POVERTY AND CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA:
The study sets out to discover the relationship between poverty and child abuse in Nigeria and see ways of further complementing the roles of the government and other various agencies by drastically reducing the bench mark ratio of prevalent rates in the country. A situation where over 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty line is unacceptable; the time has come for all to forge alliance towards eradicating this evil meniac!
Poverty and child abuse in Nigeria cuts across various ethnic groups and nationalities. It goes further to show the level of decay our society had been subject to misrule often occasion by corruption, bad governance, greed and exploitation of the few elites against the poor masses of this country.
BACKGROUND TO OUR STUDY;
Poverty is no longer news in the country. It is on record that the poverty line in the country is far above 70%. Thus poverty and child abuse occurs in many forms and across all socio-economic groups. We know that most parents who live in poverty do not treat their children and parent affectionately, but research shows that children who grow up in poverty can be vulnerable to some forms of maltreatment, particularly neglect and physical abuse.
They also have an increase risk of adverse experiences and negative outcomes, both in the short and long term. These outcomes includes poor health (physical and mental), death from illness or accident, educational disadvantage and disaffection, unemployment, poverty during adulthood, criminalization for anti-social behaviors or offending, as well as becoming victims of crime. Children who experience both poverty and child abuse are doubly disadvantaged because the experience of child abuse may in turn further undermine life chances in the long term. While there is a vast amount of research on poverty and the link to child abuse, yet there appears to be no end in sight of the problem, who will lead us away from “Egypt” and bring us to the promise land?
The recent increases in the different forms of child abuse, exploitation and suffering in Nigeria are extremely distressing. Under the guise of tradition and poverty, Nigerian children continue to be exploited, oppressed and abused by so called adults whose job it is to protect them. Although child abuse and poverty exist else where, it is more prevalent here in Nigeria. Abuse of the Nigerian child takes many forms.
The phenomena of child trafficking for forced or compulsory labour as well as sex slaves are growing up so fast that most countries in Africa fit into one of three categories- sending countries, transit countries and receiving countries. Child trafficking has become a very profitable, multi billion dollar business for the organized syndicate involved. As they flee from poverty, Nigerian children are being increasingly exploited by traffickers who make billions of dollars a year by buying them for as little as $14 USD a head and sending them to slavery in Europe or the Gulf States.
According to a recent ILO report, an estimated 60% of sex workers in Italy are from Nigeria. In the words of meera sethi of the international immigration organization, Nigeria has become a “supplier of fresh flesh” for countries in the European Union, via paedophile and prostitution rings. Sethi said Belgium, Britain and Italy receive the youngest African girls, while Germany and Spain are major transit countries.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM;
What is poverty? There is no single definition of poverty but the two most commonly used concepts are absolute poverty and relative poverty. Absolute poverty refers to a state in which income is insufficient to provide the basic needs required to sustain life i.e. food and shelter. Whereas relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average, and recognizes that human adverse experiences and negative outcomes, both in the short and long term. These outcome includes poor health (physical and mental), death from illness or accident, educational disadvantage and disaffection, unemployment, poverty during adulthood, criminalization for anti-social behaviour or offending, as well as becoming victims of crime. Children who experience both poverty and child abuse are doubly disadvantaged because the experience of child abuse may in turn further undermine life chances in the long term.
Poverty and child abuse are twin problems which must be tackled squarely. Child slavery, in which children are forced to work in very abject conditions with little or no pay is spreading widely around the continent, more than ever before. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children from western and central African countries are sold into slavery each year, notably for seasonal work such as harvesting cocoa and other cash crops.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM;
A number of prevalence and incidence studies highlight the link between poverty and child. Maltreatment incidence studies analyze the number of new cases occurring in a defined population over a specific period of time, usually one year. Prevalence studies also look at the proportion of a defined population affected by child abuse during a specified time period usually childhood. A United Nations alarming report on the poverty situation in the country reports an estimated 70% of the population live below these lines. The most comprehensive and methodological study conducted was by the defunct planned parenthood federation of Nigeria, Nigerian women council as well as other non-governmental organization.
Our research questions on the subject matter centers on the high proportion rates the twin issues of poverty and child abuse has assume in the country. Our methodology to be adopted will outline the steps and directions to take in arriving at an acceptable data that will be acceptable and fair to all.
Some of the research questions can be addressed below;
1. Is poverty and child abuse visible in the country?
2. Can the problem of poverty and child abuse be confronted in the country?
3. Are we making any head way?
4. Is there any lasting solution towards tackling the twin problem of poverty and child abuse in the country?
The study area mainly covers some selected suburbs in rivers state as well as Lagos state. The main vegetation type in these areas is the ever green forest with diverse species of flora forming a dense canopy with little or no undergrowth at the floor except for creepers that use the stems of the trees to access sunlight. Average annual temperature is 27c. The topography of the area is undulating with an average relief of 300-400 meters above sea level. Based on the 2006 census, the population of the area is 151,125 whose main occupation is farming, fishing and trading.
The study area delineated covered a total of 420.42km comprising three subs of Ajegunle and orile in Lagos state and diobu and rainbow communities in Rivers state. Questionnaire, personal interviews and direct field measurements\observations were applied.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSSIONS;
The results of our findings in these subs shows that there is a greater relationship between poverty and child abuse in the rural areas begging for attention compare to most urban centers. Nevertheless these results findings are subjected to further discussions based on the on going steps being taken by all stakeholders in alleviating the issue of poverty and child abuse in the country.
IMPLICATION OF POVERTY AND CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA:
Experts have blamed the sudden rise in child abuse cases on the terrible economic conditions in Nigeria as well as in the whole of Africa, which has lead to a high level of poverty especially in the poor, rural areas of the country. This means some parents, in order to relief their sufferings are often willing for their children to move away, sometimes to live with a better off relative. Ignorant of the possible dangers, they do this believing their child would be properly looked after. Usually, the opposite happens.
In a number of African communities, some instances of child abuse are actually not seen as such, but are considered an inherent part of the socio-cultural values and customs. In other cases, children are bonded to others to pay off debts incurred by their parents. Atimes, however, child abuse defiles any form of socio-economic reasoning and can be downright evil. All around us, we continue to see children being abused, oppressed, exploited and denied their basic rights as human beings, as children and free citizens of this country.
Why has poverty and child abuse in Nigeria risen to such a high level?
Only a determined fight against poverty, corruption, good governance and the implementation of the child rights act 2000 can see us through.
A country like Nigeria blessed with huge human and natural resources has no business whatsoever with the ugly maniac of poverty and child abuse. It is time the relevant authorities in Nigeria to take up this challenge and face these problems in more practical approach toward eradicating them from our polity. I remember many years ago, the nations of the world under the auspices of the united nation came together and made a declaration that henceforth the rights of children all over the world should be protected from all forms of abuse. This declaration was never binding until the 20th day of November 1989 when the UN general assembly adopted the convention on the rights of the child (CRC), while the African Union Assembly of Heads of States. Nigeria should never been seen among the committee of nations as not putting enough to enforce this proclamation. The time is ripe for Nigeria to leap frog from poverty and take it enviable place in Africa and the world at large.
1. Aham Anyanwu, (2000): Research methodology in business & social sciences.
2. Miller, D (1979): Social justice. Oxford: Clarendon.
3. Musa, B. (1982): Struggle for social & economic change. Zaria.