The incidence of violence against children is on the high with concerned groups decrying the alarming increase. The growing scourge has also witnessed the clamour for stringent penalties on abusers to end the menace which is ranked as the third highest crime in the country, after economic fraud and drug related offences. AHMED BOULOR reports…
Wearing a well-sewn Ankara dress as she sat at the reception inside the premises of Child Protection Network (CPN) located along Iyana Iba road in Lagos, Aisha (not real name) cut the picture of a young girl who seemed full of life, yet a bit withdrawn.
The abused girl, now 14-year-old, it was learnt, started to suffer the pangs of torture about seven years ago when her dad (now married to another woman)
took her to stay with her mom who lives alone in the Igando area of Lagos.
Unknown to her, she was earmarked to recount via an interview the abusive experience she encountered in the hands of her mother which came to the open after she ran away from home and later found a safe haven under the umbrella of the Child Protection Network.
When she was approached to narrate her ordeal, the facial expression of the seemingly happy girl changed, showing she didn’t want to recall all she went through in the hands of the woman she calls her mother.
Her body language also revealed what was going through her mind as she paced aimlessly around the reception area of the office trying to get a hold of what was asked of her.
After much appeal and persuasion, Aisha who’s eyes were now misty, painfully decided to open up on her ordeal which according to her started after her mom complained that she had lost some money, and pointed accusing fingers at her.
Labelled a witch, chained to a chair for a year by her mom
Aisha said her torture in the hands of her biological mother started in 2015 when she was 11-years-old after their pastor labelled her a witch which made her father send her to live with her mother.
She said initially, her mother treated her well but changed her attitude towards her when she lost the sum of N40, 000 (forty thousand) in her apartment and pointed accusing fingers at her.
Aisha said her ordeal got worse when her mother went to church and was also told by her own pastor that her daughter who was spiritually possessed was the one who stole her money.
“After the pastor told her that I was a witch, she returned home accusing me of stealing her money and that was where my ordeal in the hands of my mother started. I was later sent to a nearby church for cleansing, where I was chained for several days. I was barely fed while I was bound with the chain and somehow I freed myself and fled the church because I couldn’t withstand the hunger I was faced with there.
“I was later apprehended and brought back to the church where I was bound with a bigger chain for three more days before I was released and sent back home. While at home, the torment was unbearable and I was constantly seeking ways to run away because of my idleness. I later summed up courage to tell my mum that I want to go to school but she resented the idea saying my father who had abandoned me was not ready to fund my education”.
Afraid that she could elope again, Aisha said her mother resorted to chaining her to a chair at her home.
“I was chained to a chair by my mum for one year and did chores like washing clothes and plates while I was bound to the chair by chains in her apartment. Our neighbours later got wind of the treatment being meted out to me by my mum who treated me like a prisoner. The experience was not pleasant at all because she usually rains curses on me and calls me unprintable names which I felt so bad about”.
However, Aisha said, a year after, she was chased into the streets by her mom who told her never to return saying if she did, she will be bound with a bigger chain and would be left to suffer.
“My mum chased me into the streets warning me never to return, and days later I was accosted by some policemen who saw me roaming on the streets and they asked me about my parents. I told them they were both dead because that was what my mum told me to say whenever anyone asked me about my folks. The cops later took me to the police station where I was taken to a child shelter”.
‘She bore marks of torture all over’
According to Goldman Kalu, an official of Child Protection Network, Aisha was looking unkept and withdrawn when she was brought to the institution’s child shelter. He said Aisha bore marks of torture all over her body and found it hard initially to associate with other kids at the shelter.
“She wasn’t looking good when she arrived; you could see the traces of torture written all over her. Aisha was withdrawn and she refused to eat for one week and we applied psychological means to make her cheerful, feel free, associate with other people and most importantly have something to eat.
“As the days unfolded, we saw marks (razor cuts) she got from the torture she went through in the hands of her mother. There was also a permanent scar around her wrists and legs which she sustained when she was chained. Sometimes she breaks down in tears recalling her experience after she was labelled a witch by her mum.
