children, adopted children, deformed children and female children and children that are reared in broken homes.
Trafficked children are also more exposed to abuse because such are forced into labour such as domestic services, shop attendance, catering services head-loading, factory worker, hawking and prostitution. All these are exploitative in nature and slave-like. For example in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, children were annually taken to some part of Africa to work as house helps and factory workers, this however have a great health hazards on child's future potential development. These are exploitative in nature and slave-like. For example, as domestic workers, they are subjected to about 12-18 hours of cleaning, baby-care, cooking and other forms of household and hard work. Such children are the first to get up in the morning and the last to go to bed. Most of them are denied any form of informal vocational training. They are poorly clothed and are kept under very low conditions of living. Children who serve as attendance in shops, hotels and canteens are also prone to being abuse.
FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse can broadly be classified into four categories, which include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and emotional neglect.
An adult to a child refers this to as the wilful injury. It is an act carried out with the intention or perceived intention of causing physical pain or injury to another person (Gelles and Straus 1979). Physical abuse may come in form of beating, battering, caning, spanking, slapping, choking, punching and biting.
The legal and practical research definitions of sexual abuse require the following two elements:
(i) Sexual activities involving a child
(ii) The existence of an "abuse condition"
This however indicates lack of co sensuality (Faller 1993: Finkelhor 1994).
Sexual activities refer to behaviours intended for sexual stimulation; such activities need not involve physical contact leading to separate definitions for "contact sexual abuse" and non-contact sexual abuse. Sexual abuse occurs when adults use children for sexual gratification or expose them to sexual activities. Sexual abuse may begin with kissing or fondling and progresses to more intrusive sexual acts such as oral sex and vaginal or oral penetration.
Emotional abuse destroys a child's self esteem. Such abuse commonly includes repeated verbal abuse of a child in the form of shouting, threats, and degrading or humiliating criticism. Other confinement such as shutting a child in a dark closet and isolation, such as denying child friends
This refers to the emotional deprivation i.e. lack of caring, loving and empathy towards the child. This can come in form cold and distant behaviours, punishment for similar behaviours, inconsistent rewards and so on. Another form of emotional neglect involves failing to meet a child's basic education needs, either by failing to enrol a child In school or by permitting a child to skip school frequently.
SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM EFFECT OF CHILD ABUSE
This article lays more emphasis on effects of child on child and thus makes a clear conception of the concept "Child abuse". The short-term effect of child abuse may be anxiety, agitation and guilt feelings. Long time effect can lead to neurotic disorders, adverse effect on school work (Kelly 1988; Morgan and Zedner 1992). Children suffering abuse develop a range of maladaptive, anti-social and self-destructive behaviors and thoughts by trying to cope with the abuse and by trying to understand the situation and why the abuse is happening.
Long-term effects also include depression, self-descriptive behaviour, feelings of isolation, stigma and poor-white (Morgan and Zedner 1992). Another disturbing aspect of abuse is the experiential restraint it puts on children. If a child fears doing anything new because of the chance that it will lead to a violent attack or because an abusive parent keeps extremely tight control over them, the child will lose his or her sense of curiosity and wonder at the world and will stop trying new things and exercising his or her mind. That child will never achieve his or her intellectual potential. Another aspect of abuse, which cannot be ignored, is the physical stress it puts on a child. Multiple exposures to violence and trauma cause what's known as autonomic and endocrine hyper arousal. Basically it means the victim gets stressed out. When a person experiences this hyper arousal over and over again, there are permanent physiological changes.
EFFECTS OF CHILD ABUSE ON NATION BUILDING
As the impact of child abuse affects the child, it also affects nation building. Nigeria's children are the future leaders of tomorrow and the quality of tomorrow's leader is dependent on the quality of education and social supports given to them today. If steps are not taken to seriously review the commitment level to Nigerian youth, the repressions can be quite precarious on both social and economic status of the country in the next decades.
Nigeria's problem on child abuse is within its leadership. It is often said that while leaders are born, some are groomed or made. Or how can a child with low esteem or a child that lacks self-confidence and quality education lead a country? Most children are denied education, basic standards of living and fundamental human rights, dignity and freedom in negation of the Nigerian constitution and international instruments for the protection of the rights of the child.
Again, the most destructive element of nation building is child abuse because it destroys the roots of the child's existence and future. Children have been variously described as the leaders of tomorrow, man's ticket of continuity on earth. If these children are not well catered for, it constitutes a threat to nation building because it tends to deprive mill ions of children of their rights, hopes, of education, inflict emotional and mental depression and seriously undermines Nigeria's hope for economic uplift.
The theory was developed by Reckless in the 1950s and 1960s. It has two reinforcing elements: an inner control system and an outer control system. Reckless (1973) defines the ingredients of inner containment as self-components such as frustration, motives, drives, restlessness, disappointments, feelings of inferiority stress. While the outer containment or external regulators represents the structural buffers in the person's immediate social world or environment that can hold him with bonds, they are conditions associated with poverty, deprivation, conflict and discord, external restraint, minority group status and limited access to success.
According to containment theorist, the reinforcement of these two ingredients forces an individual to act beyond control in certain ways. It explained that the reinforcement of both external and internal controls leads to attitudes like beating, neglect, and the use of abusive words, which constitutes various forms of child abuse.
Conflict theorist perceived child abuse as a result of social inequality and social structures. They argued that the society is structured such that one group benefits more than the other. According to Marxian perspective, the rich dominated the means and the control of production over the poor. This can be seen in relation to child abuse because children in this context are poor and been exploited by the powerful. They further see elements of society as a contributing factor to the vision of inequality in human society. For example, the family, government, religion and other institutions of the society foster and legitimize the power and privileges of some groups at the expense of others. While the containment focuses on the rot cause of child abuse, the conflict theory laid emphasis on prevalence of child abuse and the contribution of social institutions like family to child abuse.
Conclusively, the parents that live under low economic standards and inability to provide good and quality education for their children so as to make them become good leaders in future should imbibe a method of economically taking care of their children education. It can also be concluded that children who have parent with high standards of living have low tendencies of being abusive while those with low standard of living have higher tendencies of being abusive due to their socio-economic status.
Again, it can be concluded that most abused children often have low mental-development and low esteem, which in turn affects the society and the prospect of nation building. This is because certain conditions of life inhibit their functioning as future leaders in their society, mostly through their socio-economic and educational background.
Child abuse has been so prominent in Nigeria such to an extent that the so-called leaders of tomorrow are maltreated everywhere across the country. For this reason, the following recommendations have been proffered to tackle this social menace.
Parents should dedicate more time to the socialization and training of their wards so as to prevent child from engaging in any form of unauthorized activities in the society.
Parents, caretakers who suspects abuse or whose ward have being abused should seek medical examination and psychological constitution immediately.
It is also recommended that a family size should be commensurate with its means as it has been shown that families with low income are not likely to produce diligence and such parents were relatively found common in abusing children.
Non-governmental organizations (NGO) should be more involved in management of child abuse reduction strategies, because of their closeness to the people at the grass root
There should be eradication or reduction of poverty i.e. market improvement in the employment and income status of the majority of Nigerian households. Also there should be abrogation of existing policies, which may worsen the situation of income inequality.
Again, education policy should be reviewed to ensure high performance of Nigerian children in high and quality education generally.
The low level of societal perception of children in Nigeria makes Nigerians readily accept and ignore the criminality of abusing children.
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