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INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON AWARENESS AND MITIGATION OF CHILD LABOUR & CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA

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CHILD LABOUR & CHILD ABUSE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background to the study

According to the International Labour Organization in 2010, there were estimated 160 million children engaged in child labour globally. Africa has the largest number of child labourers; 72.1 million African children are estimated to be in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work and in Nigeria alone the statistics stands at about 15 million  (Agbakwuru, 2023; International Labour Organization, 2016).

Agbakwuru (2023) noted that children mostly affected are under the ages of 5-17, with most of them working in jobs that deprive them of their childhood, interfere with their education or harm their mental, physical or social development. Stakeholders have attributed poverty, insecurity and unemployment in the country as the core factors causing child abuse and labour in Nigeria.

Equally, Olajide (2018) writes that six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence, while, fewer than five out of a 100 received any form of support after reporting violence or abuse of them. The main factors accounted for violence against children (VAC) are rooted in social norms, including around the use of violent discipline, violence against women and community beliefs about witchcraft. By and large, 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 and one in four girls and women aged 15-49 years have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) (Olajide, 2018).

Meanwhile, less progress against child labour has been made in Africa and Nigeria in particular in contrast to continued progress elsewhere in the world, and despite the targeted policies implemented by African governments to combat child labour (Agbakwuru, 2023).

However, advancement in information and communication technology particularly social media has rapidly emerged as a powerful tool for communication and information dissemination in today’s interconnected world. Social media’s influence in raising awareness and mitigating child labour and abuse in Nigeria is undeniable. Its ability to rapidly disseminate information, facilitate collaboration, and empower individuals has amplified efforts to address these pressing issues (Alarape, Ayo, & Ibidunni, 2021).

Social media has enabled individuals and organizations to shed light on the grim realities of child labour and abuse in Nigeria. Hashtags such as #EndChildLabour, #EndChildMarriage and #ChildRights have gained momentum, raising awareness among millions of users. Videos, images, and personal stories shared on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok have captured the attention of a younger audience, fostering empathy and encouraging collective action (Olasupo & Onwe, 2020).

Social media platforms are serving as virtual meeting places where activists, NGOs, government agencies, and concerned citizens collaborate and strategize. Online forums, groups, and pages dedicated to child rights have enabled stakeholders to share information, resources, and success stories, thus fostering a sense of community and amplifying the impact of their efforts (Onuoha & Ufearoh, 2021).

Without doubt, social media has facilitated the organization of online and offline campaigns aimed at eradicating child labour and abuse in Nigeria. Awareness drives, petition campaigns, and virtual rallies have attracted the attention of policymakers, driving them to take concrete steps towards policy reforms and enforcement (Bakare, 2019).

Despite its undeniable benefits, social media also poses challenges. Misinformation, privacy concerns, and the digital divide could hinder the effectiveness of awareness campaigns and outreach efforts, because people living in the cities like FCT, Lagos etc will not have equally access to information and communication technology such as social media (Igwe, 2022).

To this end, the research investigates the influence of social media in awareness and mitigation of child labour and abuse in Nigeria with a particular focus on residents of Lagos.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Child abuse and child labour are indeed significant and concerning issues that have affected many societies, including those in Africa which has the largest number of child labourers (72.1 million) and Nigeria (about 15 million child workers in the country. These harmful phenomena have serious and long-lasting consequences for the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of children, as well as for the overall development of societies.

The prevalence of this ugly phenomenon is caused by several factors include but not limited to poverty, lack of education, cultural norms and traditions, poor/weak enforcement of laws, migration and displacement, gender inequality, high unemployment rates, rural-urban disparities and corruption among other. There are lots of empirical studies on the influence of mass media in the campaign against child abuse and child labour (Olayinka, 2020; Ekuri, 2013; Bernadette and Chris, 2002; Balamurugan, 2019).

Meanwhile, advancement in information and communication technology particularly social media have enabled NGOs, government, international organizations to create awareness and advocate on policies, propose law and seek punishment for child abuse and labour offenders.

