INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT IN PORT HARCOURT METROPOLIS
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Child abuse has for an extended time been recorded in literature, art and science in several parts of the world, reports of infanticide, mutilation, abandonment and different forms of abuse against children date back to ancient civilizations. The Chronicle is also filled with additional reports of unkempt, weak and malnourished children force or cast out by families to fend for themselves and of children who have been sexually abused.
There is an existed charitable group and others concerned with children’s wellbeing who have advocated the protection of children over a period of time. Nevertheless, the issue of child abuse did not receive widespread attention by the general public and medical profession not until 1962, through the publication of a seminar work, the battered child syndrome, by Kempe et al. (1962).
Now, four decades later, there is clear evidence that child abuse is a global problem. It occurs in a variety of forms and is deeply rooted in cultural, economic and social practices. Solving this global problem, however, requires a much better understanding of its occurrence in a range of settings, as well as of its causes and consequences in these settings.
In 2011 approximately 5.5 million children were referred to state child protective agencies for suspected abuse or neglect (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). Child abuse appears to put children at risk for a host of negative outcomes (Cicchetti & Toth, 2011). In particular, child abuse appears to have a negative impact on the development of children’s social and emotional regulation skills (Alessandri, 2010; Shipman & Zeman, 2015).
Considerable progress has been made during the last three decades in our understanding of the socio-emotional consequences of child abuse. Developmental psychopathology, in particular, has greatly influenced our understanding of the consequences of child abuse (see Cicchetti, 2011). While a great deal is known about the socio-emotional consequences of abuse during childhood, comparably little is known about the long-term effects of abuse.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) (2014) indicated a significant rise in reported child abuse and neglect incidents in recent years. The increase presents a public problem that must be addressed through advocacy for child right protection.
A child who is a victim of abuse and neglect is bound to experience consequences including, but not limited to: immediate physical and/or emotional damage, the inability to build healthy relationships with peer groups or advanced, increased likelihood of being abused by another perpetrator or becoming an abuser and lowered self-worth.
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (2013) has defined abuse as: “A particular form of child abuse determined by investigation to be substantiated or indicated under state law.” Types include:
- physical abuse
- neglect or deprivation of necessities
- medical neglect
- sexual abuse
- psychological or emotional maltreatment
- and other forms included in state law
Good interpersonal communication skills are essential for almost every aspect of life. Being able to effectively communicate with others helps people resolve problems, establishes trust, encourages understanding and compassion and helps build relationships.
Teaching your child how to effectively communicate with others provides him with a gift that can last a lifetime. But your child needs your help in learning how to relate to others and knowing how to express his needs, wants and concerns in a socially-appropriate way.
Children and teenagers are most likely to initially disclose abuse to either a parent or same-aged friend (Priebe & Svedin, 2008; Shackel, 2009). Hearing that a child or teen has been abused is distressing, and this will be felt even more acutely if you are a friend or relative.
There is possibility that the perpetrator is known to the victim and may even be a family member. Services that are available for children can also help support family members and friends of victims and guide through the necessary steps to help the victim.
Model good interpersonal skills when you interact with others help the children to learn values and behaviors by following their parents’ example. Many studies over the past 20 years have shown that childhood abuse is related to the onset, symptom severity, and course of depression and anxiety disorders [Friis et al, 2016; Gibb et al, 2007; Kendler et al, 2014].
Various types of childhood abuse have been demonstrated to be associated with anxiety and depressive symptom severity. Thus, specific types of childhood abuse might cause specific symptoms in an individual with specific vulnerabilities.
In spite of a substantial body of literature on the relationship between childhood abuse and the various symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders, there were too few studies which investigated how childhood abuse affects on interpersonal communication. On the perspective of cognitive-behavioral theory, various types of maladaptive schematic representations of the self, world, and future are activated by matching specific life experience.
