Child Abuse and Neglect: Implication on the Educational Development of the Child

child abuse and neglect - educational development of a child

1.1      Background of the Study

Children make up the segment of society that is the most defenseless, vulnerable, and completely dependent on adults. It is the fault of adults when children end up in areas of natural disasters and catastrophes or zones of military combat operation and become the hostages and victims of physical, sexual, and emotional violence.[i] Child abuse and neglect can have lifelong implications for victims, including on their well-being. Since the last decade, there have been reported cases of violence against children such as torture, kidnapping, shootings, sexual harassment, rape, corporal punishment, and so on. In education today, as in years past, child abuse and neglect is an overwhelming epidemic. Teachers are faced daily with the prospect of having to call human services to report an incident of child abuse and neglect. Study after study has been conducted and an overwhelming amount of them find that child abuse and neglect is a behavior that is handed down from generation to generation and only with education can the behavior be broken.[ii]

Child abuse, commonly known as child maltreatment, was discovered as a social problem and became a matter of intense public concern in Western industrialized countries in the 1870s, although children had been hurt, killed, injured, and exploited by others well before this date. According to NSPCC, it was the horrific physical violence, starvation, and neglect of 9-year-old Mary Ellen in the United States, in 1874, that precipitated the development of the world’s first organization against child cruelty, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and subsequently, in England, the development of the NSPCC in 1889.[iii]

Child abuse and neglect impact several long-term socioeconomic outcomes at least in part because maltreatment affects victims’ educational performance, school attendance, response to teaching and learning. Also, it affects the physical health, mental health, and cognitive reasoning of the victim and the likelihood of being re-victimized. According to Bart Trentham, effects of child abuse and neglect will vary depending on such things as the child’s relationship to the perpetrator, the degree of force used, the duration of abuse, the child’s age, and the child’s pre-abuse functioning.[iv]

Children who have been abused may have delays in physical and/or developmental growth and may find it difficult to trust others. Children don’t grow up and forget their childhood, or their experiences. They carry physical and emotional scars throughout their lives, sometimes repeating the pattern of abuse or neglect with their children. Abused and neglected children can suffer permanent physical impairment, drops in intelligence scores, increases in learning disabilities, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. Additional side effects include suicide, violence, delinquency, attachment disorders, and forms of cruelty.

This research shall systematically evaluate the implications of child abuse and neglect on the educational development of a child.

1.2      Statement of the Problem

Child abuse and neglect is a problem plaguing children today. In addition to negatively impacting the child, child abuse and neglect impacts the family, the school community, and even future generations. According to Twardosz and Lutzker, in 2008, 73.3% of all child abuse victims were victims of neglect. Physical abuse victims represented 16.1% of all victims, sexual abuse 9.1% of all victims, and emotional abuse 7.3% of all victims. The remaining 4.2% of child victims experienced other types of maltreatment such as abandonment, the threat of harm, and in-utero drug exposure.[v]

One of the fundamental problems facing Nigeria today is the fact that the incidences of children who work outside the family to earn a living or to support their families are increasing. Children are known to engage in one form of work or the other, especially within the family. In the urban areas, children between the age of eight years and fifteen are seen hawking or engaged in one form of labor or the other, hence, exposing them to danger.[vi] The situation of most Nigerian children remains critical due to the unique factors of their socio-economic, cultural, traditional, and developmental circumstances. Poor households need money that the family can earn to take care of the family. As a result, children are compelled by circumstances beyond their control to contribute to family income. In the long run, working children are disadvantaged in several ways due to their involvement in all sorts of hazardous works which affect their education, health, and development process.

The majority of Nigerian parents believe that children are God-sent-helpers both economically and for other purposes. It is this notion that led many families into producing many children, especially in the Nigerian agrarian society. This belief has become so accepted in the thinking that few or no attempt has been made to question its validity. Hence, children are victims of ignorance and barbaric cultural practices.

In effect, child abuse and neglect have severe educational implications. Such implications include difficulties in psychological adjustment and performance at school. Studies have consistently emphasized that abused or neglected children on the average score lower on cognitive measures and demonstrate poorer school achievement than their non-abused peers of similar socioeconomic backgrounds.[vii] Orlu East District has witnessed the inhumane act of child abuse, its consequences, and its devastating effect on the educational development of the child. This becomes obvious when one views it from the treatment meted to the children from a broken home and parental neglect. The prevalence of these problems has necessitated the researcher to evaluate the educational implication of child abuse and neglect as it affects children in Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ideato North Section of Orlu East District.

