1.1       Background to the Study

Child abuse is prevalent in every society, regardless of socioeconomic status. Rich or poor, educated or illiterate, it may be found in every family. The parents exploit their children by putting them to work on their farms, in their trades, and in their enterprises on a regular basis. As a way to supplement the family’s income as well as provide for their children’s basic necessities, this is often done. In order to assist their parents earn more money, they are often expected to undertake menial activities like babysitting, cooking, and gardening (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi and Ndifon, 2010).

Rich families have more money to care for their children, but they also abuse their housekeepers and chefs by paying them low wages. They do this by overburdening their staff with household tasks while lavishing lavish attention on their own children.

There is no time off for the home employees or maids. Others are deprived of enough nutrition, clothing, and a comfortable place to sleep. Some are beaten, kicked, shoved, and even subjected to hot oil, water, and acid as punishment. It is (Falaye, 2013).

The labels “good for nothing,” “block head,” and many more were hurled at caretakers. Some people have been confined to a room for hours or days on end, their hands and feet worn out. The youngster is demoralized by these activities (Falaye, 2013).

As a result of their work at home, students may not pay attention in class. It’s possible that the classroom is the only place where they can get away from their usual activities at home, making it easier for them to nod off in class. Because of this, they may not be able to participate in classroom activities and hence will not be able to gain any knowledge (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi and Ndifon, 2010).

The children of the rich parents may not be allowed to take part in the general activities in the home. They may therefore not know how to cook, wash or care generally for the home. This constitutes an abuse because the child needs to be exposed to such activities because it is certain that the child may need such knowledge in future (Falaye, 2013).

The term child abuse is seen as the process by which children are exposed to maltreatments by parents or guardian (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi and Ndifon, 2010). Axmaher (2010) defined child abuse as any mistreatment or neglect of the child that result in non-accidental harm or injury and which cannot be reasonably explained. Obekpa (2011) view child abuse as any condition injurious to physical or emotional health that has been inflicted by parents, guardian or other caretakers. Igbo and Ekoja (2013) defines it as a non-accidental injury inflicted on a child by a parent or guardian.

An abuse according to Isanghedehi (2004) could be seen in three perspectives physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. To Oniyama, Oniyama and Asamaigbo (2004), child abuse manifest in four main categories viz; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

Physical abuse refers to any contact with the body of the child, which may result in an injury. Such contact may involve beating, hitting, kicking, shaking, punching, biting or any act or omission that is not an accident but that which brings some injuries to the child’s body.

Emotional abuse is any act on the part of a parents or caregiver that has the potential for or has actually caused serious emotional cognitive, mental or behavioral disorders. Emotional abuse is evident when a parent or care giver uses abusive words such as blockhead, good for nothing, a mistake, on the child or when the child is locked up in a room, tired both hands and feet, or not allowed to make friends. Mba (2013) maintained that emotional abuse implies constantly blaming the child, belittling and or berating the child, being unconcerned about the child’s welfare and overtly rejection of the child by parents or caretakers or caregivers.

Sexual abuse occurs when a parent or care giver engages in inappropriate sexual behaviours with the child. This may take the form of actual sexual intercourse, kissing, or foundling or genitals or either the abuser or the abused. According to Uzoezie (2004) sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older person uses his or her power over a child. The abuse may trick, bribe, threaten and if possible force a child to take part in sexual activity.

Neglect according to Okpara (2001) include inadequate feeding, shelter and lack of supervision, inadequate body care, poor clothing, poor and denial of medicinal attention and inadequate provision of educational materials and supervision. Other aspects of neglect may include letting the child live in a filthy environment and non provision of proper nourishment.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

At the heart of every educational system lays the desire for the students, teachers and the institutions to achieve their educational goals; however, the extent to which this desire is achieved in the study period of a student varies based on individual differences. Individual differences in academic performance have been linked to differences in intelligence and personality. Students with higher mental ability as demonstrated by IQ tests and those who are higher in conscientiousness (linked to effort and achievement motivation) tend to perform highly in academic settings. A recent meta-analysis suggested that mental curiosity (as measured by typical intellectual engagement) has an important influence on academic performance in addition to intelligence and conscientiousness. Despite high mental abilities, conscientiousness and intellectual engagement demonstrated by most children it has been observed of late that the academic performance of children in public secondary schools in the State, particularly, in Obio/Akpor  Local Government Area is becoming low. It has also been observed that in this recent times issues of child abuse and neglect is on the rise in the local government due to economic depression caused by the global economic backdrop and incessant social/civil unrests. One wonders if such low academic performance is as a result of the abuse/maltreatment children are exposed to. This became the motivation to investigate the effect of child abuse on academic performance of secondary school students in Obio/Akpor  Local Government.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the effect of child abuse on academic performance of secondary school pupil in Obio/Akpor  Local Government Area.

Specifically, the study seeks to investigate;

  1. The effect of child abuse on secondary students’ school grade.
  2. The effect of child abuse on secondary school students’ participation in the class and academic performance.

1.4       Research Questions

In order to achieve the objectives the following questions are hereby posed;

  1. What is the extent of the effect of child abuse on secondary students’ school grade?
  2. What is the extent of the effect of child abuse on secondary school students’ participation in the class and academic performance?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

In furtherance of the objectives the following hypotheses are hereby projected;

HO 1:  Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ school grade.

HO 2:   Child abuse has no significant effect on students’ participation in the class and academic performance.

1.6       Significance of the Study

In a society where children’s academic performance in most public schools is getting lower, any study which will discover some of the causes will be very relevant. Many research studies have been carried out outside of Rivers  State on child abuse and its effect on students’ academic performance. There is need therefore for such a study to be carried out in our locality with different cultural settings. The result of this study will be an added advantage to governments stand on child’s right act and care, if it shows a significant influence. Parents, Guardians, Teachers, other caregivers and the general public will find the result of this study useful, as it will reveal to them the need for effective care and protection of their children, especially the importance of providing educational needs for a higher academic performance. The research will also be a resource of value to other researchers carrying out research on the topic or similar subject matter.



1.7       Scope of the Study

The study examines Child abuse and neglect in Obio/Akpor L.G.A Rivers state, Port Harcourt. The study is also limited to the issue of child abuse and academic performance of secondary school students since it will be too cumbersome to study all the factors that deter academic performance of school children in the area.

1.8       Definition of Terms

Child Neglect: Child neglect refers to the failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and wellbeing.

Child Abuse: Child is said to be abused when the parents, care givers or any human action leads to physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse of the child.

Child Maltreatment: Child maltreatment refers to any non-accidental behaviour by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that is outside the norms of conduct and entails a substantial risk of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person.

Academic Performance: Academic performance is the outcome of education; the extent to which a student has achieved his/her educational goals.