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INFLUENCE OF CHILD ABUSE ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
Child abuse is not a new phenomenon in the history of man. It has been going on right from time immemorial. In Africa/Nigerian society what constitute abuse today has never been regarded as abuse. It has been seen as a way of training the child to become a well behaved, disciplined and self actualized person in society. It is a normal process that children from birth be exposed to a variety of experiences from parents, caregivers and other adults in the society. This is to enable the children acquire the necessary basic norms and skills for effective participation in the society where they belong and for their personal growth and development.
The process of acquiring these skills is sometimes stressful for the children to bear. Some parents and care givers make the condition for acquiring these skills so difficult that the children may find it difficult to cope. The condition in which children are exposed to as they try to acquire the skills to become disciplined and hardworking individuals is where the problems lie. When these conditions become over-stretched it becomes an abuse. For instance, when a child is taught the skills of becoming a farmer, he is taken to the farm, he practice these skills and he is kept in the farm doing that same work from dawn to dusk, without any rest, or having a good meal, this becomes an abuse (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi and Ndifon, 2010). Also it may be normal if a child is asked to hawk from morning to evening or before going to school he sales and immediately after school he continues until dusk. This becomes an abuse. Orere-Clifferd (2011) states that children suffer from child abuse because their parents and guardian demand a great deal from them for more than the children would bear. Most children in our public primary schools find themselves in such situation most often.
Child abuse is found in all societies and social class. It is found in the rich or poor home, as well as illiterate or literate homes. The parents abuse their children by frequently using them in their farm work, trade and businesses. This is to help support the income of the home and sometimes to provide for children needs. They are sometime asked by their parents to do some menial jobs such as house helps, cooks, baby sitters, and gardeners to help improve the income of the home (Apebende, Umoren, Ukpepi and Ndifon, 2010).
The rich on the other hand have enough to care for their children but they exploit the children they employ as house helps and cooks. This they do by over working the servants in the daily house chores, while their own children are over pampered.
The servants or house helps work 24 hours a day, without any rest. Others do not have good food, clothes and sometimes no good place to lay their heads. Some are treated like animals, they are beaten, kicked pushed, and sometimes, hot oil, water and even acid is used on them. (Falaye, 2013).
Many more, caregivers called abusive names such as; good for nothing, block head, etc. sometimes some are tired hands and feet and locked in a room, for hours and even days. These actions demoralize the child (Falaye, 2013).
Those who go to school may not be attentive in class because of the work they do at home. The classroom may be the only place where they have a rest from such home activities so they may fall asleep in the class. They may therefore not partake in classroom activities and so may not acquire any learning (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.
Other aspects of child abuse may include child exploitation, slavery, trafficking and abandonment. The different forms of abuse affect the child in all spheres of life including academic attainment.
Conversely, a child is said to be abused when the parents, care givers or any human action leads to physical, emotional and sexual abuse of the child. It also involves failure of the parents to provide the necessary love and care for the child.
It has been observed of late that the academic performance of children in public primary schools in the State, particularly, in Kwande Local government Area is becoming low. One wonders if such low academic performance is as a result of the maltreatment children are exposed to. The study therefore seeks to find out if child abuse has any effect on the academic performance of primary school students. Specially, the big question is; does physical, emotional and sexual abuse affects the academic performance of primary school students?
The major objective of the study is to determine the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of primary school students in Kwande Local Government of Benue State, specifically, the academic performance of students who are physically, emotionally and sexually abused.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
A large chunk of literature lexicon claim that students’ academic achievement are predictablely based on students’ school and home factors, in this way little attention is given to other factors such as personality traits factors, psychological and sociological factors. Calls to mind, several studies conducted by psychologists and educationists have shown that personality traits factors play a key role in influencing student’s academic performance (Rosander, Bäckström, Stenberg, 2011; Conrad, and Party, 2012).
Majority of the studies on the correlates between personality traits and students’ academic performance were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly were conducted in the developed countries. Research on personality traits and students’ academic performance are currently very few in Nigeria. Moreover, most of the studies conducted in the home font by Adeyemi and Adeyemi (2014), Eyong, David and Umoh (2014), Amadi, Ogadimma and Tunde (2015) and Litvinova, Balarabe and Mohammed (2015) were largely theoretical in approach whose conclusion were subjectively influenced by the researchers’ assumption. Hence, it is noted that the past studies did not give adequate empirical attention to the correlates between personality traits and students’ academic performance in Nigeria
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 primary schools in the State, particularly, in Kwande 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 and personality traits on academic performance of primary school students in Kwande Local Government.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to investigate the effect of child abuse and personality traits on academic performance of primary school student in kwande Local Government Area.
Specifically, the study seeks to investigate;
- The effect of child abuse and personality traits on primary school students’ assessments grades and academic performance.
- The effect of child abuse and personality traits on primary 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;
- What is the extent of the effect of child abuse and personality traits on primary school students’ assessments grades and academic performance?
- What is the extent of the effect of child abuse and personality traits on primary 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’ assessments grades and academic performance.
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 Benue 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 is intended to cover all the 195 public primary schools in Kwande Local Government Area. However, due to time and financial limitations the study is limited to 20 selected public primary schools. The researcher deems it appropriate to select these primary schools because all the state owned primary schools are attended by almost children of the same social class and a bound the face the same social and life challenges. Also, the calibers of teachers that teach in such schools are mostly of same social orientation. More so, the researcher targets to cover 10% of the total number of public primary schools in the Local Government.
