ABSTRACT: The study investigated the influence of mass media campaigns on child abuse in Nigeria (A study of Ose L.G. Ondo State). Mass media are no doubt an instrument for mobilization and development. The study was anchored on Agenda Setting Theory and Social Responsibility . This research adopted survey method with 120 questionnaires administered to 120 respondents of which 100 were collected. The data were analysed in frequency and percentage tables. Findings show that child labour campaigns are often exposed to via the radio and newspapers. Also, majority of the respondents claimed that mass media have been able to sensitize the public on child abuse and labour as 5% of the respondents once victims of child abuse. Meanwhile. poverty, culture /tradition and illiteracy are some of the factors responsibility for high child abuse in Ose L.G. This study recommends that government should embark on public enlightenment campaigns to educate the public on the social dangers of child abuse and labour while government should promulgate laws against the abuse of children.
1.1 Background to the Study
Child abuse, child labour, child trafficking are words that are often used interchangeably to means any form of maltreatment lashes on children usually those below the age of 18 years in Nigeria. Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, and or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or caregiver. Child abuse may include any act or failure to act by a parent or a caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child, and can occur in a child’s home, or in the organizations, schools, or communities the child interacts with.
Child abuse and neglect (CAN) has been recognized as a major health problem due to its implications on child surviving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) uses child maltreatment in general term that includes both abuse and neglect. It is define as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by parents or other caregivers that results in herm or threat of harm to a child. The world health organization (WHO) (2011) defines CAN as every kind of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect or negligent,, treatment, commercial or other exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm to the children’s health, survival, development, or dignity in the content of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Abuse in all its forms are a daily reality for many Nigerian children and only a fraction ever receive help. Six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence while, one in four girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence. Of the children who reported violence, fewer than five out of a 100 received any form of support. The drivers of violence against children (VAC) are rooted in social norms, including around the use of violent discipline, violence against women and community beliefs about witchcraft, all of which increase children’s vulnerability (UNICEF, 2017)
Nigeria has the largest number of child brides in Africa with more than 23 million girls and women who were married as children, most of them from poor and rural communities. While data suggests a decline of 9 per cent in the prevalence of child marriage since 2003, and a projected further decrease of 6 per cent by 2030, Nigeria’s rapid population growth means that the number of child brides will in fact increase by more than one million by 2030 and double by 2050 (UNICEF, 2017).
Ullman, Najdowski and Filipas (2019) noted that the act of commission (child abuse) is deliberate and intentional acts which may include physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and the act of omission (child neglect) is the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs such as physical, emotional, medical/dental and educational needs and failure to supervise and protect a child from harm or potential harm. Abused or neglected children have been reported to have cognitive impairment, developmental delays, eating and sleeping disorders, poor performance at school, poor relationships, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal behaviour and may themselves become abusive.
According to the WHO in the year 2002, an estimated 31,000 deaths were attributed to homicide among children <15 years of age. Millions of children have been victims of CAN, many of which have resulted to death, but have gone unnoticed because children’s death is not routinely investigated or autopsied; therefore, it is difficult to know the degree of the problem. Infants and pre-schoolchildren are at the greatest risk of fatal maltreatment because of their dependency, vulnerability and relative social invisibility.
Children in West and Central Africa are susceptible to a wide range of hazards from which they have a right to protection, including child labour, sexual exploitation, trafficking, conflict and other emergencies, female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage. About 35% of the children of West and Central Africa are estimated to be engaged in child labour. There are, however, wide variations between individual countries in the region.
Olatosi, Ogordi, Oredugba, Sote, (2018) report that in Nigeria, CAN is beginning to receive attention unlike in the past where the awareness was low, and emphasis placed on prevalent childhood problems such as malnutrition and infection. Despite the attention being received by CAN, Nigerian society is still plagued with incidences of child labour, child maltreatment, child marriage, child trafficking, neglect and child prostitution. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that there are 15 million working Nigerian children under the age of 14. These children have been exposed on the street and forced into long hours of dangerous situations that are not developmentally appropriate. Although this situation has been attributed to economic necessity, the risk of accidents, violence, sexual exploitation and human immunodeficiency virus infection due to child labour have been reported.
