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THE ROLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND PUBLIC COMPLAINTS COMMISSION: A STUDY OF CHILD ABUSE

ABSTRACT

The study examined the role of Human Rights institutions in the country in addressing the problem of child abuse.The objective of this study is causes, types and effects of child abuse on the child, the family and the nation.  The work is meant to draw closer attention on this increasing scourge and access measures of addressing to preserve the fundamental human rights of the child as entrenched under the Nigeria Child Right Act. In the study, the researcher defined what child abuse is; the various forms of child abuse, and also identified some of the causes and consequences of child abuse as a reflection of the societal problem and its impact on the life of the child.  The study also evaluated the extent of damages it does to the abused child and the Nigerian society. In order to gather relevant data and information on the subject matter, the researcher used the questionnaire as data collection instrument, which was administered on 200 respondents within the FCT which is the limit of the scope of the study.  A self constructed questionnaire titled Child Abuse Questionnaire (CAQ) was administered on the students after validation. The instrument has construct validity co-efficient of 0.756 and reliability co-efficient of 0.95. The statistical technique that was used to analyse the data collected was Chi-Square distribution test. The result of the analysis showed that there was a significant relationship between poverty and economic deprivation and child abuse in Nigeria. Also the study revealed that child abuse is still very prevalent in Nigeria and also that religious and cultural influences contribute to child abuse in Nigeria. The result revealed that the Rights institutions are not doing enough to arrest the problem of child abuse and that the child right act is not working in Nigeria.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the Study

The Collins concise dictionary defines juvenile as pertaining to the young or immature of youth or childhood. This comprises the child and the adolescent. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a child falls within the age group of 0-19 years. Some countries further include any one less than or up to 21 years. The Nigerian labour act defines a child as those who are 16 years of age and below but the International Labour Organization (ILO) has brought it down to children below15 years of age. Child abuse can be defined as ‘an intentional or neglectful physical or emotional injury imposed on a child, including sexual molestation.’ (Garner 1999:10) Child abuse violates the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in1989 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child. Child abuse can be seen as situation whereby the fundamental human right of a child is tempered with. That is, the child is not given adequate care and protection as it’s the responsibility of every parent to take good care of their children. These rights are right to education, religion, freedom, movement, shelter etc. The child on most occasions is exposed to unnecessary hardship and odds in life. Although child abuse occurs in Nigeria, it has received little attention. This is probably due to the emphasis placed on the more prevalent childhood problems of malnutrition and infection. Another possible reason is the general assumption that in every African society the extended family system always provides love, care and protection to all children. Yet there are traditional child rearing practices which adversely affect some children, such as purposeful neglect or abandonment of severely handicapped children, and twins or triplets in some rural areas. With the alteration of society by rapid socioeconomic and political changes, various forms of child abuse have been identified, particularly in the urban areas. These may be considered the outcome of abnormal interactions of the child, parents/ guardians and society. They include abandonment of normal infants by unmarried or very poor mothers in cities, increased child labour and exploitation of children from rural areas in urban elite families, and abuse of children in urban nuclear families by child-minders. Preventive measures include provision of infrastructural facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas in order to prevent drift of the young population to the cities. This would sustain the supportive role of the extended family system which is rapidly being eroded.

 

1.2     Statement of Problem

Although child abuse occurs in Nigeria, it has received little attention. This is probably due to the emphasis placed on the more prevalent childhood problems of malnutrition and infection. Another possible reason is the general assumption that in every African society the extended family system always provides love, care and protection to all children. Yet there are traditional child rearing practices which adversely affect some children, such as purposeful neglect or abandonment of severely handicapped children, and twins or triplets in some rural areas. With the alteration of society by rapid socioeconomic and political changes, various forms of child abuse have been identified, particularly in the urban areas. These may be considered the outcome of abnormal interactions of the child, parents/guardians and society. They include abandonment of normal infants by unmarried or very poor mothers in cities, increased child labour and exploitation of children from rural areas in urban elite families, and abuse of children in urban nuclear families by childminders. Preventive measures include provision of infrastructural facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas in order to prevent drift of the young population to the cities. This would sustain the supportive role of the extended family system which is rapidly being eroded. There is need for more effective legal protection for the handicapped child, and greater awareness of the existence of child abuse in the community by health and social workers. Rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

 

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is any person below the age of 18.  As such, just like any other person, s/he has rights. Article 19 (protection from all forms of violence) states that “Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them…” In addition, Article 34 affirms that it is the government’s duty to protect children from any form of sexual exploitation and abuse. Finally, Article 39 discusses the cases of Rehabilitation, where “Children who have been neglected, abused or exploited should receive special help to physically and psychologically recover and reintegrate into society…” By looking at these three articles and comparing them to actual incidents and/or cases of child abuse, we can say that they are definitely not applied. Sadly, the right to be protected from being hurt is being violated on regular basis, if not even daily.

 

According to a factsheet published by the World Health Organization (WHO)[1], abuse has many consequences. Aside from bruises and physical injuries, it can lead to development delays, drug abuse, depression, stress disorders, self-harm and many more. The fact sheet also states that parent training and home visiting programs can be implemented in order to prevent child abuse or at least help reduce child maltreatment rates. Since child abuse has become a global problem, many countries took the initiatives to deal with and solve this issue.

 

 

 

 

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the role of human rights and public complaints commission; a case study of child abuse in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives of the study are:

  1. To ascertain if there is any difference between abused and non-abused students in their reading habits, classroom participation, and academic performance.
  2. To examine the role of human rights and public complaints commission and its effectiveness with respect to child abuse in Nigeria.

 

1.4     Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses are posed to guide the study.

H01      There is no significant difference between abused and non-abused students in their reading habits, classroom   participation, and academic performance.

 

H02:  There is no significant effect of human rights and public complaints commission and the fight against child abuse.

 

 

 

 

1.5     Research Questions

  1. Is there any difference between abused and non-abused students in their reading habits, classroom participation, and academic performance?
  2. Is human rights and public complaints commission effective with respect to fighting child abuse in Nigeria?

 

1.6     Significance of the Study

The results of this study will contribute to existing literature with regards to the effect of child abuse on youth’s academic performance, and the role of human rights and public complaints commission. It proffers useful suggestions to make amends, in terms of behavioural change on the part of stakeholders of youths to shows utmost love and care, and the society in terms of effectiveness of the administration of its social services roles.

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