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PREVALENCE OF CHILD ABUSE AMONG PUPILS IN ALMAJIRI SYSTEM OF EDUCATION
Background to the Study
Recently, there has been serious concern about the child with the realization that children play important part in the family and the society (Gaudin, 2013).It is generally agreed that children are the future generation, the leaders of tomorrow and the potential flag bearers of any nation (Mfonobong, 2013). There is need to help the child develop well to assume these responsibilities. This entails recognizing and respecting the right of the child and these right must be protected and not to be trampled upon or denied (Gelles, 2009).
In recognition of the socio-cultural and educational dimension of the child, the United Nations, Europeans Union, African Union, the United Nation International Children Funds (UNICEF) and African Network for Prevention Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) (2013), have joined effort in advocating for protection of the right and well-being of children. Among other provisions, UNICEF and the National Policy on Children, grant children the following rights: protection against indecent and inhuman treatment like abuse and neglect, provision of a conducive environment to promote early stimulation to learning for the children, entitlement of every child to receive compulsory basic education and equal opportunity for higher education, promotion and encouragement of child friendly principles in relevant institutions (Mfonobong,2010). The neglect of these rights constitutes child abuse.
ANPPCAN defined child abuse as the international, unintended or well intentional act which endangers the physical health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of children (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2008). Child abuse can also be seen as any act of omission, physical or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child by its parents, guardians, caregivers or other adults that may endanger the child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development (Mfonobong, 2013).In this definition, maltreating a child or selfishly making an unfair use of a child’s services by adults responsible for the child constitutes child abuse (Khatri, 2013). Thus, the adult may not be directly related to the child but a person in whose care of the child is left can be an abuser. This may include the educators, health care workers, day care workers or other responsible adults.
There are different ways a child can be abused, and the World Health Organization (2002) identified this as physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and neglect. Physical abuse of a child is defined as those acts of commission by a care giver that cause actual physical harm or have the potential for harm. Sexual child abuse is defined as those acts where a care giver use a child for sexual gratification while emotional abuse include the failure of a care giver to provide an appropriate and supportive environment and includes acts that have an adverse effect on the emotional health and development of a child (Manoochecle, Hosseinkhani & Aflarouni, 2013 ). Child neglect is the failure of the child’s care taker to provide adequate care for the child such as adequate food, shelter, season-appropriate clothing, medical and mental health care (Florence, 2012).
These abuses can occur in child’s home, in organization, communities and schools (Guardin, 2013) especially unsupervised schools like Almajiri system of education (Muhammad,2010). Almajiri system of education is a semi-formal non-secular educational system in which children between the ages of four to eighteen(4-18) years are assigned by their parentto wandering Islamic teachers usually referred to as Mallam, to learn the Qur’an and also acquire some form of Islamic knowledge (Yushau, Tsafe, Babangida & Lawal, 2013). According to Clara and Ejembi (2005), the focus of this system of education is teaching islam and Arabic. Arabic is the language of the quran and therefore has a great spiritual value and is also the language of instruction of the pupils in the system of education. Pupils undergoing education in this system of education are referred to as” Almajirai”and are usually male. The main aim of almajiri system of education is to enable one to live a life of good Muslims, benefit himself and the society (Sule,2013) .
National Child Abuse and Neglect data system in U.S.A (2010) in its report of prevalence of child abuse indicates that neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse constituted 60,20,10 and 7 percent respectively of confirmed cases.The Annual Child Abuse Report (2013)also indicated that 26,944 students where abused annually, in Nigeria. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF, 2007), reported that about 58% of children in basic education experienced physical child abuse, 50% experienced psychological while 40% experienced sexual child abuse. The United Nations Children fund (UNICEF) also estimated that 3,500 children die annually from child abuse occurring in developed nations. Death rates range from 0.1 per 100,000 in Spain to 2.3,3.0 and 3.7 per 100,000 in U.S.A, Mexico and Portugal, respectively (Manooche, Hossankhan & Aflatouin, 2013).
There is not any single factor that causes child abuse; the Department of Human Services (2015) stated that child abuse usually occurs in families where there is a combination of risk factors. Child abuse and neglect occur most often in families who are under pressure and lack support and in families which some or all of the following apply: poverty, lack of education, serious marital problems, violence between family members, lack of support from the extended family, loneliness and social isolation, unemployment as well as inadequate housing. In some cases, certain community attitudes may encourage child abuse and these include: acceptance of the use of violence and force physical punishment of children and equality between men and women.
