The consequences of child abuse in Nigeria with a case study in Niger Delta. The Research aimThe aim of this study is to use grounded theory methods to develop a theory about how children are been abused and the consequences of these abuse in Nigeria with specific reference to Niger Deltaregion. The theory generated is intended to derive a general, abstract process of the nature, types,causes and consequences of child abuse in Nigeria in the view of participants in the study.
The process will involve using multiple stages of data collection and the refinement andinterrelationship of categories of information (Strauss and Corbin, 1990; 1998). Currently in Nigeria, children are been abused every single day intentionally and unintentionally. The existence of child abuse in history (infanticide, abandonment, severe physical chastisement,child prostitution, child marriage, female genital mutilation, child witchcraft abuse, street tradingand harsh labour) is indisputable in Nigeria.
However, the extent of such abuse and theinterpretation of it within the societies where it took place are issues of greater contentions (Corby,2006). The reason why I have decided to use Niger Delta as a case study in this research is becausethis region is rich in its natural crude oil resources but unfortunately one of the most unstable areasof Nigeria where inter-ethnic clashes are common. In most cases access to oil revenue is a major trigger to the crisis experience in Niger Delta. Despite its richness in crude oil, the region is stillvery much under-developed with lots of economic draw back.
This region is also useful as a casestudy in this research because compared to other regions in Africa where oil is been produced, theyare the most neglected and deprived. Majority of them suffer from relative poverty whicheventually forces there young girls into prostitution. Children in this area are hardly found going toschool, they tend to concentrate more in street trading. Infanticide has become a common practicein the region. Lot of children been abandoned to cater for themselves at very young age has hadmassive consequences on there later live.
Most of them will argue that the government in Nigeriahas let them down. The study will focus on the root cause of child abuse. The literature will draw link from Nigeriahistory. How slavery contributed to the enhancement of child abuse because this was a period whenyoung children were used to work in industries and plantations. Harsh labour experienced in Nigeria today is not just a recent trend; it has been in existence since the colonial days. The studywill be limited to local community groups those in the area were the issue is very prominent.
The study will use the criteria set by the World health organisation which defines child abuse as allform of “physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligent treatment,commercial or other exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm to the child heath, survival or development or dignity in the context of a relationship or responsibility, trust or power” (WHO,1999). “Physical ill-treatment is defined as involving hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning burningor scalding drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.
Physical harmmay be caused when a carer or parent deliberately causes ill-health to a child whom they arelooking after” (Department of Health 1999:5). The persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child suchas to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on a child's emotional development is an emotionalabuse. It may involve causing children to feel frequently frightened, or the exploitation or corruption of children, threatening a child or refusal of medical treatment (Department of Health1999; Burnett 1993; World Health Organisation 1999).
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child physical or psychological need which is likely toresult in a serious impairment of the child's health. It may involve a parent failing to prevent or protect a child from physical harm or danger (DoH, 1999; Corby 2006). “Child sexual abuse is theengagement of a child in sexual act that they do not fully embrace, or for which the child is notdevelopmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violate the laws or social taboos of asociety. This may be the exploitative use of child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices”(WHO 1999).
While, “commercial/exploitation of a child refers to use of the child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. This may include child labour and child prostitution. Theseactivities are to the detriment of the child’s physical or mental health, education, or spiritual, moralor social-emotional development” (WHO 1999). The Research ContextThe state of most Nigerian Children is unacceptable. Already facing one of the world's worstsurvival chances, abuse rates for Nigerian Children are increasing.
Already among the least literateof the world's children, school enrolment rates are not impressive (Waal and Argenti 2002). “Nigeria is the world's sixth largest oil-producing nation. However, mismanagement and successivemilitary governments have left the country poverty-stricken. The region Niger Delta is one of the poorest regions today in Nigeria despite the amount of crude oil generated every day. Contemporaryhistory of the Niger Delta can be summarized as economic decline and broken promises”. They facea long struggle if the next generation is to rise out of poverty.
