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1.1 Background to the Study

The family is the child’s first place of contact with the world. The child as a result, acquires initial education and socialization from parents and other significant persons in the family. Bandura (1989) pointed out that the family lays the psychological, moral, and spiritual foundation in the overall development of the child. Structurally, family/home is either broken or intact. A broken home which results from family conflict in this contexts is one that is not structurally intact, as a result of divorce, separation, death of one of parent and illegitimacy. According to Emery (2004), psychological home conditions arise mainly from illegitimacy of children, the label of adopted child, broken homes, divorce and parental deprivation. Such abnormal conditions of the home, are likely to have a detrimental effect on school performance of the child, he asserts.

According to Tilman (2007), studies carried out have shown that when one form of violence was found in the family, other forms were more likely to also occur and that violence in the family has a direct relationship to community violence and other forms of aggression and gender based violence. Law enforcement in many

countries will not intervene in what is often called a “domestic quarrel” even though psychological research indicates that without such intervention, abusers are unlikely to seek help to stop their battering behaviour. Research has found a strong relationship between violence in the home and violence in the community. Golden (2000) reports that it has been found that prior history of abuse can increase the likelihood of abusive behaviour. According to Steinberg (1996), parental conflict and aggression or a conflict atmosphere in the home is related to offspring’s personal or violent crimes.

Johnson (2005) asserts that children of unmarried parents /separated families often fail and are at risk emotionally. However, this may not be completely applicable in all cases of family conflict. Some children irrespective of home background or structure may work hard and become successful in life. Moreover, Ayodele (2007) stated that the environment where a child finds himself/herself goes a long way in determining his learning ability and ultimately his academic performance in school.

On the other hand, Kiura (1999) asserts that a healthy relationship between husband and wife depends on self understanding, understanding spouse, balance between individuality, mutual relationship, proper management of conflicts, sexual harmony and sound skills in mutual dialogue and communication. He also says that parents need to assume responsibility for their children’s eternal destiny, educate them, prepare them for life and guide them towards the right way. If parents are not in harmony, it follows that their children will suffer too. They not only suffer at home but also when they go to school or visit friends by carrying the burden of their parents with them.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There is a global awareness of the importance of the home environment on students’ academic performance. In Nigeria, most home are not intact as a result of issues of incompatibility of the couples, death of a parent and the quest for the oversea trips to make more money, and at times marital infidelity. This has resulted in the rapid misunderstanding between couples and children. In some states in the federation, this is quite clear, that most young ladies abandon their homes, and embark on oversea trips with a view to make money. Some men, who travel abroad, abandon their homes and would not communicate with the families back-home so children from such homes are in dilemma, especially in terms of adjustment. Chador (2008) notes that the environment in which the students come from can greatly influence his performance in school. The effects of family conflict may impact greatly on the academic achievement.

There is also the case of street children, some of whom are on the streets because they have run away from violent home environments. These incidents take place not only in rural areas but also in urban ones. Their lives are enclosed or imprisoned if they continue being exposed to a violent environment. For some, such an environment means that they have no access to formal education and their cognitive and affective developments are tampered with. This study, therefore, sought to find out the impact of family conflicts on a pupil especially on his or her academic performance.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study was to examine the impact of family conflicts on the academic performance of Undergraduate in Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori.

In specific terms therefore, the study was to:

Determine the extent to which conflicts in a family affect students’ academic performance.
Establish the nature of the relationship between students who experience family conflicts and their peers.
Establish whether it is the male or female undergraduate who are more affected by family conflicts.
Establish the nature of the relationship between undergraduate who experience family conflicts and their teachers.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Students and teachers, government, parents, authors, and publishers of education textbooks are expected to benefit from the findings of this study. Students are going to benefit from the study because they will discover that family conflict has some effect on their academic performance. This study will benefit the teachers in that it will move them to be conscious of how to interact with students that are facing conflict in their homes. The school management board will also benefit from this study since it will help them to understand the causes of failure students from broken homes and as such proffer unending solution to such problem. The authors of textbooks at all level of learning are not left out among the beneficiaries. This study will enable them to realize the effect of conflict especially family conflict on the students’ academic performance.

1.5 Research Questions

The following research questions guided the development and achievement of the aims and objectives of this research:

To what extent could conflicts in a family affect students’ academic performance?
What is the nature of the relationship between students who experience family conflicts and their peers?
Between the male and female undergraduates in Ken-Poly, which is more affected by family conflict than the other?
Are there any cordial relationship between undergraduate who experience family conflicts and their lecturers?

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses guided the conduct of this research:

HO1: There is no significant relationship between conflicts in a family and students’ academic performance.

HO2: There is no significant relationship between family conflict and students’ relationship with their peers.

HO3: There is no significant relationship between family conflict and students’ gender (sex).

HO4: There is no significant relationship between family conflict and students relationship with their lecturers.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study

The study is delimited to the following heading: content scope, geographical scope and unit of analysis.

Content Scope: The content scope of this study involves an investigation to ascertain the relationship between family conflict and students academic performance.
Geographical Scope: This study is delimited in Khana Local Government Area with special reference to Undergraduate of Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, Rivers State.
Unit of Analysis: The unit of analysis in this research involves the individuals at the time of carrying out the study. It is the data that are retrieved from the individual in the above geographical location that will be used to analyse the study.

1.8 Definition of Terms:

The definition of the following terms is in the context of this study:

Family: It is a social unit made up of people related to each other by blood, birth or marriage. In this study, family is a social unit made up of undergraduate’s students and their parents (mother and father).

Family Conflict: In this study, family violence refers to problems, oppositions or differences that undergraduates of Ken-Poly face within their families.

Family Violence: Physical force that is intended to hurt or kill within the family set up. It is characterized by serious physical injury, profound psychological trauma or sexual violation. In this study, family violence means physical or psychological injury that undergraduate experience within their families.

Academic Performance: This is how undergraduate are ranked in terms of educational achievement. In this study, academic performance means how the undergraduate fair on in their studies as compared to others in the same class.

Child Abuse: The act of harming a pupil in a physical, sexual or emotional way. In this study, child abuse refers to any harm that undergraduate in public primary schools undergo, be it physical, sexual or emotional.

Conflict: It is a mutual opposition or difference between two parents or between parents and their undergraduate in a family. It is a state of disagreement or argument in a family. In this study, conflict means the disagreements or oppositions that pupil under study face in their families, either directly from their parents or indirectly when they witness their parents’ arguments.

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