“She told us that she was chained to a chair for one year and most of the time, she would move about and around the house in chains as she carried out her chores at home, washing the family clothes as the official laundry girl and plates in the kitchen. We tried our best to give her hope and make her understand that despite all she had gone through that she can still live a normal life”.
Goldman said the Child Protection Network, did its best to ensure that Aisha who one day hopes to become a medical doctor got the rehabilitation required for her to be re-integrated into the society and live a normal life like every child should.
“One of the things we did initially was home-tracing which is trying to locate a member of her family. When we eventually reached a member of her family (her mother) who had not seen her daughter for three-years, she didn’t feel excited seeing her daughter. She wasn’t even moved and acted as if she didn’t see Aisha, meaning that when she was chased away from home, her mother never ever wanted to hear from her because of the witch-tag she was labelled with. It was even passers-by and neighbours who had not seen Aisha for a long time that persuaded her mum to embrace her child whom she hadn’t seen for 36-months.
“We also ensured that she mingles and associates with other children at the child shelter where we have other kids like her. She has been an active participant in daily activities and the church where she is one of the best voices in the choir. For now we have been able to make her feel at home and not to relapse into recalling the torture dished out to her by her mum, even as she is now looking forward to a brighter future.”
‘Why victims wallow in silence’
One of the major reasons cited why most victims choose not to talk about their situation is the fact that parents of such victims of child abuse prefer to save their children from shame and stigmatization.
According to Mrs. Veronica N. Eze, Head, Litigation/Mediation Committee of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Lagos, “In many of the cases, children were usually victims as well but their mothers would rather focus on how she will either leave the abusive relationship/marriage with her children or get the perpetrator to stop the abuse.”
Mrs Eze revealed that FIDA mostly receives complaints that border on domestic violence against women which described as often ‘bizarre’ and very ‘pathetic’.
Reported cases of child abuses from different parts of the country, suggest that there were more of such incidents in Lagos, Ogun and Katsina states. According to a copy of the Child Protection Network Information Management and Data Collection records cited by Ripplesnigeria, there were 36 cases of violence against children registered by the NGO in Lagos State.
Alimosho LGA leads with a total of 14 cases, followed by Kosofe LGA, 4 cases, Oshodi-Isolo LGA, 2 cases, Mushin LGA, 4 cases, Ikorodu LGA, 2 cases, Apapa LGA ,1 case, Ikeja LGA, 1 case, Ajeromi LGA, 1 case, Shomolu LGA, 1 case, Agege LGA, 1 case, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGA also recording,1 case.
In 2017 alone, at least 31 cases of violence against children were recorded in the media with Lagos leading with 9 cases, Ogun had 4 reported cases while Katsina had 4 cases. Others are Niger State: 3 cases, Kano State: 1 case, Anambra State: 1 case, Ebonyi State: 1 case, Rivers State: 2 cases, Cross River State: 1 case, Delta State: 2 cases, Akwa Ibom: 1 case, Kaduna State: 1 case, Osun State: 1 case, Kebbi State: 1 case and Edo State with 1 case.
Many stakeholders strongly believe that the cases of violence and abuses against children in the country is far more, as only a small percentage of such incidences are officially reported.
Just like Aisha, many suffer such child abuse categorised as sexual (rape), emotional (harassment) and physical (flogging/beating) in Nigeria which is on the high going by a survey conducted by the National Population Commission (NPC) with the support of the United Centres for Disease Control and UNICEF.
The 2014 survey reveals that half of Nigerian children go through at least one violent experience before the age of 18, a growing trend which if not averted could lead to substantial economic losses estimated at 2-8 per cent GDP according to the Nigerian Population Commission.
In 2016, a survey conducted by the NPC with support from UNICEF and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that millions of children suffer abuse every year in Nigeria – approximately 6 out of every 10 children experience some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence before the age of 18.
