The Perception Of Students On The Effect Of Child Abuse And Neglect On The Academic Performance Of Secondary School Students ( A Case Study Of Enugu East Local Government Area)

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Background of the Study

Education is an instrument of social, mental and economic development through which right values and attitude for proper development are inculcated. Child abuse and its consequences which is the unjust treatment given to a child, disturb this developmental process. It is a practice whereby children are battered, deprived of some basic needs in the home and at school. The saying that the child is the father of the man recognizes the fact that the quality of today’s child will determine the quality of tomorrow’s man.

This study was necessitated by the researchers encounter with dismay the multitude of school age children roaming in the street during school hours. They hawk goods, wash cars, beg for food etc. these activities are deprivation of the children’s right to education. Apart from that, they are sent to hawk on daily basis and warned not to return with the unsold goods. Girls turned to promiscuity and boys will turn to stealing in order to make up the money for their mistress or masters as the case may be. In this process, some are killed and others may run on cars when crossing road.

Truly, the present economic hardship in the country is a fascination or thus child abuse. Consequently, Nigerian children are highly vulnerable to income gap or poverty, cultural values, religious incidence and unacceptable economic and social factor. These include urbanization and migration; health challenges; environmental intimidation; domestic violence and family disintegration; social exclusion and discrimination; harmful traditional practices based on cultural values, Nicola et al (2012). It is assumed that poverty is the single largest factor behind child abuse, on the religious and socio-cultural values and unequal gender relations are also important determinants. In Nigeria, mostly, girls are trafficked primarily into domestic service, street hawking and commercial sexual exploitation. While boys tend to be trafficked into street vending, agriculture, mining, petty crime and the drug trade, Nicola et al (2012). Thus, to a reasonable extent, the economy has placed the Nigerian child in fosterage, with its associated risks and abuse. In this condition, education of the child becomes the victim of economic down turn of the nation. The result of this abusing condition and the cumulative influence of these activities may have poor academic performance as its consequences.

The situation as it may accord Nicola et al (2012) reveals that approximated 15 million Nigerian children are working in Nigeria, in different hubs of the economy, informal or semi-formal sectors. Thus the economic necessity significantly seems to be the driven force of the children who are often forced into long hours and dangerous situation that are harmful, because physiological, psychological and growth are not appropriate. The effort to survive has exposed them to accidents, violence, sexual exploitation and HIV infection.

Child abuse in Nigerian and other parts of the world are cancerous because the environments, socio-political and economic developments of children are jeopardized at the altar of neglect. The Nigerian child and like every other child in the world has equal right to live and such protect them from trampling on their right. It is noteworthy, that almost parts of the country are involved in child abuse. Children in Nigeria are exposed vulnerably to engage in street/highway hawking, exploitative labor and domestic help, street begging and girl-child marriage, illiteracy and female genital mutilation. However, championing the campaign against child abuse in Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria enacts Child Right Act 2003 with the view to curtail the menace of child abuses in Nigeria and to join hands in the campaign of giving the child a place in the country as the future hope of a nation.

The offshoot of this child abuse and the consequences is examination malpractice to make for academic deficiencies resulting from failure to attend school regularly and devotion to class activities.

Thus, a child generally is a boy or a girl of any age between infancy and adolescence. But for the convenience of law, a definite age bracket is ascribed to a child. According to Eigbe (1996), a child in the southern states in Nigeria is a person between the age of 0 – 14years and in northern states between 0 – 12years.

Child abuse is a type of physical or mental injury or maltreatment of a person who is regarded as a child. The definition of child abuse has been expanded considerably to include more than just the beaten and sexually abuse child. It extends to any condition injurious to child’s physical or emotional health that has been inflicted by parents, guidance or other caretakers and schoolmates. Definite knowledge as to the nature and scope of child abuse appears to be lacking due to the difficulties associated with the definition of the concept as well as the cross cultural global issue regarding what is and what is not child abuse. In Western orientation, child abuse extends to various misuses of children, especially with regards to functions relating to certain responsibilities such as “child labor” either in the form of “farm work “, or street hawking which many children in African cultural context embark upon as an acquired work rule in an extended family system.

