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Child abuse

Child safety is a critical issue that affects the development and well-being of children globally. Child abuse is one of the most significant threats to child safety, and it continues to be prevalent in many parts of the world.

According to the World Health Organisation, violence against children includes all forms of violence against people under 18 years old. This report focuses on cases, statistics, causes, and possible solutions to the problem of child abuse.

In January 2023, a mother and her partner were charged with four counts related to the unlawful treatment of a child, unlawful infliction of injuries on a minor, unlawful assault of a child, and felony to cause harm.

The Lagos State government accused them of physically assaulting her biological children relentlessly in the Egbeda area of the state. The boys presented scars and physical injuries that spoke volumes of what they have been through.

On February 21, 2023, four women were caught in Rivers State for kidnapping and trafficking a four-year-old boy to Aba, Abia State. In the same state, another suspect was nabbed for trafficking a 15-year-old girl, Favour, to Lagos for prostitution after she had earlier trafficked two 16-year-old girls. In Ebonyi State, a professor of Geophysics allegedly sexually abused his 13-year-old guardian consistently.

In December 2021, a sick three-year-old girl was flogged to death by her father in Aladja community, in the Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. Another case was that of a pre-nursery pupil who was flogged by a teacher, Emeka Nwogbo, and later died from the resulting injuries in Asaba, Delta State.

UNICEF provides alarming statistics on violence against children worldwide. Approximately, one in four children under the age of five, about 176 million, live with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence. About 10 percent of the world’s children are not legally protected from corporal punishment, and over one in three students aged 13 to 15 years experience bullying worldwide.

Among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19, approximately 15 million experienced forced s*x in their lifetime. Roughly, three in four children between the ages of two and four, around 300 million, are regularly subjected to violent discipline by their caregivers.

Child abuse

Several factors contribute to child abuse. Poverty is one significant factor that exposes children to abuse as parents struggle to provide basic needs for their families. In some cases, substance abuse by parents or caregivers can lead to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can also increase the risk of child abuse.

Additionally, cultural beliefs and practices can contribute to child abuse. In some societies, there is a prevailing belief that physical punishment is an effective way of disciplining children. Such beliefs can encourage parents or caregivers to use violent methods to discipline children.

Preventing and responding to violence against children requires addressing risk and protective factors at all four interrelated levels of risk – individual, relationship, community, and society. At the individual level, education and awareness programs can help parents and caregivers understand the impact of violence on children and provide alternative strategies for managing their behavior.

At the relationship level, interventions aimed at improving parents’ and caregivers’ relationships with children can reduce the risk of child abuse. This can involve training parents in positive parenting techniques, providing support for parents with mental health issues, and addressing domestic violence.

At the community level, initiatives such as community-based child protection committees can help raise awareness of child abuse and provide a forum for reporting incidents. Schools can also play an essential role in preventing child abuse by teaching children about their rights and promoting positive behaviors among students.

At the societal level, governments can enact laws that protect children from abuse and ensure that perpetrators face appropriate sanctions. Collective efforts are needed to address the issue of child abuse, including community mobilization, advocacy, and partnerships with civil society organizations.

The problem of child abuse is a significant threat to child safety globally. Several factors contribute to this problem, including poverty, substance abuse, mental health issues, cultural beliefs, and practices. Preventing and responding to violence against children requires addressing risk and protective factors at all four interrelated levels of risk. Governments, civil society organizations, and communities must work together to prevent and respond effectively to the issue of child abuse.

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