Time-line of violent incidences against children reported in the media between January 1 and December 31, 2017
February 2 – Cobbler arraigned for sexually assaults 5-year-old
20-year-old cobbler Kingsley Philips was paraded before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court for allegedly sexual assaulting of his neighbour’s five-year-old daughter.
The suspect who pleaded not guilty to the charge of ‘fingering’ the five-year-old daughter, in his apartment in Idimu, Lagos State was arrested after the child told her mother about the incident when she noticed she was having vaginal discharges following the sexual assault.
March 7– 6-month-old baby raped by unnamed affluent man in Kano
A yet-to-be named affluent man who resides in Kano State aided by his wife (a friend of the victim’s family) reportedly raped six-month-old girl identified as Khadija Bashir.
Days after the incident was reported, the Kano State Government, said it would ensure that whoever is found involved in the reported rape of the victim would go to jail.
March 8 – 3-year-old stepdaughter raped by 45-year-old stepdad
A 45-year-old-man, identified only as Bawa was arrested by men of the Niger State Police Command after he allegedly raped his three-year-old step daughter.
Reports say Bawa was arrested in Kundu, a village in Rafi Local Government Area of the state after he was caught by his wife sexually abusing her daughter moments after she turned down his overtures for sex.
March 21– Middle-aged man arrested for torturing 14-year-old son
A middle-aged man identified as Chinedu Okeke who resides at New GRA Trans Ekulu in Enugu East council area of Anambra state was arrested by cops for alleged torture and abuse of his 14-year-old son under the guise of applying disciplinary measure.
Middle aged man, Chinedu, arrested for torturing 14-year-old son
Chinedu was arrested after he was said to have engaged in inhuman treatment of his son Kelechi (whose mother was said to have divorced the suspect). When cops stormed his residence on March 15, they found his son, tied with rope and his body inflicted with severe injuries.
March 30– 55-year-old man rapes 17-month old stepdaughter
Residents of Marmachi village of Musawa Local Government Area, Katsina State were left in shock when, Magaji Dansale, 55, was arrested for raping his 17-month-old step daughter.
The mother of the baby identified as Zeenat Muntari, who separated with the father of the baby and married Dansale, said that after suspecting that she drunk some substances that made her to sleep for several hours, her husband went on to defile her baby.
April 5: 1-year-old child raped by 16-year-old boy in Ebonyi
The rape of 1-year-old child by a 16-year-old neighbour was brought to the notice of the Ebonyi State Police Command by the victim’s mother who according to reports found the suspect bathing her daughter in a bid to stop the bleeding from her private part.
According to the victim’s mother who said she kept her baby in the care of her elder daughter, the suspect took advantage of her absence to rape her daughter who was later placed in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State after the incident.
April 11– 7-year-old girl sexually violated by 14-year-old boy
A 14-year-old boy, name withheld was arrested after he allegedly raped a seven-year-old girl, in an incident which took place in Bariga, Lagos State.
According to reports, the teenager broke into the toilet where the girl was relieving herself and proceeded to rape her there and was caught by neighbours and the girl’s mother after the victim raised an alarm.
May 27– Man brutally beats stepson for buying bread instead of cigarette
A yet-to-be named man was arrested by security operatives in Lagos after he allegedly inflicted deep machete cuts on his step son for buying bread instead of cigarette.
The 6-year-old victim identified as Emmanuel was however luckily rescued by officials of Basic Right Counsel (BRC) who rushed the boy to the General Hospital after his stepfather inflicted a deep cut on his right forearm bone which reportedly got infected.
May 22– One-year-old gang raped in Katsina by 3 men
Snatched from the back of her mother, Suwaiba Ahmadu, a one-year-old girl was gang raped by three unknown men who took her into a bush located at Danju Local Government in Katsina State where they defiled her until she fell into a coma.
A manhunt was later launched by the Katsina State Police which later fished out the suspects identified as Suleiman, Musa and a third suspect who is yet-to-be named.