The impact of child abuse cannot be over emphasized. In addition to negatively affecting the child, Child abuse and neglect impacts the family, schools, community, and future generations (Bonomi, Cannon, Anderson & Rivera, 2008).In majority of the school age children, the impacts of child abuse are temporary physical injuries for physical child abuse such as bruises and broken bones, heals .The more damaging and lasting impact are impaired brain development, language, physical as well as cognitive development (Child Welfare Gateway, 2008). Consequently, the abused child is at greater risk of academic problems and school failure .The children are also at risk of social and emotional problems, poor peer relationships, substance use and dependency, risky behavior and also juvenile delinquency. Green- Field ( 2010),further stated that, this is especially true for children who experienced early and ongoing abuse and neglect.
According to Lutzker,(2012) the psychological consequences of child abuse and neglect include: isolation, fear, and inability to trust.When children cannot trust that someone will be there to meet their needs, they tend to develop low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and hopelessness (Larkin, 2009). These difficulties can lead to life-long relationship problems and may also lead to development of anti- social behavioural trait, violent behavior and personality disorders(Larkin,2009).Neglected children are also more likely than other children to suffer from a serious injury from accident such as falling, drowning, fire, or ingesting poison. They are moreover, at a greater risk of being physically and sexually abused from an unrelated caretaker. The neglected children also find it difficult to abide by rules, being respected, staying in their seats, they have temper tantrums and difficulty in forming relationships (Sylvester & Merete, 2010). As the children become older they are more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior such as stealing, truancy, smoking alcohol and substance abuse (Dong, 2009).
In addition the direct impact to the community includes the costs of responding to the report of child abuse and neglect and providing services to families involved in the child welfare system (Chiabu, 2007). Chiabu further stated that Indirect costs to community include: increased expenditure to the educational system for social educational services, increased juvenile and adult crime.
Finally, the most important impact of child abuse and neglect is the long term impact to the family were the abused child grew up without learning effective parenting skills. As adult, the victim of childhood abuse can feel hopeless and often depressed; they may be engaged in substance abuse, therefore, they may not meet the needs of their children. This unfortunate repetition impacts future generations, our community and society as a whole (Twardosz & Luetzker, 2010). Thus, this necessitates the need to study the prevalence of child abuse especially in places like the north that own unsupervised schools like the Almajiri system of education: hence, the study of the prevalence of child abuse among pupils in Almajiri system of education in Zaria local government, Kaduna state, Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem
A healthy childhood is the cornerstone of any dynamic and healthy nation (Ziaer, Abed & Arbaban, 2010). Arguably, child abuse is one of the most common phenomena which influences physical and psychological health of the child and could have for reaching social and individual consequences like physical injuries, antisocial behavioural change, depression, drug abuse etc. Most of the child abuses occur in schools, home or community where the child lives (Guardin, 2013). It is reported by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF,2007), that about 85% of children in basic education experienced physical abuse, 50% experienced psychological abuse and 40% experienced sexual abuse. It is also reported by Thompson (2013), that, about 15000 children are abused annually in Nigeria.
In Almajiri schools for example, it has been reported that one teacher can register up to a hundred pupils who he singularly keeps, guides, controls, feeds and accommodates (Muhammad, 2010). Yusha’u, Tsafe, Babangida and Lawal (2013) observed that, the children in Almajiri system of education study in an unfriendly environment, most of the pupils study outside the Mosque or in a small room which predispose them to communicable diseases. Muhammad (2010) explains that the teachers fail to provide adequate supervision for the safety and hygiene of their school children.
Imparting knowledge in this type of schools is on voluntary basis, with an intention to seek Gods reward in this world and hereafter. Therefore, this has some negative effects on pupils because, the teachers may not concentrate fully on the teaching process because, they are engaged in other business like trading, farming e.t.c, so as to get their means of survival and that of their families since there is no any form of remuneration, (Lawal, 2013). The children are therefore left unattended, playing and roaming about the street, in this process, may get injured. The Almagirai migrates from their homes without adequate provision for feeding, clothing and essential human needs(Lawal,2013).Clara and Ejembi (2005) discovered that, most of the children in Almajiri system of education usually bath only once a week due to inability of the teachers to provide soap and water for them. From the researcher’s observations, most of the pupil are engaged in street hawking, child labour and lack proper clothing for the weather.
