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Background of the Study

Child abuse is fast becoming a universal phenomenon in the current world societies despite the fact that the child’s rights are being recognized and even to some extent, protected by legislations and constitutions in many countries of the world. Child abuse consist of any acts of commission or omission by parents, or other adult that results in harm, potential for harm, or the threat of harm to a child (0-18 years of age) even if the harm is unintentional (Gilbert et al., 2009). Child abuse as a social problem has only recently gained the recognition and attention of the Nigerian public, this was as a result of an organisation known as the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) which was set up in 1984 by some African Countries including Nigeria. Their aims was to look into the areas of child abuse and neglect as it pertains to Africa. Since then Nigeria has formed its own chapter of the network (inaugurated in 1986) and this body has held a couple of conference in an effort to define and identify aspect of child abuse within the society.

Although child abuse occur 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 provide love, care and protection to all its children, yet there are traditional child rearing practices which adversely affect some children such as purposeful neglect or abandonment of severally handicapped children, twins or triplet in some rural areas. In Nigeria children are being abused every single day intentionally or unintentionally.

Child abuse has been defined by the African Network for the Prevention and the Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) as the intentional and unintentional acts which endangers the physical, health, emotional, moral and the 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.

Ordinarily, the word ‘abuse’ is any mistreatment, neglect or lack of care and concern, but child abuse is any mistreatment or neglect of a child which results into physical, emotional and social harm or injury (PISA, 2000). The various forms of child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect of children by parents or guardians and others responsible for a child’s welfare. Physical abuse is when the child is subject to disciplinary action by his/her caregiver(s) with resultant bruising, severe pain, temporary loss of mobility, scars, burns and shaking. This may lead to more serious and life-threatening injuries in some cases.

Sexual abuse is the engagement of a child in sexual act that they do not fully embraced, or for which the child is non-developmentally prepared and cannot give consent or that violate the laws or social taboos of a society. This may be the exploitative use of the child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices. Neglect is failure to provide basic food, shelter, clothing, education and care (refusal of health care treatment) to child’s exposure to harmful substances (De Bellis, 2003; Macmillan et al, 2009).

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. In Nigeria today, many children engage in street hawking, through which they are exposed to different kinds of dangers ranging from accidents, joining of bad gangs, ritual killing, robbery and a premature exposure to the quest for money which has made many children to look down on formal education. Even those who manage to attend primary school fail examinations or exhibit poor academic performance either because they are neglected or abused. Neglect as a failure to provide these children’s fundamental needs by the parents results in poor academic performance (De Bellis, 2005).

The state of most Nigerian children is unacceptable. Already facing one of the world’s worst survival chances, abuse rates for Nigerian children are increasing. Already among the least literate of the world’s children, school enrolment rates are not impressive (Waal and Argenti, 2002).

The present social economic situation of the country is obviously one reason why there is child abuse. Street children are common in Nigeria, they sell in high motor ways when they should be in school; some get crashed down by motor vehicles all in the name of making money. Child abuse is widely accepted as having a negative effect on children’s academic achievement.

Education is the best legacy a nation can give to her citizens especially the youths. Education is an instrument for reconstruction of the state of development. Eluowa (2002) says education is the totality of the experience that man acquires by his interaction mentally physically with the environment to enable him cope with and get satisfaction from the environment and the world he lives in. many have come to realize that education is the bedrock of any nation’s development, hence individuals even adults who missed out on the first chance at primary education are taking advantage of the opportunity or provision of adult education provided mostly by the Government. In spite of this high awareness, many children still suffer from denial of education.

It is believed that some children become abused and neglected indirectly through the poor status of their parents. In most cases, the child’s parents are too poor to take care of the child, so they neglect the child’s education. It will be difficult for these children to cope with life as it was relatively easy for the parents. This is because the society is putting more emphasis on education as times change.

From the discussion above, it is obvious that a lot of factors contribute to the abuse of a child which in turn affects the academic performance or achievement of students.

Statement of the Problem

Despite the efforts of Government and non-governmental organisation to reduce the rate of child abuse in the nation, there is still the persistence of this evil at an alarming rate. Therefore, the focus of this study is to investigate the effect of child abuse on the achievements of students in biology in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State.

Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide this study:

  1. What are the effects of child abuse on the academic performance of the child in Biology at Secondary school Level in Etsako West Local Government Area?
  2. Do students from high socio-economic background perform better academically than students from low socio-economic background?
  3. What are the influence of hawking on child’s academic performance?
  4. Do students who are not abused perform better academically than students who are abused?

Research Hypotheses

For the purpose of this study, the following hypotheses have been formulated:

  1. There is no significant difference in the opinions of respondents between the academic performance of the abused child and the child that is not abused in Biology.
  2. There is no significant difference in the opinions of respondents between the academic performance of students from high socio-economic background and students from low socio-economic background.
  3. There is no significant difference in the opinions of respondents between the academic performance of students that go to school early and students that hawks before going to school.
  4. There is no significant difference in the opinions of respondents between the academic performance of children that are cared for and children that are neglected.

Purpose of the Study

The specific objective of this study is to examine the effects of child abuse on the academic achievement of students in biology and to ascertain the possible solution to child abuse in Nigeria society to enable educational institutions, organisations, parents, guardians, teachers, and everyone that finds this work relevant to know various ways in which children that have been abused should be treated.

Owning to this, the researcher has decided to carry out this study, with the aim of examining:

  1. The effect of child abuse on the academic performance of the child in biology at secondary school level.
  2. The factors that contribute to child abuse amongst students in secondary schools.

Significant of the Study

The results of this study may go a long way to be of tremendous importance in alerting the experts in the fight against child abuse. Findings from this study may serve as services which will aid in identifying the various avenues of child abuse and also detect abused children in our society. The findings will also help to adjust and stop actions that results in child abuse. Parents and guardians will then play their roles to the children and give them proper care.

The study will also help teachers and school administrators alike to identify and proffer remedies to problems of child abuse and how to take necessary action to reduce the trend.

Furthermore, this study may also guide governments in knowing the problems of the abused children and how to plan for their welfare.

The findings will also enable the abused child to know their rights as citizens. It may also enable the child to be stable emotionally, socially, and intellectually and this will make the child a better leader of tomorrow.

Scope/Delimitation of the Study

This study is limited in scope to the effects of child abuse on the achievement of students in biology in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State. The study is restricted to only five (5) randomly selected secondary schools, this will be done by administering questionnaire.

Definition of Terms        

Child: A young human being who is not yet an adult.

Abuse: To treat a person or an animal in a cruel or violent way

Neglect: to pay no attention or less attention to someone

Maltreatment: to treat or handle badly, cruelly, or roughly

Child Abuse: this means any mistreatment or neglect of child, which results into physical, emotional and social harm or injury.

Delivery: Within 48 hours

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