May 22– Man, 39, arrested in Rivers State for killing his 7-year-old son over alleged stealing
The long arm of the law caught up with 39-year-old Richard Inimgba- a resident of Amadi-Ama in Port Harcourt after he killed his seven-year-old son George Inimgba, for allegedly stealing the sum of N3, 200.
According to the police in Rivers State, Richard who was arrested alongside George’s stepmother, Blessing Inimgba reportedly used a cutlass to inflict cuts on his son after beating him up with a plank.
Gabriel later died following the violence meted out to him and his father wanted to keep his death a secret, but the carpenter who his father secretly invited to prepare a coffin for his burial raised an alarm after sighting the cuts on the body of the deceased.
June 6: HIV positive man rapes 13-year-old girl in Calabar
A man identified as Edet James Asuquo was arrested by men of the Cross River State Police Command for allegedly raping and infecting a 13-year-old girl with HIV.
According to the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, Asuquo who was later charged to court, was on a quest to fulfil a personal vendetta to spread the deadly virus as far as possible.
Men of the Ogun State Police Command apprehended a suspect identified Nurudeen Akintoye after her allegedly raped a deaf and dumb girl, in a bush in Obafemi-owodem of Ogun State.
According to reports, Nurudeen narrowly escaped lynching by an angry mob after he was arrested by cops who save him from the hands of an angry mob which threatened to spill blood after he raped the girl who was hitherto a virgin.
June 21– 41-year-old man nabbed for torturing 13-year-old son in Ogun State
41-year-old man, Adeoye Oreyomi was whisked away by men of the Ogun State Police Command after he reportedly beat up his son, Damola, chaining his hands and legs for stealing the sum of N2, 000.
Damola was however rescued and rushed to Owokoniran Hospital in Sagamu after neighbours filed a complaint when they feared the boy might die.
July 31– 13-year-old boy burnt with iron, tied to window by his father
A 13-year-old boy was rescued by a group of vigilante, in the Eruemukohwarien community, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, when they heard his voice while he was being tortured by his father, Austin Segun.
When he was found, the boy, Tobi Segun, who had a sore as a result of being burnt by a hot pressing iron was tied to a burglar-proof and when asked, his father who said he had been in that state for the past three days said he was being punished because a Church leader said the boy was a wizard.
Two homeless kids were rescued from the streets by volunteers at Child’s Right Rehabilitation Network (CRAN) who later brought them to their shelter in based in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.
Two kids accused of witchcraft, malnourished, rescued in Akwa Ibom
According to the NGO, two of the children were brutally tortured in prayer houses for months before being thrown out into the streets while the third child managed to escape when a man tried to force her and other kids into a vehicle.
July 31– 10-year-old battered, burnt without treatment by her aunt in Kaduna
A 10-year-old girl who lives with her uncle in Gonigora, Kaduna was finally saved from the wicked reign of her aunt when she was rescued by security operatives.
The girl who is said to be malnourished, battered and out of school, was rescued after her uncle’s wife Mrs Remi Joseph allegedly burnt her buttocks with fire and abandoned her without treatment.
It took the report of a neighbour to bring the attention of the public to the notice of the terror being meted out on the girl by her aunt who was later arrested and charged to court for her actions.
August 11– 45-yr-old man lands in court for flogging 4-yr-old son to death
Sikiru Adebayo, a 45-year-old mechanic was arraigned before a magistrates’ court in Osogbo, Osun State, presided over by Mrs. Fatimoh Sodamade for flogging his 4-year-old son, Uthman, to death over stealing their neighbour’s belt.
The offence by Adebayo was committed on July 31 in the Abidogun Zone 7 area of Osogbo, according to the prosecutor Mr. Duro Adekunle.
August 13– Man, wife arrested for cutting off index finger of 7-year-old daughter
Nasiru Adeyemo, and his wife, Idayat, both landed in police net for cutting off the index finger of his daughter from his previous marriage.
