PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-CULTURAL CORRELATION OF CHILD ABUSE IN EBONYI STATE: A STUDY OF ABAKALIKI SUBURBS
Child Abuse as a discourse is a major social problem that has aroused concern from individuals in the society, the government as a whole, Non-governmental organizations and International bodies such as the United Nations Organization (UNO) through the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Socio-cultural correlation of Child Abuse in Ebonyi State, Abakaliki Suburb is majorly concerned with the various social and cultural practices of the above mentioned people which serve as correlates of child Abuse. Most of these practices affect the child both psychologically and otherwise, restricting them from becoming proper adults in the society. The study focuses on some various suburban areas in Abakaliki Local Government, Ebonyi State. A total of 120 questionnaires were designed and distributed out of which only about 84 were successfully returned. This represents 70% return rate of data gathered about the abused children. The data were mainly analyzed using tables and simple statistical tool such as chi-square. Recommendations were made based on parental and cultural way of bringing up their children. They should be conscious of the fact that some of these socio-cultural practices serve as correlates of abuse on the child and therefore should be avoided at all cost. This will in turn help reduce drastically the rate of child abuse.
1.1 BACKGROUNDS TO THE STUDY
Child bearing and upbringing is a practice that ensures the continuity of every society. That is to say that any society without child bearing goes into extinction. It is therefore important to note that children are special gifts of nature towards mankind. There is a need for them to be cared for, loved, adorned, cherished, appreciated, understood as well as be provided for. They should be seen as objects of love and parental happiness as the Bible clearly states, “lo, children are heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is the reward. As arrows are in the hands of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.
They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies at the gate. [Psalm 127 vs 3-5 KJV] In the African context, children are observed to be deficient and lacking In many ways. However, Ononuju  opines that children are not enemies of the adults irrespective of their little misbehaviors or shortcomings which are mostly age oriented. Thus, almost all cultures promote appropriate child behavior via trie use of negative reinforcement.
Despite the fact that children are considered precious gifts of nature towards mankind, they still undergo some form of abuse which could stem from parents, guardians or caretakers. It is an irony of science that lower animals without any form of reasoning are able to take proper care of their off springs adequately, but same is sometimes not found in higher animals like man.
Khaldun [1332-1406AD] however articulated that children in the African context are favor from the gods and therefore it is an unthinkable abomination to attempt anything to inhibit the birth of any child except for public good. Children are not only sources of prestige and of family labor but also the main source of ‘social security’ for old age in Africa. The childless couple could very well starve as parents or grandparents are at least assured of a roof over their heads.
In paying close attention and consideration to this, it is obvious that the typical African man gives high value to childbearing as it holds numerous advantages against the childless couple. Yet, amazing is the fact that embedded in this same African culture are some practices that could be disciplinary, tradition based meted out on children which when properly looked into, constitutes one form of abuse or another on the child; not necessarily to the African man but to the outside world.
How can the experiment reconcile the issue of value placed on child bearing in Africa and these various practices carried out on children who pose much threat to their growth and entire existence? It is with this that the researcher has discovered that it lays within the culture complexity of man i.e. the Abakaliki man. It is obvious in his cultural practices, beliefs, norms and value system carried out ignorantly on children.
These practices are mostly done in the confines of their homes, open places like market squares, village squares and at occasional traditional meetings. In the context of this study which is more anthropological, it is important to note that what constitutes child abuse in the West and or other societies may not be the same as that of a mechanical society as Abakaliki suburbs, Ebonyi state.
Here, the various socio-cultural practices carried out on children that are harmful and detrimental to their healthy growth do not constitute child abuse because it is culturally acceptable. Also, it is important to note that most of these various practices have been changing in recent times as the days go by and civilization shines its light on the behavioral patterns of the people. To the Western societies and perhaps other groups of people in Nigeria, these various cultural practices appear barbaric and a great threat to the general wellbeing of the child.
This brings to play the issue of ‘cultural differences‘ and the influence of one’s heritage on behavior patterns and deeply held values which may be fraught with hazards [Mclntyre & Silva 1992]. Sometimes the decision on what constitutes physical or emotional harm to children is made even more complex when one considers the differences on child treatment. While abuse and neglect of children has been documented in most cultures.
Since the dawn of civilization, caretaking practices which are accepted and appropriate in one ethnic group culture is often viewed by those from other groups as being ‘wrong’ or abusive [Hausa & Kempe 1990]. Also, the lack of knowledge that most people possess regarding child abuse and culturally different child rearing creates a fertile ground for misjudging the appropriateness of parental and cultural practices on children [Mclntyre 1987, Garcia 1978].
Child socialization in the western culture does not support most of the treatments and cultural practices carried out on the Abakaliki child as they are considered detrimental to the physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing of the child. Our view of child rearing and expectation of what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior for ourselves and other people, our view of physical beauty and so on are all influenced by the culture and time in which we live in [Social work: Wilson 2008].
