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1.1    Background of the Study


Education is a powerful tool which is directly linked to poverty eradication, economic growth, social well-being and transmission cultural and moral values Bornshier and Herkenrath (2005). This prepares the child for adult life in a free society. Education is linked to a range of issues like (Rasheed and UNESCO, 2000), societal stability, gender equality, healthcare and employment. This implies that all children have a right to education as stated in article number twenty eight (28) of the Convention on the right of children (UNICEF, 2003). Cultural and moral values can be transmitted via formal education that assists an individual be guided to make reasonable and informed decisions in a responsible manner and to co-exist with others in the society.

This project intended to establish how abusing children in their homes in forms of physical abuse, verbal abuse, and child neglect affected their work in school. The project also established whether there were special trained teachers in public primary schools and the teachers’ responsibility on children who are abused in their homes. Maltreatment of children has been justified for many centuries. Children over time have suffered violence and abuse since some cultures are backed in law and custom. The rationale for that violence has “made sense” within the context of that culture and has not been classified as abuse to the child (Mayhall & Norgard, 1983). Specific groups of children are more vulnerable to abuse than others. They include deformed and handicapped because some cultures regard such children as a burden and or an ill omen (UNICEF, 1986; Mukai & Kattambu 1992). Before the 17th century handicapped persons were regarded unworthy so they were killed immediately after birth. Twins were buried alive  and if by any chance there were survivors, they were mistreated and neglected. In the 18th century the vulnerable group was institutionalized for protection. However, the institutions subsequently were reduced into asylums leading to their closure (Kirk, Gallanger & Anastasia, 2003).

Roman law equips the fathers with the power of life and death over their children (Bakan, 1975; Radbill, 1974). In India, female infanticide was in the form of drowning infants in milk or water, overdosing the infants with opium or starving them to death (Korbin, 1981). Female infanticide was permitted in china, in 1873 and was rampant among Eskimos, Egyptians, Scandinavians, Polynesians, American Indians, Australian, Aborigines and Africans. According to Corbin (1981), the traditional Chinese cultural values uphold the absolute power of parents to inflict hard physical punishment on children who in turn are obliged to persevere and behave as if they are enjoying the punishment. In India, boys would be hung on both hands with a rope with feet not touching the ground as a form of punishment (Korbin, 1981).In 16th Century, Martin Luther degreed that mentally handicapped children be drowned. Martin Luther had been convinced that such children were instruments of the devil (Radbill, 1974). In classical times, Seneca, Plato and Aristotle concurred that killing of defective children was a pleasing practice (Bakan, 1975). Child abuse is taking place in Nigeria today. Evidence can partially be deduced from electronic media reports and print media. However most of cases on child abuse go unreported and those which are reported are not substantiated because the culprits are the abused own (UN, 1991). The abusers are the parents, siblings, babysitters, aunties or uncles. The abused children are warned against reporting and continue to suffer (ANPPCAN, 2001; Mwiti, 1997). The rise in the number of persons infected with HIV and AIDS and the myth that is associated with it that HIV/AIDS infected can get cured if they have sexual intercourse with virgins further weakens the security of children (AAIU, 2004).

National Aids Control Council (NACC, 2003) described orphanhood as a state of parentless and it encompassed a large group of children who are abused, orpanhood is a contemporary phenomenon that has globally traumatized many countries. The orphan state is caused by abandonment by parents, natural calamities, accidents and diseases, HIV/AIDS being the most prevalent. This makes it difficult for the schools management to accomplish organizational goals. A report by UNESCO (2005) reveals that Free Primary Education (FPE) created a large pool of orphans who were not able to attend school consistently due to lack of basic needs. Such children do not concentrate much in their studies and others have dropped out of school. This poses a challenge to the teachers/schools

because they cannot provide all the basic needs required by the children. The government should provide for all basic needs to vulnerable children alongside Free Primary Education, by releasing funds according to schools calendar but not the government financial year in order to reach the desired goals through the key functions of planning, organizing, directing and controlling (Teklemarian et al, 2008). This helps to arrest cases of indiscipline in school going children like, absenteeism, fighting, transactional sex and school dropout.

In developed countries, there are mechanisms of ensuring that abused children, orphans inclusive, are taken care of (Kichonge, 2007). Placing the child in an orphanage or formal foster care is commonly practiced in developed countries  like USA, UK and Australia. In Britain, the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) facilitates fostering of abused children and orphans as a way of providing a family life for them. This implies that the education needs of abused children and orphans are taken care of by the orphanages or the foster parents. This encourages participation of all children in school and reduces cases of academic non- performance.

