THE PERCEPTION OF FEELINGS OF THE PUBLIC OVER MASS MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHILD LABOUR, CHILD TRAFFICKING AND GIRL CHILD MARRIAGE IN NIGERIA.
1.1 Background of the Study
Child labour and trafficking are essentially understood as encompassing monetary or non monetary activities which are mentally physically, morally and socially hazardous for children below 15 years of age (UNICEF, 2005). Child labour is any work that harms children or keeps them from attending school (Public Education Project 2010, p.96). “Around the world, the growing gaps between the rich and the poor in recent years have forced millions of young children out of school and into work; the source added. The International Labour Organization (2006, p.106) also defined child labour as “any work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illness and or / left to fend for themselves on the street often at a very early age.
Child trafficking, on the other hand, is the illegal movement of children, typically for the purpose of forced labour or sexual exploitation. According to wikipedia.com, child trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring and / or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation”, though the statistics regarding the magnitude of child trafficking are difficult to obtain. Children can be sold either in kind or cash for the purpose of forced labour, sexual abuse or for armed forces a including militancy.
Understanding of child trafficking, child labour and child- marriage with respect to the media coverage of the menace in Enugu is enormous and effective. The public have acknowledged the fact that any form of child abuse is mimical and should always support mass media campaigns against maltreatment of children in the name of child labour, marriage and trafficking. Asogwa (2008,p.187) argued that child marriage in Nusukka, Abakaliki Isiala Mba Ano, Bende and Isioche (case study of South Eastern Zone) is no longer business as usual”. He observed that parents now take time to train their children/ wards in school instead of sending them for marriage, apprentice and servitudes. He attributed the stride to the media effort in the fight against child abuse in Igbo land. The fact remains that these areas sampled by the researcher remained the epicenter of one of child abuse. They were carefully selected to represent the five states of the south east.
The public perceive media coverage of child abuse as a serous issue through the defunct Ebonyi Broadcasting Service (ESBS) radio between 2000 and 2005 (Nwambe 2009, p.9). He argued that “people of Abakaliki had benefited from the sonorous programme anchored by the late Ogbonnaya Abba, adding that “children who were exposed to hazardous child labour were saved from servitudes, and converted them into education”. Nwamba also stressed that the public saw the programme as an effective one that deviated children in the society into being responsible and conscious of their rights in the society.
During pre-independence era, child labour, trafficking and marriage was a lucrative trend among the Igbos, particularly in Enugu, the eastern heartland. According to Igbokwe (2000, p.38), this was the most booming business in the eastern handwork and business trip on settlement basis. The notion that children by so doing shall become rich contributed in child abuse. He also argued that victims of such abuse were denied basic education. Sambe (2010, p.70) also stressed that child abuse flourished during pre- independence period because the media lacked proper coverage of child abuse as a campaign strategy
The problem with residents of Enugu urban in terms of child labour is that among NTA, ETV, Radio Nigeria, Sunrise FM, Dream FM and Solid FM, no one has ever designed a powerful programme specifically on child labour, trafficking and marriage and a means to sensitize the child or to empower the victims. In a study conducted by Ugwu Julius (2011, p.38), it was found that the rate of child marriage, child trafficking and child labour is drastically reducing in among children in Enugu urban, not due to effective media coverage but as a result of education attained by parents and guardians in the area. The scholar also found that the residents of Enugu metropolis are more educated than those living in Onitsha where there is high cases of child abuse. He offered an estimate of 68% who live in the city as parents obtained at least SSCE thereby developing xenophobia towards any form of child abuse. Not withstanding he observed that the media such as The Sun and This Day deserved an encomium for its coverage of child abuse using its pages
The act of keeping house maid among residents still looms inspite of mass media campaign against child abuse. Okoye and Tanyi (2010, p.27) stressed that many children work under exploitative conditions for their masters/ladies with many being denied the right to proper education. They observed that some children under exploitative condition in Enugu are seen hawking groundnuts, banana, moi-moi, etc. for hours, in the bid to make gains for their unsatisfied guardians. The fact that the public is not fully aware of adverse effect of child labour is noted by the researcher among Enugu residents
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Many children work under exploitative conditions that apart from totaling precluding schooling have harmful effects on their physical conditions and mental health, long working hours for those exposed to child labour, are often responsible for fatigue that can cause accidents, and impair intellectual development, Okoye and Tanyi (2010, p.70) It has also been reported by Barker and Knaul (1999, p.24) that large numbers of children work under conditions, which expose them to substances with long latency period. Such substances include asbestos, which increases the chance of contracting chromic occupational disease such as asbestosis or lung cancer in young adulthood. Some are also exposed to hazardous conditions which can lead to chemical and biological hazard.
Therefore, the issues are what have the public to say about mass media in the language against child marriage, trafficking and labour in Enugu metropolis? Some Enugu urban residents have asked why should there be any form of child abuse despite effort of the media to educate the public on dangers of abuse on the children. It is also necessary to assess activities of the media and other social institutions in the fight to reduce the labour, trafficking and marriage in the society despite rumours that the media may have done little to same children from abuse in the area. What should have been reactions of the public as the media keep fighting all forms of child labour and trafficking in Enugu urban?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of the study is to examine the perception of feelings of the public over mass media coverage of child labour, child trafficking and girl child marriage in Nigeria. Specifically, other objectives are as follow:
1. To investigate the role of the media in the fight against child labour, trafficking and marriage in Nigeria
2. To assess the public perception/ opinion on the war against the widespread of child- labour, trafficking and early marriage by the media
3. To examine public perception of the media as powerful instrument to fight the obnoxious practices against children in Nigeria.