Despite the potential of social media, only few empirical studies have been conducted on the subject matter in relation to social media (Desmond and Sienne, 2021; Busari & Amedu, 2020). Even, where the empirical studies are available on social media advocacy and awareness on child abuse and labour, they failed to pinpoint the specific social media platform that is mostly effective in creating awareness and mitigating child abuse and labour. Due to Nigeria’s digital divide, this study is also focused on the Surelere and Mushin communities Lagos to investigate the influence of social media in raising awareness of and militating child labour and abuse in Nigeria.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the influence of social media in awareness and mitigation of child labour and abuse in Nigeria while the specific objectives include to:

  1. investigate the prevalence of child labour and abuse in Surelere and Mushin, Lagos.
  2. examine how social media is utilized as a tool for reporting instances of child labour and abuse among Surelere and Mushin residents.
  3. determine the extent to which social media has helped effectively created awareness and mitigating of child labour and abuse.
  4. Explore how social media content shapes public opinion and the willingness to take action against child labour and abuse.
  5. Identify the challenges hindering effective use of social media as platforms to create awareness and mitigate child labour and abuse.

 1.4       Research Questions

In order to explicate the aforementioned objectives, the listed questions provide answers to the research problem:

  1. What is the prevalence of child labour and abuse in Surelere and Mushin, Lagos?
  2. How social media is utilized as a tool for reporting instances of child labour and abuse among Surelere and Mushin residents?
  3. To what extent has social media effectively helped in creating awareness and mitigating child labour and abuse?
  4. How social media contents have shaped public opinion and the willingness to take action against child labour and abuse.
  5. What are the challenges hindering effective use of social media as platforms to create awareness and mitigate child labour and abuse?

1.5       Significance of the Study

This study is essential to serve stakeholders in the government, NGOs, international child related organizations, International Labour Organization, activists with the needed insight on the level of awareness and mitigating efforts on child abuse and labour. Specifically, on how social media can be employed to address and advocate the menace.

This study will contribute to theories and models especially Social Capital Theory and Technological Determinism Theory especially as it can be used to explain how social media can be used to create awareness, advocating and mitigating child abuse and labour  issue particularly in developing countries particularly Nigeria where there is high prevalence of child abuse, child labour and child marriage.

Government and policy formulators may benefit from the result of this research to make laws that will prevent or curb any form of violance against children including child labour. This study is also expected to encourage individuals to use social media to advocate and report incidents of child abuse and labour in their communities.

Since social media platforms have wide reach, allowing information to spread quickly to a wide audience. By using these platforms, the problem of child labour and abuse can be clearly displayed, reaching people who may not be aware of the problem. By leveraging hashtags, viral content, and online petitions, it is possible to raise awareness and pressure authorities to take action.

The research will showcase understanding on how social media platforms as fastest platforms can provide quicker report of the incidents in real time as result led to faster response from law enforcement, NGOs and relevant agencies to prevent further abuse and save children from dangerous situations.

This study’ findings will educate children and adults about their rights, privileges and dangers inherent in child labour and abuse including how to report any incident of child abuse or labour.

Access to educational content and resources through social media can provide children with opportunities for learning and personal development that will armed them against any form of abuse and labour.

This study may be relevant to researchers in the fields of mass communication, sociology and other related fields who are interested in conducting similar research related to this as it provides them with an empirical opportunity to see what has been done while also serving as a source of literature. Overall, it contributes to the body of knowledge in mass communication and sociology etc.

1.6       Scope of the Study

The study which investigates the influence of social media in awareness and mitigation of child labour and abuse in Nigeria shall be narrowed in scope to residence of Surelere and Mushin, Lagos. Thus, the geographical scope of this study shall be within Lagos. The choice of residents of Surelere and Mushin, Lagos is due to their proximity to the researcher, inadequate time to study the people living in Lagos talk less of Nigeria among other logistics. Also, the demographic factors of the respondents shall be carefully studied before the administration of research instruments such factors include: age, gender, academic level e.t.c

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Influence: In this research, this refers to impact or the contribution of social media to the creation of awareness and mitigating child abuse and labour particularly among the residence of Surelere and Mushin, Lagos.

Social Media Awareness and Mitigation: In this study, social media awareness simply refers to the use of social media in sharing information (text, pictures, videos etc) to create awareness, reducing and curbing child abuse and labour phenomenon among residence of Surelere and Mushin, Lagos.

Child Abuse: In this study, it refers to any act of harming or neglecting that endangers the physical, emotional, or psychological well-being of a child in Nigeria such as inflicting physical harm, harming a child’s self-esteem and emotional development, engaging a child in sexual activities, and failing to provide proper care and attention to a child.

Child Labour: In this research, child labour means the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular schools, and is mentally, physically, socially, or morally harmful such as selling on the street, industries, domestic work, and mining etc.


WHAT TO EXPECT: (Chapter 1-5, Abstract, Table of Contents, Questionnaire and References)


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