In the United Kingdom (UK) there is a group of over thirty like-minded NGOs that organize and advocate for caring schools. The overall goal of the programme is to help the school channel sustainable, physical and emotional care to abused and other vulnerable children. Caring Schools Network (CASNET, 2007). They have identified hunger and psychosocial support as the most immediate needs of the children for enhancement of discipline and sense of belonging.

In Cambodia, Kandal province, the 2007 National census building workshop on Cambodial HIV Estimate revealed that there were 3800 children living with HIV and 142,715 AIDS affected orphans representing one quarter of orphans in the country. The HIV epidemic, poverty and food insecurity are presently threatening the survival of many children in Cambodia.

School attendance among abused and vulnerable children lowers due to socioeconomic needs. The regular schools are not meeting the educational needs of these groups of children. A mixture of challenges such as anxiety, grief, trauma, depression, stigma and discrimination makes abused and vulnerable children educational needs exceptional (Kindiki, 2009).

Many abused young people do not access the national curricular or develop basic literacy and numeracy or livelihood skills (Pridmore et al, 2005). This is caused by socio-economic factors. The government of Cambodia plays a very important role in coordinating and launching a nationwide scheme with the issuance of sufficient funds. The scheme is financed and technically supported by various international agencies and organizations. This kind of scheme helps to keep orphaned children in school (Serey et al, 2007). The vulnerable and abused children get support from all the relevant agencies in terms of scholarships, educational material, food, clothing and transportation means (bicycles). This enables the vulnerable group of learners to complete the basic education with minimal indiscipline cases. Mitigation for vulnerability of children continues to  be prioritized as a measure of agency and it is clearly stated in a newly launched Comprehensive National Strategic Plan III (2011 – 2015) in Cambodia.

Levels of orphanhood and vulnerability have always been high in sub-Saharan Africa United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF, 2004) as a result of high mortality in general and high maternity mortality in particular. It was estimated that there were 43.4 million orphans in Africa at the end of 2003 a number projected to 50million by 2010 which was instigated by AID pandemic (UNICEF, 2004).

Although policies and programmes for support provision are increasingly being put in place, African governments are struggling to meet the needs of abused and vulnerable children. It is estimated that on three percent of orphans and vulnerable children in low and middle income countries receive any form of public support (UNAIDS, 2004).

In South Africa the percentage of orphans and vulnerable children has tripled since 1990s (Ardington, 2008). Coping strategies that they rely on the extended family can be less resilient than elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa because of high level of work related and associated high rates for child fostering. The Government of South Africa has Foster Care Grant available to keep the orphans. In Botswana food rations and other kinds of material support are provided to the most disadvantaged orphans under the National orphan/vulnerable programme. This is an effort to retain these children in primary schools thus losing cases of indiscipline.


In Nigeria the number of orphaned and vulnerable children has increased as a result of AIDS. It is estimated that more than 3.4 million children are orphaned (NACC, 2013). An orphan is a child aged below 18years for whom one or both parents have died for whatever reason. A vulnerable child is a child living in a household with an abject poverty or a chronically ill person whether parent or not. This affects the participation of orphans and abused in education due to increased absenteeism, drop-out of school depression, stigma and indiscipline of the abused group which results in poor performance and indecent behaviour.

The GoK (2007) asserted that orphans are more likely to have indiscipline cases  at school. They are likely to be attending night activities (such as discos, videos shows, funerals etc) at which they are not supervised and drinking alcohol. The school management therefore must ensure that discipline issues among the abused and vulnerable are addressed in a manner not to jeopardize their stay in school.

Mutilu et al, (2011) recommends that schools need to consider disciplinary measures that are sensitive towards the abused and vulnerable pupils state of mind and background in order not to further antagonize them. This presents an additional task to teachers.

Free Primary Education (FPE) policy has realized a massive increase in school enrolment in Nigeria (Majanga, et al, 2011). Among the many children who came to school following the implementation of this policy were orphans and vulnerable children (UNICEF, PCD and World Bank, 2011). This presented a huge task for the schools management to ensure that the needs of the abused, vulnerable and orphaned children are addressed at school level.

This is met by a very tedious task given that FPE is about exercise books, pens, pencils and geometrical sets but not food, shelter and school uniform for vulnerable, abused and orphaned. Children can hardly cope with chronic problem and still give attention to their studies. Poor nutrition affects cognitive functioning (Sorhaindo and Feinstein, 2006).


(GoK, 2007). This study therefore seeks to establish the effects of child abuse in school wellbeing.

