THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON SCHOOL CHILDREN: A STUDY OF SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN EGOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EDO STATE CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY Domestic violence is the intentional and persistent abuse of anyone in the home in a way that causes pain, distress or injury (Ahie, 2009). As a social malady, domestic violence cuts across both the developed and developing nations of the world. Given it's global nature, domestic violence has caught the attention of relevant stakeholders including national and state governments of countries, both local and international health organizations, child right groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and of course the academics. As such, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (2006) asserts that domestic violence is a global problem of enormous proportions. For Adebayo (2014), domestic violence transcends national, cultural, racial and class boundaries. Despite being a global phenomenon, domestic violence in Nigeria as in most other African societies presents a peculiar case, in view of two obtaining interrelated realities. Firstly, the Nigerian society is traditionally patriarchal in nature, a reality which reinforces male- dominance and female subordination (Makama, 2013). Secondly, there is a high level of dependency in Nigeria (Zaggi, 2014; Nwakeze&Omoju, 2011). The National Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF (2007) reports that the dependency ratio for Nigeria stands at 91%, meaning that a huge number of women, children and old-aged Nigerians depend on working class people, most of whom are men, given the employment structure tilted towards men. Putting the above two realities of a male-dominated society and the high dependence of other members of the family on males, what we have is a case of largely unchecked and unreported incidence on domestic violence perpetrated mostly by men towards other members of the family in Nigeria. In view of the traditionally reinforced male-dominance and the fact that domestic violence thrives on an existing relationship of dependence of the victims on the abusers, Ahie (2009) reports that domestic violence is culturally acceptable in Nigeria. In fact, Ahie (2009) points out that domestic violence functions as a means through which men enforce the conformity of women to their decidedly subordinate role in the customarily patriarchal Nigerian society. One of the most basic features of domestic violence is that it takes place within the home or family which is has been variously identified as the first context of socialization of the child (Driscoll & Nagel, 2011; Nguyen, 2011). This places children as a vulnerable group in the center of domestic violence either witnessing violence; exposed to violence; experiencing direct abuse; hearing or seeing violence; and living with domestic violence. As such, Ahie (2009) points out that children are often principal victims of domestic violence. In a similar perspective, Finkelhor, Turner, Ormrod and Hamby (2009) acknowledge that children suffer higher rates of exposure to violence and crime than do adults, and such exposure is responsible for a considerable burden of physical and mental health morbidity. In the first ever global study on children exposure to domestic violence, UNICEF (2006) report that as many as 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home. Futures Without Violence (2008) points out the widely acclaimed and undisputed view that growing up in a violent home may be a terrifying and traumatic experience that can affect every aspect of a child's life, growth and development. This is because, child development is expected to occur within a secure and nurturing family and home environment. When domestic violence is present and becomes the norm, the environment is infected with tension and fear, wherein the normal tasks of growing up are likely to be adversely affected. For Nigeria, Olupohunda (2014) report that domestic violence is known to tear families apart, but the effects on children's emotional and academic development are much worse. Idogo (2011) opine that early childhood victimization, either through direct abuse, neglect, or witnessing parental domestic violence, has been shown to have demonstrable long-term consequences for antisocial behaviour, youth violence, adult violence tendencies, and other forms of criminality in the long run. Children in Nigeria are caught in the middle and exposed to domestic violence, leaving the children and the society at large have to deal with the adverse life-long sequelae that comes with it. In view of the high incidence of domestic violence in Nigerian families and its adverse consequences for children it becomes imperative to identify the specific impacts it has on the children. In this regard, this study investigates the multifaceted toll domestic violence exerts on in-school children in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. 1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Nigeria faces epic proportions of violence. Thus, Musa (2014a) reports that Nigeria as a country is increasingly being plagued with several forms of violence, the most prominent being the spate of Boko Haram terrorism, sectarian and religious violence, ethnic and communal clashes. Musa (2014b) identifies the visible negative consequence of such violence to include residential compartmentalisation; destroyed and damaged landmarks and properties; hostile interpersonal relationship especially among persons of different religious affiliation; inability to freely visit and access certain streets, markets and business premises by reason of religious belongingness; high level distrust, acrimony, rivalry and enmity among the populace. CLEEN Foundation (2013) report that domestic violence ranks amongst the top four most common victimizations in Nigeria.Amnesty International (2005) report that domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against Nigerian women. Thus, on a daily basis, women are beaten, acid-bathed, raped and ill-treated for supposed transgressions, leading to sustained physical injuries, protracted emotional and psychological disorders, horrific disfigurements and in extreme cases, death. The problem of domestic violence in Nigeria is a peculiar one in view of other undesirable realities that coexist with the problem especially poverty, given that most Nigerian households are poor. As such Imhonde, Aluede and Oboite (2009) opine that poor families are more likely to be affected by domestic violence than relatively high-income homes. Another peculiarity of domestic violence problem in Nigeria is the most prevalent form of violence that it is not being recognized as a grave problem that needs to be systemically dealt with. As such, Ahie (2009) points out that there is some acceptance of some abusive behaviour such as wife battering and harsh discipline of children as 'normal' in the Nigerian society. In a similar perspective, Adebayo (2014) holds that violence is too frequently excused and