THE ROLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND PUBLIC COMPLAINT COMMISSION: A STUDY OF CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA

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THE ROLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND PUBLIC COMPLAINT COMMISSION: A STUDY OF CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA

CHAPTER ONE

1.1       BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The Collins concise dictionary defines juvenile as pertaining to the young or immature of youth or childhood. This comprises the child and the adolescent. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a child falls within the age group of 0 – 19 years. Some countries further include any one less than or up to 21 years. The Nigerian labour act defines a child as those who are 16 years of age and below but the International Labour Organization (ILO) has brought it down to individuals below 15years of age.

Child abuse can be defined as ‘an intentional or neglectful physical or emotional injury imposed on a child, including sexual molestation.’ (Garner 1999:10) Child abuse violates the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child.

Child abuse can be seen as situation whereby the fundamental human right of a child is tempered with. That is, the child is not given adequate care and protection as it’s the responsibility of every parent to take good care of their children. This rights are right to education, religion, freedom, movement, shelter etc. The child on most occasion is exposed to unnecessary hardship and odds in life.

Although child abuse occurs in Nigeria, it has received little attention. This is probably due to the emphasis placed on the more prevalent childhood problems of malnutrition and infection. Another possible reason is the general assumption that in every African society the extended family system always provides love, care and protection to all children. Yet there are traditional child rearing practices which adversely affect some children, such as purposeful neglect or abandonment of severely handicapped children, and twins or triplets in some rural areas. With the alteration of society by rapid socioeconomic and political changes, various forms of child abuse have been identified, particularly in the urban areas. These may be considered the outcome of abnormal interactions of the child, parents/ guardians and society. They include abandonment of normal infants by unmarried or very poor mothers in cities, increased child labour and exploitation of children from rural areas in urban elite families, and abuse of children in urban nuclear families by child-minders . Preventive measures include provision of infrastructural facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas in order to prevent drift of the young population to the cities. This would sustain the supportive role of the extended family system which is rapidly being eroded. There is need for more effective legal protection for the handicapped child, and greater awareness of the existence of child abuse in the community by health and social workers.

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THE ROLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND PUBLIC COMPLAINT COMMISSION: A STUDY OF CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA

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