The suspects were arrested by men of the Ogun state police command after his seven-year-old daughter was found tied up in a sack and was dumped along Asabala area along Papalanto-Sagamu Road to die.
August 16– 29-year-old Pastor nabbed for sexually molesting two daughters of his co-Pastor
Cletus Metitiri, a 29-year-old Pastor at Christ Exalted Ministries was arrested for sexually molesting the daughters of his co-Pastor.
Pastor nabbed for sexually molesting two daughters of his co-Pastor
The suspect was arrested by men of the Delta State Police Command after the father of the girls aged 11 and 13 reported the matter which happened at the Obiaruku area of the state.
August 18– 30-year-old man arrested for sleeping with his 14-year-old daughter
Men of the Katsina State Police Command arrested Aliyu Inusa, 30, who allegedly had sex with his 14-year-old daughter, on the instruction of a herbalist, who assured him that doing so would bring him good luck and money.
August 21– Cops arrest couple for torturing, chaining 11-year-old in a toilet
An 11-year-old girl identified as Oluchi was saved from the hands of a couple in Ogun State, Chioma and Innocent Anozie, who reportedly flogged the victim with ropes, starved her of food, and locked her up in a toilet.
Chioma and Innocent Anozie…Tortured an 11years old child
Reports say the couple who have now both been arrested meted out such punishment to the victim for two days just because she wanted to play with other children in the neighbourhood.
September 25– Woman arrested for setting husband’s 10-year-old brother ablaze
A nursing mother identified as Gift Igwe was arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command for setting her husband’s 10-year-old brother ablaze for misplacing his trousers which she bought for him.
10-year-old boy set ablaze for misplacing his trousers
The boy identified as Chimobi, was later taken into protective custody by the Lagos State Government after the incident which happened at his elder brothers apartment located on Adenugba Street, Agunfoye, Ikorodu.
September 9– Unidentified woman arrested for setting little boy ablaze for misplacing cloth
A Facebook user Jecinta Ifesinachi posted a picture of an unidentified woman who was arrested in the Ikorodu area of Lagos state for allegedly setting a little boy on fire because he misplaced the cloth she bought for him.
October 17– 50-year-old arrested in Katsina for raping 3-year-old girl to death
Tragedy struck in the Jabiri, Funtua local government area of Katsina State when a 50-year-old man, Abdullahi Sani allegedly raped a three-year -old girl to death.
His arrest was confirmed by the spokesperson for the Katsina State Police Command, DSP Gambo Isah, who said Sani lured the child to an uncompleted building and forcefully had carnal knowledge of her.
November 1– Man arrested for setting his son ablaze after he quarrelled with his elder brother
The Rights Protection Agency in Niger State arrested a 43-year-old man Malam Musa Mohammed, for setting his 15-year-old son, Bello Musa, ablaze.
His arrest was confirmed by Mrs Mairam Kolo, the Director-General of the agency who said the incident occurred around Polytechnic Road, Bida, in Bida Local Government Area of the state.
November 3– Man arrested for raping 6-year-old daughter
Agu Echezona Harrison, a middle-aged man, was paraded before an Ikeja High Court for allegedly defiling his six-year-old daughter.
Reports say the man attacked journalists covering the case in court claiming his act ‘Is a family affair’.
November 7– Boss scalds face of Secondary school student
A middle-aged woman in Port Harcourt was arrested after she poured hot water on the face of her maid just because she allowed kerosene in the stove she was using to cook yam to dry.
Boss scalds face of her maid
The victim is a 14-year-old student of Government Girls Secondary School, Oromineke, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
November 8– Two brothers arrested for raping 13-year-old
Two brother identified as Saviour Philip, 35, and Paul Philip, 17 were arrested by policemen for taking turns in raping their 13-year-old niece at their one-room apartment on Olowolagba Street, off Odunsi, Bariga area of Lagos State.
November 11– Man arraigned for raping 13-year-old housemaid at knifepoint
Mr. Ulonna Amaobi, who resides at Iyana Iba, Lagos, was paraded before the Ikeja Magistrate’s Court, for raping his 13-year-old housemaid multiple times at knifepoint.