The questions to be asked therefore are: what kind of child abuses and neglect occur in Almajiri system of education? Considering the increased number , which is estimated as 10million in Nigeria with Kaduna state having 824, 233 and Zaria Local Government with highest number (Muhammed, 2010), what is the prevalence of child abuse in the Almajiri system of education? In answering these questions, the researcher therefore, wants to empirically assess child abuse in Almajiri system of education, thus, the topic: Prevalence of child abuse among pupils in Almajiri system of education in Zaria Local Government, Kaduna State.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to assess the prevalence of child abuse among pupils in Almajiri system of education in Zaria Local Government.
Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of the study are to:
- Determine the prevalence of physical child abuse in Almajiri system of education
- Determine the prevalence of sexual abuse in Almajiri system of education
- Determine the prevalence of psychological child abuse in Almajiri system of education
- Assess the prevalence of child neglect in Almajiri system of education
- What is the prevalence of physical child abuses that exist in Almajiri system of education?
- What is the prevalence of sexual child abuse present in Almajiri system of education?
- What is the prevalence of psychological child abuse in Almajiri system of Education?
- What is the prevalence of child neglects in Almajiri system of education?
- There is no significant association between the children’s age and the prevalence of child abuse in Almajiri system of education.
- There is no significant association between the level of education of the children and the prevalence of child abuse in Almajiri system of education.
Significance of the Study
This research is significant because it will provide information on the prevalence of child abuse in Almajiri system of education. The information and suggestions from the research could be of importance to the Mallams, students, parents and the general public, through proper education to them, on what constitutes child abuse and neglect, it effects, prevention and consequences. More so, information obtained from the study will be of great asset to policy makers in education and government to design appropriate child survival strategies and include the issues of Almajiri system of education in their policy agenda. There could also be periodic supervision and review of the achievements of the goals of the Almajiri system of education.
Furthermore, health workers could be posted to communities where there is predominantly Almajiris or to visit children in Almajiri system of education if found necessary where direct and proper health care will be given to the children including proper monitoring of child abuse and reporting to the appropriate authorities as is obtainable in the western developed countries.
Finally, information gathered in this study will serve as a source of literature and guide for future researchers as well as empirical references for future studies.
Scope of the Study
This study is delimited to children in Almajiri system of education in Zaria Local Government, Kaduna State. This study is specifically delimited to assessing the prevalence of the physical, sexual, psychological child abuse and neglect in Almajiri system of education and if there is any difference in the prevalence of these abuses based on the demographic characteristics of the children.
Operational Definition of Terms
- Child abuse: It is any act of omission or commission, physical or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child by its parents, guardians, caregivers or other adult that may endanger the child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development of the child. It includes: physical, psychological, sexual abuse, and child neglect.
- Physical child abuse: It is defined as those acts of commission by a care giver that cause actual physical harm or have the potential for harm. For example, beating the child with a cane or stick which could cause scratches, bruises on the skin of the child or fracture of the bones of the child.
- Psychological child abuse: It includes the failure of the teacher to provide appropriate and supportive environment for the child and includes: harsh criticism, coarse and lack of attention by the teachers that could Cause adverse effect on the emotional health and development of the child ,such as harsh criticism, coarse, rude attitude in attention.
- Child neglect:It is the failure of the teacher in Almajiri schools to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervising for the child.etc.
- Prevalence of child abuse: It means the number, occurrence of child abuse or the rate at which children are abused physically, psychologically, sexually or neglected in Almajiri system of education.
- Child Sexual Abuse: is a form of child abuse in which an adult or adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Such as indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child etc.
- Almajiri system of education: It is an aspect of northern Nigeria Islamic educational system in which children between the ages of four and eighteen are assigned to learn Islamic education under the care of mallams. It is a system of educating Muslims to confirm to Islamic norms and values.
- Demographic characteristics to be used in this study are the age and year of education of the children.
- Pupil: pupil is a male child between the ages of 8-16years studying in a non-formal school known as Almajiri school, mostly in northern Nigeria.