1.2    Statement of the Problem

Child abuse is taking place in Nigeria today because it is highlighted in the Nigerian constitution and there is a juvenile court that deals with children cases. Yet a large number of cases of child abuse go unreported (ANPPCAN, 2001; Mwiti, 1997). The breakdown of basic social structures (families) due to poverty and single parenting among others has increased the number of children being physically, verbally assaulted and neglected by their parents and significant others. There is population scarcity in rural areas, Kaduna North inclusive (ANPPCAN, 2001; Mwiti, 1997). When such happenings occur in the society, the weak and vulnerable are worst affected. However, children with handicaps are many times more likely to be physically abused, emotionally abused, verbally insulted and neglected than their normal peers, due to their incapability to defend themselves or report the abuse to their parents and significant others (NSPCC, 2003).

1.3    Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to establish the effects of child abuse on the academic performance of learners in public primary schools in Kaduna North Local government area.

1.4    Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study were as follows:

  1. To assess the meaning and scope of child abuse in Kaduna North Local government area.
  2. To examine the effects of child abuse on cognition in learning in Kaduna North Local government area.
  • To establish the availability of special needs trained teachers in primary schools in Kaduna North Local government area.
  1. To examine the association of abused children with non-abused children at school in Kaduna North Local government area.
  2. To examine the role of the teachers in working with the abused children in Kaduna North Local government area.

1.5    Research Questions

The research questions that guided this study are as follows.

  1. What is the meaning and scope of child abuse in Kaduna North Local government area?
  2. What effect does child abuse has on cognition in learning in Kaduna North Local government area?
  • To what extent primary schools are staffed with special needs trained teachers in Kaduna North Local government area?
  1. To what extent do the abused children associate with other learners in Kaduna North Local government area?
  2. What protective measures teachers offer to the abused learners in Kaduna North Local government area?

1.6    Significance of the Study

The research content may form a backbone or a benchmark for policy makers as a reference on the necessity of curbing the menace of child abuse, support related research in future; creating public confidence and awareness of the exposed challenges, accompanying children and creating hope and trust to children that they have schools to call homes and teachers and school fraternity, to call family in events when homes and caregivers do not play their roles responsibly. The government may revise the policy on free primary education and add money to the kit to cater for all basic needs of learners.

1.7    Delimitation

This study only confined itself to Kaduna North Local government area. The study focused on the effects of child abuse on the well-being of learners in primary schools. The study targeted teachers, parents and learners in fifteen schools in Kaduna North.

1.8    Limitation

According to Mugenda and Mugenda (2010) a limitation is an aspect of research that may influence the results negatively but over which the researcher has no control. The respondents were teachers, learners and parents who handle the abused children.

1.9        Assumptions of the Study

The researcher assumed that all respondents were cooperative and honest in giving reliable responses. The teachers who are also parents did anything positive to assist any effort that was expected to reduce child abuse on learners they handle every day of their working days. The parents were also honest in giving the first hand information concerning child abuse in families while the learners innocently reported the vice as it is on the ground.

1.10    Operations Definition of Terms

In this study the following terms were used as defined

Abused child refers to a child who suffers physical, mental or emotional acts from families, guardians, peers, institutions by withdrawal of basic needs from them.

Child abuse refers to acts of omission or commission that harms a child physically, emotionally or mentally. The research is limited to physical abuse, verbal abuse and child neglect at homes and its effects on learners in public primary schools.

Child refers to a person whose age is below eighteen years.

Coping mechanisms refers to a household in which the oldest resident is under the age of 18years.

Discipline refers to the establishment and maintenance of order and harmonious functioning of the society.

Emotional abuse refers to when parents and caregivers or significant others cause children serious behavioural, emotional or mental disorders.

NACC refers to National Aids Control Council Orphanhood.

Neglect refers to rendering no care by parents or caregivers to children. It is failure to provide basic needs to the children.

Orphan refers to a child who has lost one or both parents through death.

Physical abuse refers to deliberate infliction of pain on a child, physical abuse may include such acts as caning, burning, scolding, hitting, slapping.

Verbal abuse refers to deliberate use of verbal words to lower child’s self-esteem by shaming, belittling, naming.

1.11    Organization of the Study

 This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one dealt with background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives of the study, research questions, delimitations of the study, limitations of the study, assumption of the study and operational definition of terms. Chapter two discussed literature review, history of child abuse, meaning and scope of child abuse, family child abuse and its effects on cognition in learning, special trained teachers, association of the abused children with their non-abused peers, the role of the school on child abuse, summary of literature review, theoretical framework and conceptual framework. Chapter three discussed methodology, research design, target population, sample size and sampling procedure, research instruments, instrument validity, reliability of the instruments, data collection procedure and data analysis. Chapter four dealt with data analysis, data presentations and discussions while chapter five focused on summary of the findings, implementations, conclusions and recommendations of the study.


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