Need to curb child abuse in Nigeria

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child abuse in Nigeria
child abuse in Nigeria

By the time anyone reads this editorial, tendency is that a child will be abused in one part of the country or the other. In fact, the increasing child abuse is becoming a social embarrassment and national disgrace. We are very much concerned about this negative phenomenon, which if unchecked, would jeopardise the future of our children. Child abuse is defined as the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. It is also any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or guardian that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.
Although child abuse can appear in different forms and the awareness levels of people and their reactions to it may vary, however the importance and extent of this predicament is a global issue. The family is the most important and the original institution of society for bringing up and protecting children. However, this same institution can be the cause of violence, pain and suffering. Today in Nigeria, children are murdered, maimed, assaulted, battered, abducted and even sold. These activities are to the detriment of the child’s physical or mental health, education, moral or social-emotional development. Alarming is that they are employed as child labour, even as many are becoming the family breadwinners.
It is common to see children below the ages of five and six years hawking wares on busy roads and highways when they should be in school.  In the course of this, they are exposed to dangers posed by vehicles and even kidnappers. A recent survey by the National Population Commission (NPC) in conjunction with UNICEF and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, found a high prevalence of violence against children in Nigeria. Approximately six out of every 10 Nigerian children experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years. One in two children experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence, and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence.
More disgraceful is the increasing sexual violence against young girls by those who should be protecting them. Most times, such act results in the transmission of venereal diseases and even HIV/AIDS. It bears repeating that all violence against children and especially child maltreatment in the first decade of life is both a problem in itself and a major risk factor for other forms of violence and health problems through a person’s life. Studies show that child physical abuse, sexual abuse and other childhood adversities are the cause of excessive smoking, eating disorders, and high-risk sexual behaviour, associated with some of the leading causes of death including cancers and cardiovascular disorders.
Generally, the exposure of children to violence results in their greater susceptibility to a wide range of lifelong social, emotional and cognitive impairments. We are therefore calling on the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to enact a comprehensive Child   Rights Act to protect the Nigerian child from all forms of abuse. A nation’s future is measured by how it treats and provides for its children and vulnerable population. Therefore, a just, vibrant, and thriving Nigeria is predicated on protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.  What the country needs now is a commitment in addressing the increasing violence against children. To achieve this, Nigeria must promote a clear and unequivocal intolerance of all forms of violence against children within society;

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