Child Abuse: Definition Essay

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Child abuse is not a new phenomenon in the history of man. Child abuse is not a new thing in the world. Child abuse has become an alarming issue in Nigeria. Recent reports have proven that child abuse varies from one region to another. Child abuse can be found in almost every work activity and organization worldwide. In the context of work activities street hawking, child trafficking, street begging, agriculture and mines among others can be covered. Owolabi (2012) and Okafor (2010), both highlighted in their research that child abuse is very dominant in the urban areas of Nigeria while Ojo (2013) noted that the reason for such is total bent on the psychological aspect of survival and material gain in the urban areas.

The increasing cases of child abuse in Nigeria can be rooted in the promotion of human trafficking among the rural dwellers (UNESCO, 2006) which has drastically impacted the livelihood of urban residents leading to a reduction in the value of labor and increased crime rates along with other forms of child abuse.

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The term child abuse is seen as the process by which children are exposed to maltreatment by parents or guardians (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi, and Ndifon, 2010). Axmaher (2010) defined child abuse as any mistreatment or neglect of the child that results in non-accidental harm or injury and which cannot be reasonably explained. Obekpa (2011) view child abuse as any condition injurious to physical or emotional health that has been inflicted by parents, guardian, or other caretakers. Igbo and Ekoja (2013) define it as a non-accidental injury inflicted on a child by a parent or guardian.

Abuse according to Isanghedehi (2004) could be seen in three perspectives physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. To Oniyama, Oniyama, and Asamaigbo (2004), child abuse manifests in four main categories viz; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.

Physical abuse refers to any contact with the body of the child, which may result in an injury. Such contact may involve beating, hitting, kicking, shaking, punching, biting, or any act or omission that is not an accident but that which brings some injuries to the child’s body.

Emotional abuse is any act on the part of a parent or caregiver that has the potential for or has actually caused serious emotional cognitive, mental, or behavioral disorders. Emotional abuse is evident when a parent or caregiver uses abusive words such as blockhead, good for nothing, or a mistake, on the child or when the child is locked up in a room, tired both hands and feet, or not allowed to make friends. Mba (2013) maintained that emotional abuse implies constantly blaming the child, belittling and or berating the child, being unconcerned about the child’s welfare, and overtly rejecting the child by parents or caretakers, or caregivers.

Sexual abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver engages in inappropriate sexual behaviors with the child. This may take the form of actual sexual intercourse, kissing, fondling, or genitals or either the abuser or the abused. According to Uzoezie (2004), sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older person uses his or her power over a child. The abuse may trick, bribe, threaten and if possible force a child to take part in sexual activity.

Neglect according to Okpara (2001) includes inadequate feeding, shelter and lack of supervision, inadequate body care, poor clothing, poor and denial of medicinal attention, and inadequate provision of educational materials and supervision. Other aspects of neglect may include letting the child live in a filthy environment and non-provision of proper nourishment.

Other aspects of child abuse may include child exploitation, slavery, trafficking, and abandonment. The different forms of abuse affect the child in all spheres of life including academic attainment.

Conversely, a child is said to be abused when the parents, caregivers, or any human action leads to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of the child. It also involves the failure of the parents to provide the necessary love and care for the child.

The definition of Child cannot be pinned onto just a single idea or word from a particular scholar or expert, according to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary a child is a boy or girl from the time of birth until he or she is an adult or a son or daughter of any age. Owolabi (2012) in his words stated that a Child refers to any individual lesser than the age of majority. In the Nigerian Labour Act of 1990, a child is a young person under the age of 12 years (section 91-1).

Following the uncertainty in the confusing definitions given to the term “child” by earlier legal and customary laws, the Child’s Rights Act (2003) in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) defines a child as a person who has not attained the age of 18 years. To serve the best interest of the child in all matters concerning higher as stipulated in the CRC, ACRWC, and CRA, this study, therefore, adopts the definition enshrined in the Child’s Rights Act (2003).

Speaking to the definition of child abuse, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines child abuse as when adults intentionally treat children in a cruel or violent way. African Network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) defines child abuse as “the intentional, unintentional or well intentional acts which endanger the physical health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of children. Based on this definition Umobong (2010) noted that Child abuse is generally anything that might endanger the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional health and development”.

There are various forms of child abuse as identified by numerous scholars but Umobong (2010) summarized the different forms of child abuse into 5 subheadings which are: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and child exploitation.

Physical abuse: According to Owolabi (2012) who said that Physical abuse may be seen as the inflicting of a non-accidental bodily injury on a child. The injury may not have been intended by the parent or caretaker and is not an accident but may be due to over-discipline or corporal punishment that may not be appropriate or is unjustifiable for the child at that age. According to the above definition, physical abuse may take the form of severe beating in the name of chastisement and correction or subjecting the child to degrading and inhuman conditions or lack of proper care and maintenance or abandonment. Flogging, kneeling, frog jumping and tough physical drill are frequent forms of physical abuse in juvenile homes (Alemika et al., 2005).

Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is also known as verbal abuse, mental abuse, or psychological maltreatment. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (2006) defines emotional abuse as “acts or omissions by the parents or guidance that are reliable to cause serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional or mental disorders”. Emotional abuse can thus be seen as an attitude, behavior, or failure to act on the part of a caregiver which interferes with a child’s mental health, social development, or sense of self-worth. It is probably the least understood, yet the most prevalent, cruelest, and destructive type of abuse. It attacks the child's self-concept making the child see herself as unworthy, worthless, and incapable. When a child is constantly humiliated, shamed, terrorized, or rejected the child suffers more than if heshe had been physically maltreated. The resulting effect is that most children often withdraw to themselves leading to depression and lack of concentration in school (Khartri, 2004). According to Umobong (2010), bullying is another form of emotional abuse that takes place in schools and at homes by senior or older children.

Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse is defined by CAPTA (Khartri, 2004) as the employment, use of persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexual conduct so as to produce a representation of such conduct. It is rape, and in cases of the caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other forms of sexual exploitation of children or incest with children. As a result of the secrecy that characterizes these cases; sexual abuse is the most often underreported form of child maltreatment. Sexually abused children experience emotional problems from a feeling of guilt and shame (Corwin and Olafson, 1997). Owolabi (2012) defined child sexual abuse as the involvement of a child in sexual activities that heshe does not fully comprehend and is unable to give informed consent. It constitutes a serious infringement of a child’s right to health and protection.

Neglect: This is a failure to provide basic needed care for the child such as shelter, food, clothing, education, supervision, medical care, and other basic necessities needed for the child's physical, intellectual, and emotional development (Umobong, 2010). It is a situation where the guardians or parents fail to perform tasks that are necessary for the well-being of the child which invariably can lead to the child’s health and safety being endangered. As cited by Owolabi (2012), the Criminal Code (1990: section 301) provides that failure to supply the necessities of life without lawful excuse for those to whom one owes such a duty is a felony punishable with a term of imprisonment where the life of that other is thus endangered. Child in thuggery, a child in crime, and child labor were all categorized by Adimula (2005) to be the products of child neglect

Child Exploitation: Child exploitation often referred to as child labor or child trafficking involves the use of a child in work or other activities for the benefit of others. Child exploitation is a systematic process of using children to work with little or no compensation and consideration for their health and safety (Newton, 2001). These children are used to doing hard work on farms that are above their ages and some are made to hawk wares for long hours without food. Such children rarely benefit from education and will eventually drop out of school. By the time these children reach adulthood, they are physically, emotionally, morally, and intellectually damaged.

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Child Abuse: Definition Essay. (2023, September 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/child-abuse-definition-essay/
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