We most times hear of children who dial 911, just to report their parents abusive nature to the police; some even go as far as arresting their abusive parents, and choosing to live in the care of a government-sponsored shelter, but that is in western countries as, these is a rare in Nigeria, not because it is not possible but, because it is alien to us and not our tradition. Even a child who reports either of the parent to the police, knows what awaits him or her at home afterwards.
There is hardly an adult today, who does not have a story to tell, on how he or she was disciplined by the parents while growing up, either with the “koboko” or “pankere” (both meaning cane). However, while carrying out a personal research earlier today, I came across a picture and the story of a 65 years old man, who defiled his tenant’s 7-year old daughter. These story pierced me through and I can not help but wonder, why those who are suppose to be protecting these little angels, are the same ones who harm them; Hence this article.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children.
More so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) 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.
My parents some time say, a man does not live long enough to make all the mistakes in life, in order to correct his actions or path; but by learning from other people’s mistakes, he will live long. In essence, a child does not necessarily have to be corrected by his parents, but any adult around, can equally correct a child if he or she goes wrong.
Following the trend of child abuse in Nigeria, I noticed that most children who suffer abuse, either get abused by their neighbour, uncle, aunt, teachers, pastor, parent etc, these are people who the child should normally feel protected and at peace with. According to statistics, these abuse happens over-time and these kids, sometime do not have someone to cry to, either out of fear of being stigmatised by friends, family or the general public; and even when they do, the parents sometimes admonish them and cover-up the crime, without reporting to appropriate agencies. The culprit goes around harming other kids.
Child abuse can occur in a child’s home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse:
Neglect – the worst mistake parents in Nigeria make today, is neglect. Parents most times put their jobs or business first, while leaving their wards in the care of a supposed caregiver, either a nanny, uncle, aunt or even neighbours.
Physical abuse – these mostly occurs when the supposed caregiver to the child, is either an uncle, aunt, teacher etc. Children who suffer physical abuse daily with no one to save them from their plight tend to get hardened from the expereince.
Psychological or Emotional abuse – These is very common amongst Nigerian parents, who most times call their wards abusive names, not minding how it affects them emotionally or psychologically, the child on the other hand, while trying to prove the parents wrong, may fall into the hands of strange individuals, and;
Sexual abuse – sexual urge is common in men, than it is in women. Parents should ensure the safety of the female child, especially with male neighbours, uncles or friends.
However, with the level of awareness in Nigeria today, I believe every child in Nigeria will get to know his or her right with time. And the parents even if not sure who to meet, may report at the nearest police station or search for agencies handling abuse in Nigeria online. There are various agencies to report to and file a suit in the case of a sexual abuse and physical abuse etc the police should also not be left out when making reports, as they most times work hand-in-hand with such bodies