4. To evaluate and determined extent in which the public in Enugu urban see empowerment of the victims of child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in the society.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The study shall keep the media and other social institutions to review their campaign/ programmes or policies aimed at wedging war against child labour, trafficking and child marriage with view to re- strategize efforts to avert the menace in Nigeria
Nigerian women, especially the victims of child labour, marriage and trafficking shall be empowered/ encouraged by this study because it shall guide, educate, and sensitize them on how to live a better life despite the challenges they face
The growing incidents of child labour and other related cases shall be reduced, if not drastically averted. The children shall enjoy the Fundamental Human Rights and other privileges in the society. Those who are already victims shall be liberated and enjoyed to live a free and better life in the society.
1.5 Research Questions
1. Do the media play effective role in the fight against child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in Enugu urban?
2. Do the public perceive the media as effective instrument in the fight against the practices of child labour, trafficking and child marriage?
3. Are there forms of child abuse despite media efforts to reduce it among children in Enugu urban?
4. Do the public commend the media in the fight against child labour, trafficking and marriage in Enugu urban?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
Eze and Agbo (2005, p.204) described hypothesis as an intelligent guess or hunches which researchers formulate to guide his/her search for solutions of the problems identified and must be proved or disproved.” They are
H1: The media play effective role in the fight against child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in Enugu urban.
H0: The media do not play effective role in the fight against child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in Enugu urban.
H2: The public perceive the media as an effective instrument in the fight against the practices of child labour, trafficking and child marriage.
H0: The public do not perceive the media as an effective instrument on the fight against the practices of child labour, trafficking and child marriage.
H3: There are forms of child abuse despite media efforts to reduce it among children in Enugu urban.
Ho: There are no forms of child abuse despite media efforts to reduce of among children in Enugu urban
H4: The public commend the media in the fight against child labour trafficking and marriage in Enugu urban.
Ho: The public do not commend the media in the fight against child labour trafficking and marriage in Enugu urban.
1.7 Theoretical Frameworks
As the study focuses on the evolution of public feeling understanding and perception of media message with respect to its campaign against child labour, trafficking and marriage, adoption of selective perception theory is preferred as the theoretical framework.
According to Johnson Cartee and Copeland (1997, p.30) this theory explains that’ people skew their perception to concede with what they desire it is not possible to complete, avoid all discrepant message. When exposure to abuse dissonant message occurred, the phenomenon of selective perception often follows”, they added. Sincere (2013, p.3) says that selective perception is a perceptual process in which a person only perceives what he desire to and sets aside or ignores other perception or view points
This is the tendency to interpret communicated messages in terms of one’s existing attitude. People of distinct psychological character see media content in different ways. This depends on factors such as age, values, family, opinions, etc, selective perception is influenced by social relationship. Eze (2011, p.144) noted that selective perception is also referred to as the” mental or psychological recasting of a message so that its meaning is in line with a persons beliefs and attitude” It also predicts that people will interpret message in a manner consistent with pre-existing attitudes and beliefs.
This theory is chosen because the researcher expects to determine how residents of Enugu urban understand mass median in its role to stop child labour, child trafficking and child marriage. The assessment is based on individual perception on general views of the people towards the subject matter under study. The public is expected to perceive the media and its responsibility either to be positive or negative, effective or ineffective its in the coverage of child abuse in Enugu metropolis.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study is based on the assessment of public perception of the media reportage of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking in Nigeria, especially among Enugu urban residents. The study shall also investigate the role of the media in the fight against these challenge and the residents think. About media as it carried its traditional responsibility of educating, sensitizing and alerting the society danger of child labour, trafficking and early marriage.
1.9 Limitations of the Study
The first clear weakness of the study is lack of enough money to carry out the study to a larger extent. Limited timeframe is another challenge the researcher encountered which hindered the study.
Again, the researcher grappled difficulty trying to get some materials relevant to the study which are not within the geographical area of the study.
1.10 Definition of terms
Conceptual Definition of Terms
i. Public: The people in general, regardless of membership of any particular groups.
ii. Perception: The state of being conscious in understanding of something.
iii. Media: Any channel which allows dissemination and exchange of information/idea from one point to another such as radio, television, computers newspaper/ magazines, etc.
iv. Coverage: An amount by which something or someone is covered, being under focus of something.
v. Child Labour: This is any work that deprives children of their potentials, their dignity, and which is harmful to their physical and mental development
vi. Child Trafficking: This is the selling of children to another person for sexual or labour purpose
vii. Child Marriage: This refers to any marriage of a child younger than 18 years old.
Operational Definition of Terms
i. Public: The masses who live in various places, especially those who perceive media message about child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in Nigeria.
ii. Perception: Understanding of something especially media message on child labour, child marriage and trafficking about the general public.
iii. Media: Channels of communication through which the public perceive its message such as information about child labour and other related abuses.
iv. Coverage: Being under focus of media like the case of child Labour, trafficking and early marriage.
v. Child labour: Any act of making a person under 18 years to work long hours which are harmful to his/her mental, physical and emotional development.
vi. Child Trafficking: Any monetary or non- monetary exchange of children for sexual or military exploitative which can hamper the fundamental rights of children in Nigeria.
vii. Child Marriage: Any early marriage of a male or female child who is younger than 18 years of age in Nigeria.