The Effect Of Child Abuse On The Academic Performance Of Secondary School Students In Nigeria
1.1 Background of the Study
Child abuse and neglect are fastly becoming universal phenomena in the current world societies despite the fact that child’s rights are being recognized and even to some extent, protected by legislation and constitutions in many countries of the world. Childhood abuse potentially has major economic implications for Nigerian schools and for their students. Even conservative estimates suggest that at least 8 per cent of U.S. children experience sexual abuse before age 18, while 17 per cent experience physical abuse and 18 per cent experience physical neglect (Flisher, Kramer, Hoven, & Greenwald, 2007). Childhood maltreatment, and aversive parenting practices, in general, have the potential to delay the academic progress of students (Shonk & Cicchetti, 2001). It, therefore, has the potential to undermine schools’ ability to satisfy standards of school progress entailed in the No Child Left Behind legislation (U.S. Department of Education, 2005), putting them at risk for loss of federal funding. It also has the potential to adversely affect students' economic outcomes in adulthood, via its impact on achievement in middle and high school (Cawley, Heckman, & Vytlacil, 2001).
Child abuse has been defined by the African network for the prevention and protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) as the intentional and unintentional acts which endanger the physical, health, emotional, moral and educational welfare of the child. Hopper (2004) also described child abuse as any act of maltreatment or subjection that endangers a child’s physical, emotional and health development.
Gelles, (2007) affirmed that child abuse includes not only physical assault but also malnourishment, abandonment, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.
According to Mba (2002), prominent forms of child abuse in Nigeria are child battering, child labour, child abandonment, neglect, teenage prostitution, early marriage and forced marriage. Kolander (2000) stated that emotional and sexual abuses are highly noticeable in Nigeria. Oji (2006) observed that babies born to teenage mothers in Nigeria were 625,024 of the reporting time.
According to Walsh (2005), unwanted pregnancy has been identified to be a major cause of child abuse in Nigeria. Many abused children were unwanted in the first place and turned out to be a severe burden on their emotionally immature or impoverished parents. Odey (2003) stated that children from poor homes are more vulnerable to abuse and Todd,(2004) in his support said that Nigeria, which is are known corrupt nation in Africa is heading towards dangerous poverty where her teeming population does not have enough food for healthy living. Oluwole (2002) equally lamented when analyzing the situation of children who are being used for house help. Child labour is the major obstacle to the achievement of education for all (EFA) and this resulted in a setback in the achievement of the world target of universal primary education by 2015.
According to Onye (2004), child abuse is evidence of poverty. Aderinto and Okunola (2008) equally recorded that some children reported that they were pushed into the street hawking for the maintenance needs of the family. That means that they are the breadwinners of their various families at an early age. It is a common sight in major parks and streets in Nigeria to see children of school age between 6-16 years as bus/taxi mates, hawking wares, pushing trucks for money or begging for money when they are supposed to in the classroom learning in the schools. All of these point to the fact that the worst-hit groups are children who are at the risk of diseases, exploitation, neglect and violence.
Although the potential impact of child abuse is large, evidence of causal effects of maltreatment on children's longer-term outcomes in school is generally lacking. The current state of evidence for a link between childhood maltreatment (physical and sexual abuse or neglect) and school performance is limited to negative associations between maltreatment and school performance. On average, children who are abused receive lower ratings of performance from their school teachers, score lower on cognitive assessments and standardized tests of academic achievement, obtain lower grades, and get suspended from school and retained in grade more frequently (Erickson, Egeland, & Pianta, 2003). Abused children are also prone to difficulty in forming new relationships with peers and adults and in adapting to norms of social behaviour (Shields, Cicchetti and Ryan, 2004). Although these examples of negative associations between child abuse and school performance are suggestive of causal effects, they could be spuriously driven by unmeasured factors in families or neighbourhoods that are themselves correlated with worse academic outcomes among children (Todd and Wolpin, 2003).
In addition, not much of the previous evidence linking childhood maltreatment to worse school performance generalizes well to older children in middle and high school and to children not already identified as needing services. Evidence of the impacts of maltreatment on academic performance in the general population of middle and high school students is needed to establish evidence of effects on schooling attainment in the general education population and on economic outcomes in adulthood.
Using a large dataset of U.S. adolescent sibling pairs, this study explores the effects of maltreatment—neglect, physical aggression, and sexual abuse on adolescents’ performance in middle and high school. First, the questions of how childhood maltreatment theoretically could negatively affect later school performance, and of how unobserved family background and neighbourhood characteristics might influence ordinary least squares and fixed effects regression estimates of relationships between childhood maltreatment and later school performance, are discussed. Second, empirical estimates from models that controlled for observable and unobservable family and neighbourhood characteristics are presented.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Grill (2009) stated that the school can do a lot of things about child abuse since it has a way of affecting the school system. The problem of child abuse has long been existing in Nigeria and has even become more even devastating to society as a whole. That history of child abuse in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State is as old as the persistence of the phenomenon in Nigeria itself cannot be overemphasized. Children suffered all forms of abuse ranging from child battering, child labour, child abandonment, neglect, teenage prostitution, early marriage and forced marriage. And in most cases, the parents are even at the centre of the root cause of all this social maltreatment. The school though, as an agent of socialization portends to have a strong and overwhelming influence on the development of the child, but observation has shown that this essence of education could probably be defeated if the children are made to continually suffer the pains of child labour (Martins E.O. 2010). This study, however, centres on the extent to which the school has been involved in its attempt to develop the child within the social context of child abuse. And It is in the light of these, that the study attempts to unravel the major causes of child abuse and how it affects the child’s educational performance.
1.3 Purpose of Study
This research project has its main objective the problem of finding out the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of secondary school students in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State. Moreover, this research study sets:
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study is to provide parents and school administrators with an insight into how much damage child abuse and especially hawking after school can have on the academic development of students in general. This study is significant as the findings will be beneficial to parents, guardians, teachers, school heads and all other stakeholders in the educational sector, as they will be better enlightened on the problems associated with child abuse. Such knowledge may curtail any further action of exploiting the child, especially being used as the object of raising the family economy. Hawking no doubt exposes the child to many social vices, thus the fact that the study attempts to create a model for the proper upbringing of the child in the society makes it justifiable.
1.6 Delimitation/Scope of the study
The study laid emphasis on the effect of child abuse and how it affects the academic performance of the child using secondary schools in Esan West Local Government Area as a case study.
The following terms are defined for the essence of this work:
This project work focuses on the effects of child abuse on students’ academic performance. The study attempts to unravel the causes, effects and remedies to child abuse among secondary school students. It was carried out in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State. A sample of 100 was randomly drawn from selected secondary schools in the local government and questionnaires were administered to the respondents. The mean percentage test, which was adopted in the study’s analysis, indicated that excessive battering of a child by parents/teacher/guidance; broken homes, child hawking before and after school and an unconducive learning environment are all causes of child abuse. Also, it was found that child abuse negatively affects a child’s school performance; such abused children are vulnerable to early pregnancy. Ill-treatment as well causes permanent and lifelong trauma, thereby making children develop low cognition of school subjects. The preaching of good morals by religious leaders to parents and guardians is part of the recommendations made in this study. Also, melting out punishment in form of fines on erring parents/guidance especially those forcing their children to hawk, and prevention from bad peer influence will help eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum the incidence of child abuse among secondary school students.