Therefore, it is crucial to investigate the impact of interpersonal communication in the fight against childhood abuse. Given the paucity of research, the present study aims to investigate the role of interpersonal communication in the fight against child and neglect. Furthermore, the present study seeks to clarify the specific interpersonal communication pattern in different types of childhood abuse and neglect in patients with depression and anxiety disorders.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
A child’s most essential protection is supposed to be secured by family and representatives of social institutions such as teachers, law enforcement officers, and other civil authorities. Yet, the most egregious violations against children come from the same sources: parents and other family members, employed caretakers, teachers, employers, law enforcement authorities, and other state actors.
Harsh penalties or sentences have been imposed upon all convicted child abusers which range from a minimum of 14 years to the maximum of life sentences. The problem is that despite these harsh sentences, more and more children continue to be reported as having been defiled. This implies that the environment in which the children are growing up is no longer safe.
This makes the children particularly, the girl-children to be living in very difficult circumstances consequently impacting negatively on their development. The other source of concern is that so many sensitization campaigns against child abuse have been conducted.
However, it appears that these are not yielding positive results as evidenced by the marked increase in the number of reported abuse cases since 2000. This may be attributed to ineffective communication strategies being used by the Department of Child Development to sensitize the general public against this vice.
It may also imply that the messages being disseminated are not effective enough and that they could be targeted at wrong persons. Victims who do not report sexual abuse, or those who report and are not believed, are at greater risk for physical, emotional, and psychological problems that can persist throughout adulthood.
Consequently, many adult victims describe child sexual abuse as a “life sentence”. All these calls for immediate intervention of all stakeholders, government, parents/guardians, teachers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious bodies. Child abuse as a social problem has disastrous effects on the developmental growth of children.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine interpersonal communication in the fight against child abuse and neglect. Other general objectives of the study are:
- To examine the various forms of child abuse and neglect in Nigeria.
- To examine the strategies that can be used to prevent child sexual abuse in Nigeria.
- To examine the effect of interpersonal communication on the fight against child abuse and neglect.
- To investigate the adverse effect of interpersonal communication to reduce harm from abuse and neglect.
- To examine the relationship between interpersonal communication and fight against child abuse and neglect.
- To examine practical measures to be adopted to alleviate the incidence of child abuse and neglect.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the various forms of child abuse and neglect in Nigeria?
- What are the strategies that can be used to prevent child sexual abuse in Nigeria?
- How is the effect of interpersonal communication on the fight against child abuse and neglect?
- What is the adverse effect of interpersonal communication to reduce harm from abuse and neglect?
- What is the relationship between interpersonal communication and fight against child abuse and neglect?
- What are the practical measures to be adopted to alleviate the incidence of child abuse and neglect?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant effect of interpersonal communication on the fight against child abuse and neglect.
H01: There is a significant effect of interpersonal communication on the fight against child abuse and neglect.
H01: There is no significant relationship between interpersonal communication and fight against child abuse and neglect
H02: There is a significant relationship between interpersonal communication and fight against child abuse and neglect.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The results of the findings would be of significant to the children, parents, community, teachers, Ministry of Education, educators and curriculum planners. The purpose of the study is to find out the causes of child abuse in Port Harcourt Metropolis.
More so, the study aim at identifying which form of child abuse is more prevalent in the state. Also, examine the level and nature of child abuse practice in Port Harcourt Metropolis. Finally, identify and analyze the steps to be taken in curbing and eliminating the incidence in the State and in the society at large.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the interpersonal communication in the fight against child abuse and neglect, case study of Port Harcourt Metropolis, Rivers state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Child: Is a human being male or female between nine years (9) of age and fourteen (14) years of age, who is in the developmental stage of childhood and is ready to start his/her fundamental basic education.
Abuse: Is the improper usage or treatment of a thing, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, assault, violation, rape, unjust practices, crimes, or other types of aggression.
Child Abuse: Is physical, sexual and/or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or a caregiver. Child abuse may include any act or failure to act by a parent or a caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child, and can occur in a child’s home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with.
Interpersonal Communication: Is an exchange of information between two or more people. It is also an area of study and research that seeks to understand how humans use verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish a number of personal and relational goals.
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