The study is also limited to the issue of child abuse and academic performance of primary 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
The following words and phrases are been defined or given explanations as used in this work. Thus, they are put to the scale of contextual meaning. However, the researcher strives as much as possible not to deviate totally from their conceptual meanings.
A child is any person under the age of 18 years.
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. It also involves failure of the parents to provide the necessary love and care for the child.
Generally, child physical abuse refers to the non-accidental use of physical force against a child that can or results in harm to the child. A parent does not have to intend to physically harm his child to have physically abused on him (e.g., shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking biting, burning, strangling and poisoning, physical punishment that results in bruising would generally be considered physical abuse). Depending on the age and the nature of the behaviour, physical force that is likely to cause physical harm to the child may also be considered abusive (e.g., a situation in which a baby is shaken but not injured would still be considered physically abusive).
Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with a child’s positive development, psyche and self-concept. It 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. Actions that can constitute an emotional abuse may include 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.
A child sexual abuse is the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child/adolescent. Thus; any act which exposes a child to, or involves a child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards. Sexually abusive behaviours can include the fondling of genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object, fondling of breasts, voyeurism and exhibitionism, and exposing the child to or involving the child in pornography.
Spiritual abuse is characterized by religious mind control or thought reforms; satanic or sadistic ritual abuse of a child through an organized, secret manipulations, often multi-generational group who engage in mutilation, ritual killing, cannibalism, drinking of blood, systematic torture to change or program a child’s mentality, etc.
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.
Physical Child Neglect:
Physical child neglect is characterized by the parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to provide basic physical necessities, such as safe, clean and adequate clothing, housing, food and health care.
Emotional Child Neglect:
Emotional (or psychological) child neglect is characterized by a lack of parent, guardian or caregiver warmth, nurturance, encouragement and support (note that emotional neglect is sometimes considered a form of emotional maltreatment).
Educational Child Neglect:
Educational child neglect is characterized by a parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to provide appropriate educational opportunities for the child.
Environmental Child Neglect:
Environmental child neglect is characterized by the parent, guardian or caregiver’s failure to ensure environmental safety, opportunities and resources for the child.
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. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of omission (i.e., neglect) and commission (i.e., abuse).
Academic performance is the outcome of education; the extent to which a student has achieved his/her educational goals. It may also refer to a person’s strong achievements in a given academic arena. Thus, it is sometimes called proficiency and may be quantified in several ways, such as exams and tests. In a given term or session, high academic performance may mean a student is on the honor roll.
Students’ academic performance has remained as a major issue among teachers, parents, school administrators, students and the society at large. Attempts have been made by researchers to unravel the complexities surrounding students’ academic performance. Psychologists have put forward a lot of reasons why these disparities in academic achievement exist. A lot of attention had been paid to external factors such as type of school, teaching methods, school location, instructional materials, study habits, teachers qualification and experiences, and so on.
In a bid to overcome the pains and agonies which follow poor academic performance for the students, many parents spend lots of money to secure good schools either for their children and those parents who can afford it even invest on education abroad as they believe this will enhance academic achievement.
Opinions vary as to why some students excel academically while others appear to be underachievers. Many psychologists and educationists have consistently attempted to identify the major predictors of individual academic performance. Factors such as intelligence, self concept, gender, study habit, maturation, home background, amongst others, child rearing patterns, peer group influence, socio-economic background and learning environment just to mention a few, have been extensively explored as being responsible for academic achievement, especially in secondary school students. A major factor that is believed to be responsible for academic achievement in students is their personality traits (Eyong, David and Umoh, 2014).
Traits Theorists have tried to identify the major traits that characterize personality and at length impacting on students’ academic performance. This is not unconnected to the fact that understanding the factors influencing academic performance has always been a great concern for counselling and educational psychologists. Many researchers tend to be anxious to know in advance who will perform well or not in any academic activity. Thus, identifying the factors determining academic success has remained largely a fundamental concern for the purpose of developing an education curriculum aimed at improving levels of academic performance for secondary schools in Nigeria.
Early research works have overly emphasized cognitive ability as a major determinant of academic performance (Harris, 1940; Elshout and Veenman, 1992). Even though research has proved that cognitive ability is one most important determinate of academic successes, some schools of thought still maintain that cognitive ability factors alone cannot account fully for individual differences in academic performance. On this fence, Furnham, Chamorro-Premuzic, and McDougall (2003) posited that there are other factors like personality traits, aside cognitive ability that account for the variation evident in students’ academic performance(s). The reason being that cognitive ability reflect what a student can do, whereas personality traits may reflect what a student will do in this vein, many researchers are beginning to take more keen interest on how personality traits relates to academic success.
Personality characteristics have been studied in the psychological literature for several decadesdue to their impact on several psychosocial outcomes of individuals including motivation andacademic achievement. The most widely studied personality characteristics are those in the BigFive personality model (Goldberg, 1999) and it is assumed the personality characteristics cluster around five factors, namely; Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness.
Individuals who are high on the trait conscientiousness are usually disciplined, organized, and achievement oriented whereas those who are high on extraversion are usually sociable, assertive and talkative. Individuals who are high on neuroticism tend to be emotionally unstable, anxious and impulsive whilst individuals who are high on openness tend to have preference for novelty and are also intellectually curious. Finally, individuals who are high on agreeableness tend to be sympathetic, cooperative and very helpful to other people (Komarraju, Karau, Schmeck and Avdic, 2011).
1.9 Research Hypothesis
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between extraversion personality characteristics and students’ academic performance.
Ho2: There is no significant relationship between conscientiousness personality factor and students’ academic performance.
H0: There is no significant relationship between child abuse and academic performance
H1: There is a significant relationship between child abuse and academic performance
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