In recent times, there has been increase in reports of abuse and kidnapping of children in the school environment, the most popular one being the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram terrorist group where the girls were subjected to sexual abuse; physical and psychological abuse; forced labour; forced participation in military operations and forced marriages. Domestic workers in Nigeria are often referred to as ‘house helps’, most of which are girls who are denied education and subjected to long hours of work with little or no pay, these girls are vulnerable to physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect (Arinze, 2006).
Child trafficking and abuse takes place in most parts of the world. In Nigeria, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has identified 13 human trafficking endemic states which include Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Imo, Rivers, Enugu, Ogun, Kano, Cross River, Akwa-Ibom or Delta States. Research has shown that child abuse has become an intra-cross boarder and trans-national crime. It is against this background that the study investigates the influence of mass media campaigns on child abuse in Nigeria particularly among residents of Ose L.G. Ondo State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
At least 1000 children suffer from various degree of abuse in West Africa Every 6 hours, says (UNICEF, 2019). This is so because they are the most vulnerable to disease, war, kidnapping, collapsed marriage, and malnutrition. The problem of child abuse has affected the lives of many children beyond control. Some of them had dreamt to be important figure in the society which they may find themselves, but they couldn’t pursue the dream, their aims are dying gradually and they couldn’t help themselves.
Today in the West and Central Africa, it is acknowledged that agricultural fields, gold and diamond mines, stone quarries, street hawking, child marriage, rape, child trafficking and domestic work are areas where the working conditions of children are often exploitative. Furthermore, changes in old cultural practices such as fostering, handing over a child to a third party have been corrupted and abused. In recognition of the challenges, child abuse pose to the atonement of human rights, security and sustainable development and achievement of millennium development goals, the question this study seeks to answer is; how has mass media influenced the discouragement of child abuse and labour with particular focus on child abuse and trafficking in Ose L.G area of Ondo State.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The study has the following objectives, they are:
- To examine the extent at which Ose L.G residents participate or been victim of child abuse.
- To ascertain factor(s) responsible for child abuse in Nigeria and Ose L.G in particular.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent has Ose people participated or been victim of child abuse?
- What factor(s) responsible for child abuse in Nigeria and Ose L.G in particular?
1.5 Significance of the Study
- The study will serve as an eyes opener to the media houses to develop more programmes that will increase public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the various dimensions and pattern of child abuse and its various implications.
- The findings of this study will help the policy makers to come up will new laws and policies that will protect the right of children and sanctions the child rights violators.
- As an academic work which intends to pass through scientific in terms of empirical analysis, it aims to add to the academic knowledge so as to improve researches and students of great minds.
- Importantly, these who want to engage in similar topic will find it very useful by serving as reference point. This will invariably allow such researchers to pin-point the weak areas of the work and at of future researchers.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research which examines the influence of mass media campaigns on child abuse in Nigeria shall be narrowed in scope to Ose L.G. Ondo State due to the time frame, geographical location and proximity to the researcher. Another rationale for narrowing the scope to Ose L.G area of Ondo State is due to the vest geographical structure of Nigeria and financial constraints.
1.7 Operation Definition of Terms
Influence: This refers to the impact of mass media in creating awareness against child abuse in Ose L.G area of Ondo state.
Child: It means a young human being such as the teenager who are usually below 18 years that are exposes to abuse.
Child Abuse: This refers to various ways of maltreating usually a teenager physically, psychologically and others like insult.
Mass Media Campaigns: These are means of disseminating information that can create awareness against child abuse often through the newspaper, magazine, radio, television and online.
Ose L.G: This is one of the local governments in Ondo state where the research will administer her questionnaire.