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Poverty, alcohol, leading causes of child abuse in Nigeria says Expert

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Against the backdrop of rising cases of child abuse in the country, a professor of Counselling Psychology, Covenant University, Prof. Abiodun Gesinde has indentified lack of parenting skills, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse as leading causes of the child maltreatment in Nigeria.

Gesinde made the submission recently at the institution’s 13th Inaugural lecture held at the Covenant University Chapel, Ota, Ogun State.

While delivering a lecture titled “Psychological Virus Undermining Children and Adolescents’ Development: The antiviral in Counselling Psychology”, Gesinde noted that forms of child abuse includes physical, sexual, neglect and emotional with physical abuse accounted for one out of four substantial cases worldwide.

The academic don who stated that relevant literature has demonstrated that the prevalence of all dimensions of child abuse syndrome has reach worrisome height worldwide, said in the United States of America, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse declared that in 1996, over three million children were reported for child abuse and neglect to Child Protective Service.

He said in Nigeria, despite lack of accurate statistics, report had it that all forms of abuse abound, but sexual abuse is overriding with trafficking of female children for prostitution and disregard for child rights.

However, looking at the causative factors of child abuse, Gesinde also examined the roles of cultural beliefs, economic condition, and ignorance or illiteracy on the incident of abuses.

According to him, in a study he conducted in 2007 in three senatorial districts in Oyo state, findings revealed that lack of parenting skills, poverty, alcohol or drug abuse, illiteracy, and divorce, single parenting and separation are top psycho-social factors sustaining child abuse in the country and until they are kept at bay, attempt to eradicating the menace may be a fruitless endeavour.

He said available statistics indicated that seventy seven percent of perpetrators of child abuse are parents, eleven percent other relatives, two percent caretakers and about ten percent non-caretakers.

Speaking on the psychological virus undermining children and adolescents’ development, the professor identified it as poison-like interrelationships that are detrimental to the rest of the mind. He said emotional or psychological abuse is a more dangerous form of abuse, not only because it is the least visible, but also because it has serious long-term consequence on children.

He therefore warned stakeholders to note that babies or pre-schooled children that are being emotionally abused may be overly affectionate towards strangers or lack confidence, become wary or anxious.

He added that they might also be aggressive, or nasty towards other children and animals and also not have a close relationship with their parents.

Gesinde noted that older children on the other hands might use language or act in a way unexpected, struggle to control strong emotions or lack social skills and have few, if any friends.

Stressing that the unsympathetic effects of child abuse are too detrimental to be left unresolved, Gesinde called for family counsellors who will diagnose the existence of psychological virus in families among other professional responsibilities.

He said mission schools should review the way they under-utilised counseling services in their respective institutions with a view to maximizing its overall benefits.

He also urged government and non-governmental agencies to intensify their efforts in educating the public on the dangers inherent in ignorance.

He also called for periodic training and retraining to be organised by the government and religious bodies for parents.

Geinde noted that premarital counseling intending couples should also have its focus on child rearing practices.

He said more research should be conducted on the psycho-socio-medical effects of psychological abuse by government and non-governmental agencies.

He said since teachers are potentials abusers, their training curriculum should incorporate fundamentals of psychological virus.


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Abiodun GesindeOyo State
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