Children belong to the defenseless and disadvantaged group. In almost parts of Nigeria today, children are crying for freedom; freedom from oppression and suppression; freedom to go to school; freedom to make decision that affect their lives; they wants their rights as a human. They should not be harmed or maltreated in any way as they are incapable of appreciating the dangers they face and the adverse effects which ill treatment have on their future development.

However, research has shown that experiences of childhood abuse and neglect can significantly impact upon all domains of a child’s or young person’s development including physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioral and social. For those children and young people involved in the child protection system, such experiences of abuse and/or neglect and the resulting impacts can lead to less than optimal educational and life outcomes.

To understand the multiple causes and effects of child abuse, children’s experiences must be examined within a developmental and family context. This context includes how children perceive the emotional climate of their family, how they interprets acts of abuse and violence directed by loved ones towards them, and what coping abilities and resources they have available to compensate for stressful, inadequate care giving. Abused children have typically grown up in a family context that fails to provide appropriate developmental opportunities and stimulations, and one that is inconsistent and disorganized. While recognizing that the experiences of each child victim differ in important ways from those of other victims, there are some patterns that describe importance, common features of their child rearing environments. Moreover, theories presume that abuse interferes with ongoing development in pervasive and damaging ways. Therefore evidence of developmental impairments and outcomes across studies of related, but different, forms of abuse should converge on similar dimensions.

To help regions and schools support students, this paper provides an overview of research findings in relation to: the impacts of abuse and neglect; the resulting effect on educational achievement; and strategies to enhance academic, social and emotional functioning and participation in school activities. Importantly, the perception of students on child abuse and its effects on academics will give us direct information on how they are affected.

Statement of the Problem

Enugu East Local Government Area has witnessed inhuman act of child abuse and its devastating effect on the child development. This becomes obvious when viewed from the treatment meted to the children from broken homes and parental neglect.

The following are some abuse and consequences meted on a child;

  1. Inadequate care for the children by parents and guardians in terms of providing basic needs.
  2. Deprivation of certain children’s right both in the home and at school.
  3. Sexual abuse and child trafficking
  4. Exposure to danger of death or harm through kidnapping.
  5. Misuse of children in various working areas.

Purpose of the Study

The study is intended to establish the perception of students on the effect of child abuse and neglect on the academic performance of secondary school students in Enugu East Local Government Area. Specifically the study intends to find out the following:

  1. To determine the forms of abuse and neglect experienced by secondary school students in their homes, communities and schools.
  2. To ascertain how child abuse influences negatively the behavior of children involved.
  3. To identify the extent child abuse affects the academic performance of children in secondary school.


Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the various forms of abuse and neglect experienced by students in secondary school?
  2. In what ways does child abuse influence negatively the behavior of children?
  3. How does child abuse affect the academic performance of children involved?

 Significance of the Study

The findings of the study may have the following implications:

It will enable parents and guardians to have an alternative way to child rearing and avert abuse of children. There will be improvement on children enrolment in the school as the findings of the study will be known to the society at large.

The study will also help educational personnel to understand what constitute child abuse and its consequences like working on the teacher’s farm during school hours, sex abuse by senior students, lack of teaching materials etc and its perpetuating force and effect so that they will know where and how to start combating it.

This study will also help the government to know the various forms of child abuse prevalent in Enugu East Local Government Area and the ways to curb it.

This study will also be beneficial to researchers as it will provide much needed reference materials at higher levels of learning.

Scope of the Study

This study is limited to effects of child abuse and its effects on educational performance of secondary school students. The research will be carried out using students of government owned schools in Enugu East Local Government of Enugu State.

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The Perception Of Students On The Effect Of Child Abuse And Neglect On The Academic Performance Of Secondary School Students  ( A Case Study Of Enugu East Local Government Area)