By Olatidoye Akeem
Studies have shown that 52 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls in Nigeria were victims of physical violence prior to the age of 18.
On the average, deaths and disability resulting from acts of violence against children cost Nigeria N1.42tn annually, a report released by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF ) has revealed.
The amount, according to the report, is equivalent to 1.6 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.
Lives of millions of children in Nigeria have been disturbingly claimed as a result of series of violence they innocently experienced, many still battling with various degrees of injuries sustained from violence while so many are currently in captivity of unknown persons across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
An under-aged, Leah Sharibu was among the 119 students of Dapchi Girls Secondary School, Yobe State that were cruelly kidnapped years ago. Others have been released, but Leah Sharibu is yet to be reunited with her family and no one could actually provide an information about the whereabout of this innocent and promising young brilliant girl.
Also in a the case of violence against children, a 12-year-old boy, Ishola Fawaz from Lagos State was recently attacked by unknown person in his father’s resident at Igbogbo area, Ikorodu, Lagos, when his parents were not around. The suspected assassin entered the Fawaz home and set the boy ablaze, though the little boy cheated death because he was able to receive the kind attention of a good Samaritan.
Ishola Fawaz sustained various degrees of burns on his neck, head, hear, shoulder, hand and part of his face.
Similarly, in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State, two male siblings (brothers), Zeeyum and Tersoo were allegedly killed by Vigilante.
These are just few incidents of violence against children that have been reported in Nigeria.
Speaking on this ugly development, a Research Intern of the International College of Research and Data Science, Mr. Suleiman Akorede reliably hinted that factors causing violence against children are numerous, and unless the security operatives and government take violence against children very serious, this mind boggling societal problems will continue unabated.
Sulaiman advised that the nation security architecture must be strengthened to protect children and other people from the hands of the criminals who have taken violence against children as a culture and practice.
He also called for proper orientation and education to give people an insight into problems associated with violence against children and even adults in the society.
The Research Intern, then called on the Non Governmental Organisations, relevant agencies and individuals to take campaign on violence against children to everyone at various places to discourage violence against children.
He also expressed displeasure over the fact that many children have died as a result of injuries they sustained from
The report of the financial implications of violence against children were released in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr Olajide Olawale; the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Fall; the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; among other top officials in both the public and private sectors of the economy.
Chief of UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Abdulai Kai Kai, in his message at a briefing on the 2017 Children’s Day celebration, said:
“According to the findings of the 2014 Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey conducted by the National Population Commission with the support of the United States Centre for Disease Control and UNICEF, there is a high prevalence of violence against children in all the states in Nigeria.”
According to him, it had been observed that approximately six out of 10 children experienced some forms of violence and 50 percent of all children in Nigeria experienced physical violence.
He added that the “survey also noted that one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence, while one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative. “So on the occasion of this year’s Nigerian Children’s Day, all must take action to end violence against children.
Violence against children is found to be prevalent in all the states in Nigeria. “I particularly call on the six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Plateau and Taraba, which are supported by the UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office to take action to end violence against children.” Kai Kai lamented that out of the six states under the UNICEF, Bauchi Field Office, only Plateau and Taraba adopted Child Rights Laws despite the passage of the Nigeria Child Rights Act by the National Assembly in 2003.
Even at this, hundred of children have experienced violence. Many have died, many were still in captivity at various place that are not known to parents and Nigerian government , while many were still nursing some of the injuries they experienced from violence.
Violence against children is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in Nigeria .
According to the United Nations General Assembly, those children that have experienced violence would undergo some challenges if they were not killed because many were killed: –
Children who are exposed to battering become fearful. They are always on guard, watching and waiting for the next event to occur. They never know what will trigger the abuse, and therefore, they never feel safe.
Guilt Depression -They may blame themselves for the abuse thinking if they had not done or said a particular thing, the abuse would not have occurred.
Withdrawal and Isolation -Children of abuse feel isolated and vulnerable. They are starved for attention, affection and approval. They develop low self esteem. Because mom is struggling to survive and dad is so consumed with controlling everyone. These children become physically, emotionally and psychologically abandoned.
Anger -They may also become angry at their siblings or their mother for triggering the abuse or at both the abuser for the violence and at the mother for being unable to prevent the violence. They may feel rage, embarrassment, and humiliation.
Anxiety- The children may exhibit signs of anxiety and develop a short attention span which may result in poor school performance and attendance. They may experience developmental delays in speech, motor or cognitive skills.
Violence -Remember the phrase “Violence begats violence” – Children exposed to domestic violence tend to also use violence to express themselves displaying increased aggression with peers or mother.
They can become self-injuring. Boys who witness their mothers’ abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes. For girls, adolescence may result in the belief that threats and violence are the norm in relationships.
Drug Abuse /Alcohol -Exposure to domestic violence can have long-lasting negative affect on a child’s development and future life choices. They themselves may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to understand or cope with their feelings.
Run away -Abuse by family members make running away appear to be the best option for teenagers who are unable to find help to change an abusive home life.
Constant sickness -Often, the behavioral and emotional impacts of domestic and family violence will improve when children and their mothers are safe, the violence is no longer occurring and they receive support and specialist counselling.
Conclusively, it is important for Nigeria Government to pay more attention to the issue of child protection in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Olatidoye, is a journalist based in Ilorin.