Child abuse can have lifelong implications for victims, including 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. According to Alekseeva, 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]
Children make up the segment of society that is the most defenseless, vulnerable, and completely dependent on adults. 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/or neglect. Kyrsha Dryden noted that studies have 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 is also called child maltreatment. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children noted that child abuse 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]
On his own, Trentham noted that 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 him, the 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]
In the Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, child abuse has been on the increase. This is partially due to the nature of the environment. Being a riverine area, the people are not all that exposed to the enlightenment that could forestall the cases of child abuse like education and mass media. Child abuse in the area is pronounced in early marriage, child labor, and child pregnancy. The researcher has been disturbed by this ugly trend in the area, hence, her venture into this project as a contribution aimed at proffering solutions to the problem.
Children who have been abused may have delays in physical and/or developmental growth and may find it difficult to trust others. 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, drug, and alcohol abuse. Additional side effects include suicide, violence, delinquency, attachment disorders, and forms of cruelty.
This research will evaluate the causes, effects, and remedies of child abuse.
Many people have difficulty understanding why any person would hurt a child. The public often assumes that people who abuse their children suffer from mental disorders, but fewer than 10 percent of abusers have mental illnesses. According to Family Resource Center, most abusers love their children but tend to have less patience and less mature personalities than other parents.[v] These traits make it difficult to cope with the demands of their children and increase the likelihood of physical or emotional abuse.
One of the fundamental problems facing Andoni Local Government 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. Yesufu noted that 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 Andoni children remains critical due to the unique factors of their socio-economic, cultural, traditional, and developmental circumstances. 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 Andoni’s 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 Andoni Local Government Area. 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 has several causes, effects, and remedies. Some effects include difficulties in psychological adjustment and performance at schools in Andoni Local Government. Vondra, Barnett & Cicchetti emphasized that abused children on the average score lower on cognitive measures and demonstrate poorer school achievement than their non-abused peers of similar socioeconomic backgrounds.[vii]
Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State has witnessed the inhumane act of child abuse, its causes, and its devastating effect on the child. This becomes obvious when one views it from the treatment meted to the child from a broken home and parental neglect. The prevalence of these problems has necessitated the researcher to evaluate the causes, effects, and remedies of child abuse in Andoni LG of Rivers State.
The purpose of the study is to evaluate child abuse: causes, effects, and remedies, a case study of the Andoni Local Government. The key objectives are:
- To analyze the childhood stages of development
- To identify the causes of child abuse in the Andoni Local Government Area.
- To evaluate the effects of child abuse in the Andoni Local Government Area.
- To classify the signs and symptoms of child abuse.
- To identify remedies and treatments of child abuse.
As a guide to the study, four research questions have been identified as follows:
- What are the causes of child abuse in the Andoni Local Government Area?
- What are the effects of child abuse in the Andoni Local Government Area?
- What are the signs and symptoms of child abuse found in the Andoni Local Government Area?
- How can child abuse be remedied and treated in Andoni Local Government Area?
This research is significant because child abuse is plaguing society today, especially, in Andoni’s Local Government Area. It is therefore important to develop a resource guide for parents, guardians, and educators so that they can understand child abuse. It is believed that with increased understanding and knowledge parents, guardians and educators will be able to better protect and care for children in abusive and neglectful environments.
- This study will therefore enable parents, guardians, and educators to have requisite knowledge on how to take care of children.
- It will also help them understand the causes, effects, signs, and symptoms of child abuse to identifying children suffering from such influence.
- At completion, this resource guide will provide parents, guardians, and educators a checklist of sorts to guide them through recognizing the risk factors, understanding the prevalence and identifying steps to be taken once a child is assumed to be in a situation of abuse and/or neglect.
- Also, it will provide a wealth of knowledge to pastors and young ministers in understanding when a child is abused and the steps to remedy the situation.
- Finally, it will add to the wealth of available resources on child abuse for students and future researchers.
This study is focused on child abuse: causes, effects, and remedies. The study will be limited to covering Andoni Local Government Area in Rivers State only. Andoni LG is made up of four (4) clans and twenty-four (21) communities, these communities are covered by the researcher by random selection of respondents from each community. The study examines the stages of development of a child, causes of child abuse, signs, and symptoms of child abuse, effects of child abuse, and remedies to child abuse.
The study is on child abuse: causes, effects, and remedies, a case study of Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Due to time and financial limitations, the researcher selects enlightened members of each community in Andoni Local Government 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. The riverine nature of the area made movement difficult. 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 Andoni Local Government Area. Therefore, this research was limited to selected participants in Andoni Local Government Area.
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: 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: Includes 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 a 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. 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 www.nspcc.org.uk.
[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] Family Resource Center. The Causes of Child Abuse. (Kingshighway: St. Louis. 2016), 21.
[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.
[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.