Ulonna Amaobi… Arraigned for raping 13-year-old housemaid at knife-point
The victim who is an indigene of Jos in Plateau State said she was sent to live with the Amaobi’s in Lagos, as their pastor father was financially challenged. She also revealed that the suspect her mistress Mrs Ameobi who later got wind that her husband was violating her gave her an alcoholic herbal drink to prevent any pregnancy.
November 15– Court remands two men for raping minor girl and having anal sex with teenage boy in Kebbi
Two men identified as Bashir Samaila and Faruq Abubakar were both remanded by a Magistrate Court sitting in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, presided over by Magistrate Abubakar Atiku for allegedly defiling a minor and having anal sex with a teenage boy.
November 22– Lagos State Commissioner of Police rescues 13-year-old girl whose Madam locked indoors and travelled out of Nigeria
Lagos State Commissioner of Police Ag CP Imohimi Edgal rescued a 13-year-old girl Nkechi Oseh whose Madam locked indoors and travelled out of Nigeria for holidays.
According to reports, her Madam, Ms Betty Ifeoma, a staff of NNPC Lagos state office left the girl with only two 2 packets of cabin biscuit at her residence at No. 30 Adeniran Ajao Estate Anthony, Lagos before traveling out of the country.
December 17– Department of Public Prosecution rescues 2-year-old boy maltreated by his father and step mother
A 2-year-old boy who was maltreated by his father and step mother in Edo State was rescued by the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) after a complaint was lodged by a neighbour.
According to Ehis Agugu, the Chief Welfare Officer at the Edo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, little Lucky Pius was rescued from his abusive father and stepmother.
‘Our government and institutions have lost it’
In her reaction to a 2014 survey by the Nigerian Population Commission which states that one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence as well as one in 6 girls and one in 5 boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative, Joe Odumakin, President Women Arise for Change Initiative said it is a sad reminder of the disrespect and disregard for the Nigerian child by individuals, institutions and governments.
“The survey report laid credence to the prevalence of child abuse and molestation in Nigeria. The recent spate of child abuse in the country is a sad reminder of the total disrespect and disregard for the Nigerian child by individuals, institutions and governments. It is an abysmal state of societal disregard and disrespect for the rights of the Nigerian child. It is sad to see that the Nigeria space is no longer safe as children are exposed to several dangerous situations raging from; sexual abuse, exploitation, stigmatization, domestic abuse, child labour, baby factory syndrome, child trafficking and lots more.
Joe Odumakin… President Women Arise for Change Initiative
“It is so unfortunately to observe that these children are sometimes abused by their own parents, family members and care givers, who are supposed to be the first line of protection for them.
“Recently, there has been a rise in the degree of mental and physical abuse of children. It is also the conditions that increase the risk of children to sexual assault, it can be found in schools and the practice of child labour. It includes infliction of bodily injury on the child,” she said.
Odumakin noted that the only way the worrying trend can be reduced to the barest minimum is when the Child Rights Law adopted in 2003 is embraced across the 36 states of the federation as only 16 out of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act.
“In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Law to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the federal level, it is only effective if the State Assembly enacts it. Till date, only 16 out of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act. So to stem the tide of violence against children all the states of the federation must pass the law and implement it thoroughly. States who have passed the law should give the law practice direction and also strengthen its implementation “The National Assembly should strengthen the laws against child molestation; the enforcement of the existing laws will curb the resort to sentiments and pressures which allow child abuse suspects to plead with families of their victims not to be protected.”
She also added that civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations should offer counselling, finance and early warning education and also enjoined the Nigerian Police to establish special desks dedicated to cases of child violence. “Civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations should offer counselling, finance and early warning education. Corporal punishment should also be prohibited in schools and care-giving homes.