Far too many have been a victim of abuse since the period of Trans-Atlantic slavery through the world and Biafra war till date. Duringthe Biafra war it was very common to find a child soldier. Local, national and internationalcommunity have performed poorly in meeting their commitments to children in Niger Delta. Theregions youth are frustrated and increasingly angry; they are not been able to build a future for themselves and their community. The present social economic situation of the country is obviously one reason while there is childabuse. Street children are common to see in this region.
They sell in high motor ways when theyshould be in school; some get crashed down by motor vehicles all in the name of making money. Female children are married out at the age of twelve years. Most people will say is part of thereculture. A culture I will say it’s socially constructed. Poverty, deprivation and struggle for survivalusually contribute to the reason why children are severely abused in Nigeria. The population size ismassive. “According to the 2006 recent census, Nigeria population is over 140 million with the Niger Delta region populated with over 22 million including Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River,Delta, Edo and Rivers.
This group constitute 15. 01% of the nation’s population” (National population commission of Nigeria 2006). With such a size, it is un-imaginable how many childrenare been abused. Several factors have contributed in triggering child abuse in this part of Africacontinent including social economic factor, cultural factors, attitudes and perceptions of adults withregard to child abuse and neglect and the ignorance of the consequences of child abuse (Ebigbo,2003). The consequence of child abuse in general is horrifying.
The abuse of a child has a very devastatingconsequence for both the individual and the community at large. Undermining the consequences of child abuse can result in serious problems to the entire communities and state security. “Theindividual consequence of child abuse can lead to rape, physical assault, psychological trauma,serious disease, health risk such as sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory diseases,hepatitis, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
It may also result in unwanted pregnancies, forced abortion and abortion-related complications, mental and emotional problems,including nightmares, insomnia and suicidal tendencies”. Community consequences include the riseof criminal organisation and other criminal activities, corruption and problems of national security(Garbarino et al. , 1992). These consequences are very problematic.
These are some of the problemsalready faced in Nigeria. Corruption in government office is undisputable, criminal activitiesincluding armed robbery and burglary is so rampant. Niger Delta in contemporary Nigeria facessevere crisis. Vandalism fights and killing is constantly in practice. A major problem faced in Nigeria is the fact that less attention is paid by the government to stopchild abuse. Strategies to eradicate the practice are not addressed and even when a bill is passed itis never implemented or enforced effectively. Corruption is slowly and steadily destroying them. More than a decade after the Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force; this is not animpressive scorecard.
Yet promises are still being made at s uccessive international conferences, Nigeria and other African government have committed themselves to a range of ambitious goals poverty reduction, overcoming diseases, and providing education (Collier and Gunning 1999a;1999b). What about addressing child abuse? Even with poverty reduction and diseases preventionthere is still no significant changes in Nigeria. It’s simply the matter of the rich becomes richer andthe poor becomes poorer. The children of Niger Delta have little or no access to education, medicalcare or good shelter.
This, I will conclude as a sign of neglect from the government. The use of grounded theory A preliminary examination of the research literature has failed to identify research studies that haveused grounded theory methods to examine the consequences of child abuse. The study is thereforeuniquely placed to generate theory, grounded in data collected from local communities in the Niger Delta, about this particular phenomenon. It is anticipated that the theory that emerges from thisstudy will be comprehensible and make sense to those individuals in the community that will bestudied.
Also, the nature of grounded theory is such that the emergent theory 'will be abstractenough and include sufficient variation to make it applicable to a variety of contexts related to that phenomenon' (Stauss and Corbin 1990:23). In other words the theory developed from this researchwill be of use to other researchers involved in child abuse, social workers, child protection officer and policy makers. This study will provide opportunity for observations to be made about theapplicability of this mode of research in social work, and more specifically in the field of childabuse and protection (Punch, 2006).