The cast of child abuse in our society has gradually grown to such an extent that it has become a problem of interest across the society. It cuts across every level of society and especially prevalent in rural communities such as the suburban areas off Abakaliki; affecting children of the poor, naive and uneducated parents. This issue has constituted problems ranging from death among abused children to nuisance in the society as a result of drop outs from schools, deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Vesico Vaginal Fistula [VVF] and other related killer diseases as observed by the First Lady of Ebonyi State, Chief Mrs. Josephine Elechi. These various resultant effects of socio-cultural child abuse in our society in turn render these children useless to themselves and less significant to the society at large.
PROJECT TOPIC- SOCIO-CULTURAL CORRELATION OF CHILD ABUSE IN EBONYI STATE: A STUDY OF ABAKALIKI SUBURBS
1:2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Abakaliki suburbs today, it is obvious that most children are supposed to be in the schools undergoing personal development and other forms of training are found on the streets hawking, begging, engaged in excessive labour and or conscripted to strange homes as teenage/child wives and mothers. It goes a long way to justify the fact that they are exposed to many anti-social activities which have risen to an unfortunate and unwanted height.
Its resultant effects now become crime, prostitution, increased rate of school dropout children, infections and deadly diseases as a result of early/child marriage, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, etc. these cannot help in the development of their personal skills in order for them to make meaningful contributions to national building. Cultural beliefs and practices, illiteracy and in extreme cases poverty has formed a solid block of abuse on children.
An important goal of this research is directed towards a holistic treatment of child abuse and this has to begin from the discovery of abuse on children down to its effects, impacts on the family and possible suggestions or ways of reducing it to its barest minimum.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the various socio-cultural practices of the people that lead to child abuse in Abakaliki suburbs?
- In what ways do these practices affect the children?
- To what extent does the child feel he/she is being abused?
- Can a training given to a child by his parents be seen as an abuse?
- If viewed by the general public, can these various treatments and cultural practices constitute child abuse?
- Can the gap between what constitutes child abuse to the general public and the cultural practices of Abakaliki suburbs be reconciled?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To determine the socio-cultural correlation of child abuse in Ebonyi State
- To find out the various cultural practices that lead to child abuse in Abakaliki suburb
- To determine the extent to which these various practices
- To bridge the gap between what constitutes child abuse to the general public and the various socio cultural practices of Abalakiki people on their children
- To examine the effects of child abuse on the growth and development of Ebonyi state
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is on the benefit that will be gained by the general public and the individuals in the society. Thus, this is divided into two significantly:-
- THEORETICAL SIGNIFICANCE: – This research work will add to the existing literatures. This means that it will add to the already existing body of knowledge about child abuse, child labor, harmful socio cultural practices and acts on children.
- PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE: – This research work will also help parents to understand their roles and responsibilities towards the welfare of their children. However, it will provide useful information about the various negative effects of the cultural practices being carried out on children and also possible suggestions on how to reorganize these practices to make them less detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the child.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
During the course of this study the limitation encountered are:-
- Financial constraints
- Reliability of data collected
- Bias in provision of answers to the questionnaire items, among others.
1.7 STUDY HYPOTHESIS
Ho1. The major causes of child abuse in Abakaliki suburbs are the culture of the people, poverty and illiteracy among parents.
Ho2. Among the children in Abakaliki suburbs, the most commonly abused are between the ages of 5 and 12 years.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- CHILD: A child according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is “a human being below the age of 18 years” unless under the law applicable to the child.
Africa Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) observes a child as somebody who is not more than the age of 16 years.
- CHILD ABUSE: Child abuse refers to the physical sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department for Child and Families define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm or threat of harm to a child. In other words, this refers to the cruel treatment of children especially by adults, involving sexual activities. It exists in different shapes which can be summarized in an unkind painful and harmful treatment of children.
- SOCIO-CULTURAL: Of or relating to a number of social and cultural This also refers to circumstances relating to both social and cultural matters. The word “socio-cultural” is basically a combination of that which involves both social and cultural factors. It can as well be referred to as the impact of society and culture practices by a person or society.
- CORRELATION: A connection/relationship between two things in which one thing changes as the other does
- CHILD LABOUR: Child labour is a condition where parents or guardians engage or expose their children to work beyond their capacity, usually for economic gains. The Child Labour Elimination Programme (CLEP) sees child labour as work that harms children or keeps them from attending school.
Also, the International Labour Organization Convention sees child labour as work that children should not be doing because they are too young to work or if they are old enough to work because it is dangerous or otherwise not suitable for them.
- CHILD TRAFFICKING: The United States Foreign Affairs Ministry; the Department of States sees child trafficking as all acts involved in the transporting, harboring or sale of persons within national or across international borders through coercion, force, deception or fraud for the purpose of placing persons in situations of forced labor, or services like prostitution, domestic servitude or other slavery like practices.
- SACRILATION: This is the process of mutilating of the child’s body by making cuts on them, of which its effects bring severe pain or injury on the child
- PSYCHOSIS: This term is a condition of mental disorder involving individual personality which is usually caused by much stress.