“Also, to entrench respect for the rights of the Nigerian child in the consciousness of society and promote the culture of patience and tolerance for children, government should intensify efforts to ensure that policies on child rights protection are implemented. Religious institutions should also assist government by building a strong foundation for the protection of the rights of children in homes and the society through their programmes and activities.”
According to Dr Odumakin, the Women Arise for Change Initiative received complaints and recorded 35 cases of rape, sexual harassment, torture and maltreatment of under aged children/kids from various parts of Lagos and Ogun States.
She said 10 cases were recorded from the Arepo, Magboro, Ibafo/Mowe axis of Ogun State; 12 were received from Alimosho/Agege/Ayobo axis; 5 from Ojodu/Ogba/Olowoira/Isheri axis; 3 from Ifako-Ijaye/Ojokoro/Agbado and 1 from Ogudu area of Lagos State.
‘Children are losing their innocence’
One of the long term effects of child abuse is that most victims tend to be promiscuous aside the fact that he/she will become withdrawn, lose trust and also have poor grades in school, so says Mr Ebenezer Omejalile, the Coordinator and Head Rescue and Referrals at Child Protection Network (CPN), Oshodi-Isolo.
Ebenezer Omejalile….Coordinator and Head Rescue and Referrals at Child Protection Network (CPN)
He said; “The long term effect of physical or sexual abuse of a child will result in the distorted growth of the child in question whereby a child who is supposed to be age 16 will be looking like a nine-year-old child. It also affects the child academically as such a child will not do well in school and he/she will be withdrawn from social activities. In terms of trust, such children who have been abused tend to lack trust in anyone especially with the opposite sex. And if such kids do not get the necessary intervention such as proper psycho-social support like counselling, love, tender care and the process of trying to integrate them back to the society, they tend to be promiscuous.” Mr Omejalile noted that most abused children find it hard to talk about their experience because they are usually threatened not to reveal anything by their abuser while most parents in the know would rather sweep the issue under the carpet or talk about it in hushed tones.
He also added that most adults who abuse or molest kids were likely abused or molested when they were kids too.
“Yes. In psychology, there is what we call abnormal preference where abusers target children, just like they were abused when they were kids too by their uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbours or even biological parents.”
When asked what could be done to reduce the global occurrence of child abuse Dr A.T. Ayinde of the Psychology Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said that there was need for value re-orientation, improved welfare to address burning socio-economic problems
Dr A.T. Ayinde (PhD) of the Psychology Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
He said trauma-focused therapy like systematic desensitisation, conditioning and application of reinforcement in learning principles are recommended for children and adolescents to overcome trauma-related experiences.
Dr Ayinde added that the long term outcomes of child abuse/molestation could be and is not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The immediate outcomes from children exposed to trauma and violence could be an expression of fear, which in turn will make them develop phobia. They also become anxious or develop an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness, especially when they perceive the presence of object of intimidation. In addition, there is this uncanny maladaptive behaviour of uneasiness and inability to concentrate on a particular activity and so on.
“In the long run, children will become timid when they grow into adults with this background. Inferiority complex will set in and when they sense this, a few of them might take up gangster behaviour as defence mechanisms to compensate for their feeling of inferiority. Whereas, a few of them may grow up in learning helplessness , that is, to develop idea of feeling helpless to engage in some productive behaviour that can bring out their real worth, but rather accepting their condition and live with low self-esteem throughout their lives”.
However, the scholar also informed that there might not be a direct relationship between childhood abuse and adverse adult health outcomes. “There might not be direct relationship, but indirectly, their psyche may have been affected and this may make such victims indulge in many health risk behaviour, smoking, drinking excessively, and loss of appetite due to feeling of depression which might later constitute health problems in the nearest future,” he added.
Need to end the scourge
In the near future, it is hoped that the number of children facing torture or any form of violence declines as it is said that a nation which cannot protect her children is endangered and that the country may be wittingly or unwittingly be destroying the most valuable human resource base that would define and sustain her future.
***This investigative project by Ripples Nigeria was conducted in partnership with the Ripples Centre for Data and Investigative Journalism.