The Incidence of Child Abuse in the Contemporary Society: A Fact or Farce?

Article excerpt

The study investigated the incidence of child abuse in the contemporary society. It examined the dimension of the incidence whether it is a fact or a farce. 300 participants, from school of Nursing, Midwifery and Medical Laboratory of Bishop Shanahan Hospital Nsukka. 285 females and 15 males freely participated. Age range was (20-26) years with a mean age of 23 years. An instrument called Incidence of child Abuse Inventory (ICAI) developed and validated by the researcher was used. The scale has three dimensions, physical, mental and moral dimensions. Results showed that there was significant influence of physical dimension on child abuse. F(1, 293)= 207.73 P<.001, mental dimension was significant. F (1,293)= 55.45 P<.001 moral dimension was significant 7(1,293) = 209.94. P<.001. In the interaction effect physical x mental dimension was significant = F (1,293) = 21.41 P<.002. Physical x moral dimension was significant = F (1,293) = 14.52 P<.002. Physical x mental x moral dimension was significant F (2,293) = 10.61 P<.04. The findings affirm that the incidence of child abuse is a fact and not a farce and many factors are sustaining it. It recommended that adult human beings should eschew all forms of behaviour that militate against the child's well being and survival.


Over the years it is held that human development is greatly influenced by forces outside the individual. Havighurst (1973; Santrock 1995; Berger and Thompson 1998; Gordon and Debus; 2 002) observed that physical surroundings and social interactions provide incentives, opportunities and pathways for growth. Life experiences in childhood are known to inform the individual's total personality development and adjustment in later life. The developing individual is introduced to life's pathway and values through socialization by adult members of the society. Child abuse comes into play when the individual child is not allowed to know what he or she should know at that period of development. For instance when the rules, values and customs that enhance the pathway for growth are not communicated to the developing individual.

In Africa, the education of the child is of two dimensions, informal and formal education. Formal education begins by the age of five years, at the same period the child is given informal education in the values of the society by introducing the child into the ways of life of the people. The African culture places many expectations on the individual right from childhood. Children are exposed to so many risks in order to prepare them for the enormous challenges they are bound to face in later life. For example in Nigeria, most tribes initiates their children to various tasks, values and ways of life, which may not commensurate to their chronological ages, like farming, pot making, or art and crafts at the age of five. Even though the child could not do the work meant for adults, the child is put in the line of thought and behaviour expected of the gender in the tribe. The girl child is taught how to do domestic works at home. The boy child is taught how to take care of domestics animals like taking the sheep or goat out for grazing.

In this stage of growth and development, it could be adduced that the child is conditioned to mental or cognitive learning. Before the individual reaches teenage, he or she is already used to the way of thinking, reasoning, interpreting and evaluating the ways of life of the group (Nwoke, 2004). So, if the parents or adults in such cultures failed to inculcate the right values, or ways of life, the child should know at this period, through informal education, that child is abused and neglected.

There are divergent definitions as to who is a child. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Limited Nations Population Division refer of children as those below 18 years of age, the 1989 policy on the rights of the child in Oloko (1994) sates that a child means every human being below the age of 18years. …