1.3      Objective of the Study

The purpose of the study is to evaluate child abuse and neglect and its implication on the educational development of the child, a case study of the Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ideato North Section of Orlu East District. Distinctively, the objectives are:

  1. To ascertain the reality of incidences of child abuse in Ideato East section.
  2. To evaluate relevant childhood developmental stages
  3. To identify the causes of child abuse and neglect in Ideato North of Orlu District.
  4. To categorize the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect
  5. To analyze the consequences of child abuse and neglect in Ideato North of Orlu District.
  6. To evaluate the implication of child abuse and neglect to the educational development of the child

1.4      Research Question

To guide the study, five research questions have been posed as follows:

  1. Are there cases of child abuse & neglect in Ideato North, Orlu District?
  2. What are the relevant developmental stages of a child?
  3. What are the causes of abuse and neglect in Ideato North of Orlu District?
  4. What signs and symptoms signify child abuse and neglect?
  5. What are the consequences of child abuse and neglect in Ideato North of Orlu District?
  6. What is the impact of child abuse on the educational development of the child?

1.5      Significance of the Study

This research is significant because child abuse and neglect are plaguing society today. It is therefore important to develop a resource guide for parents, educators, and caregivers so that they can understand child abuse and neglect. It is believed that with increased understanding and knowledge parents, educators, and caregivers will be able to better protect and care for children in abusive and neglectful environments.

  1. The outcome of the study will therefore enable parents, educators, and caregivers to have requisite knowledge on how to take care of children.
  2. It will also help them understand the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect to identify children suffering from such influence. This will go a long way to heal such children psychologically.
  3. At completion, this research work guide will provide parents, educators, and caregivers a checklist of sorts to guide them through recognizing the risk factors, understanding the prevalence, and identifying steps to be taken once a student is assumed to be in a situation of abuse and/or neglect.
  4. Finally, it will add to the wealth of available resources on child abuse and neglect for future researchers.

1.6      Delimitation of the Study

            This study is focused on child abuse and neglect: implication on the educational development of the child. The study will be limited to covering Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ideato North Section of Orlu East District in Imo State only. Geographically, the Ideato North section is made up of eight (8) churches, these churches are covered by the researcher by a random selection of respondents from each church. Literarily, the study examines the developmental stages of a child, causes of child abuse and neglect, signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, and its consequences. Finally, the study would evaluate the implications of child abuse and neglect on the educational development of the child.

1.7      Limitations of the Study

            The study is on child abuse and neglect: implication on the educational development of the child, a case study of Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ideato North Section, Orlu East District of Imo State.

Due to time and financial limitations, the researcher selects members of Assemblies of God Nigeria in the Ideato North section only to fill the designed questionnaire. During the research, the researcher encountered the problem of non-immediate compliance with the filling of the questionnaires by the selected members. The result of the analysis is limited to the available data provided by the participants in the survey. However, the researcher overcame the problem of non-compliance by using available participants, as well as lodging the questionnaire to participants for a certain period before retrieval.

Also, due to distance, the researcher was not able to cover the entire Orlu East District of the Assemblies of God Nigeria. Therefore, this research was limited to AG Ideato North section of Orlu East District of Imo State.

1.8      Definition of Terms

Child: a human being between the stages of birth and puberty.

Abuse: The improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit.

Neglect: Failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be physical, medical, educational, or emotional.

Physical neglect: Failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision.

Medical neglect: Failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment

Educational neglect: failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs

Emotional neglect: inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs

Physical abuse. Physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other objects), burning or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child.

Sexual abuse:  Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats, or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. It includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials

Emotional abuse: This can be defined as any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. This is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence to harm the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

Organized abuse: This form is very complex and can involve multiple forms of abuse and occur in the context of abusive family groups and perpetrator networks. Childhood trauma: Childhood trauma includes child abuse in all its forms, neglect, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence in childhood as well as other adverse childhood experiences.

[i] Alekseeva, L. S. Problems of child abuse in the home. 49(5), 2007, 6-18.

[ii] Kyrsha M. Dryden. “Child Abuse and Neglect: A Resource Guide.” The Graduate School University of Wisconsin-Stout. Menomonie, WI, 2009, 1.

[iii] National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children: A pocket history of the NSPCC. (London: NSPCC, 2006). Available at

[iv] Bart Trentham. The School’s Role in the Intervention of Child Abuse and Neglect: A Resource Manual for School Personnel. (Tulsa Community College Professional Continuing Education, Tulsa, Oklahoma. 2007), 6.

[v] Twardosz, S., & Lutzker, J. R. Child maltreatment and the developing brain: A review of Neuroscience Perspectives. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15(1), 2010, 59-68.

[vi] Yesufu, S. Street Trading as an Aspect of Child Abuse and Neglect (A case Study of Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria). (Unpublished Master of Science Dissertation. University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, 2005), 36-47.

[vii] Vondra, J. I., Barnett, D., & Cicchetti, D. Self-concept, motivation, and competence among preschoolers from maltreating and comparison families. Child Abuse and Neglect, 14, 1990, 525-540.

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