tolerated in Nigerian communities, with husbands, partners and fathers being responsible for most of the violence against women. One other peculiarity of the domestic violence problem in Nigeria is that it is either unreported or under-reported. Ahie (2009) reports that victims of domestic violence in Nigeria do not report for fear of reprisal from abusers or the belief that the police and the judicial system cannot help, with law enforcement agencies usually dismissing complaints of domestic violence as a "private matter" or more popularly, "husband and wife" or "boyfriend and girlfriend" matter. In a similar vein, Adebayo (2014) reports that victims of domestic violence are often embarrassed to report such incidences to the right agencies for justice. Children as one of the most vulnerable groups suffers a sizeable burden of the ripple effects of domestic violence. As such, Adebayo (2014) posits that domestic violence as a social malady threatens the stable and balanced psychological development of children in the Nigerian society, as children raised in violent homes are known to imbibe violent tendencies as they grow up. The above view corroborates one of major findings by UNICEF (2006) that is a strong likelihood that domestic violence results in a cycle of violence for the next generation, given that the single best predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether or not they grow up in a home where there is domestic violence. For children who live in households with domestic violence, Imhonde, Aluede and Oboite (2009) identifies serious negative effects to include aggression, phobias, insomnia, low self-esteem, depression, low level of social competence, poor academic performance. Despite these undesirable outcomes, the UNICEF (2006) in the first ever global study on domestic violence and children, points out that collecting reliable data on this hidden issue poses several challenges, as in almost every country there is limited data available on the prevalence of domestic violence, and even less information on the numbers of children who may be exposed to such violence. For Nigeria, UNICEF Nigeria (2011) report that reliable data on violence against children in Nigeria is scarce because violence is often not reported as it occurs mostly within the context where it is regarded as 'normal' such as within the family circle or behind the privacy of homes. National-wide studies as well as studies focusing on the incidence and impact of domestic violence on in-school children in Nigeria are either few or inaccessible. This is a major research gap that this study intends to fill. With focus on in-school secondary children in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, this study will establish the incidence and impacts of domestic violence on in-school children. 1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY This study primarily aims to investigate the impacts of domestic violence on secondary school children. In this regard, this study specifically aims to: 1. Ascertain the level of domestic violence to which secondary schoolchildren are exposed. 2. Determine if domestic violence has a significant impact on the learning processes and outcomes of secondary school children. 3. Ascertain if domestic violence has a significant impact on the social competence and interpersonal relations of secondary school children. 4. Establish if domestic violence has a significant impact on the aggressive/non-aggressive behavioral tendencies of secondary school children. 5. Establish if domestic violence has a significant impact on the health behavior of secondary school children as regards to sexual activity and alcohol use. 1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS The fundamental research question posed in this study is: What is the impact of domestic violence on secondary schoolchildren? Specifically, the following research questions were asked to guide the study: 1. What is the level of domestic violence to which secondary students are exposed? 2. Does domestic violence have a significant impact on the learning processes and outcomes of secondary school students? 3. Does domestic violence have a significant impact on the social competence and interpersonal relations of secondary school students? 4. Does domestic violence have a significant impact on the aggressive/non-aggressive behavioral tendencies of secondary school students? 5. Does domestic violence have a significant impact on the health behavior of secondary school students as regards to sexual indulgence and alcohol abuse? 1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES In line with our research questions, the following research hypotheses were formulated to further guide our study: HO1: Secondary school children are exposed to a significantly low level of domestic violence. HO2: Domestic violence has no significant impact on the learning processes and outcomes of secondary school children. HO3: Domestic violence has no significant impact on the social competence and interpersonal relations of secondary school children. HO4: Domestic violence has no significant impact on the aggressive/non-aggressive behavioral tendencies of secondary school children. HO5: Domestic violence has no significant impact on the health behavior of secondary school children as regards to sex and alcohol use. 1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY The relevance of this study is fundamentally underscored by its focus on in-school secondary school students, most of whom are still within childhood and adolescence, both phases being very delicate and critical stages of one's life, requiring significant emotional investments and social support especially from home. Such required level of emotional investments and social support from home is usually absent in homes where domestic violence is the norm. Moreover, the secondary school age or phase is crucial as most children begin to make decisions and choices, thereby forming lifestyles for themselves, which affects them presently and very well into adulthood. Thus, it becomes imperative to systemically identify the impacts domestic violence have on secondary school students. The relevance of this study is also reinforced by the relatively slim body of literature on the subject matter, despite children being identified as a very vulnerable group of domestic violence and the grossly adverse consequences it has both for the growth and development of the child as an individual adult and collectively for the society. In this regard, this study attempts to establish the level of exposure of in-school children to domestic violence as well as the consequences of such exposure for various aspects of students' lives. Thus, this study adds to the slim body of research literature on the subject matter, and is expected to be of benefit to researchers in related investigations and analysis. Finally, the results and recommendations of the study will form critical inputs for decision makers, policy actors and school administrations in coming up with effective awareness campaigns to draw the attention of the Nigerian public to the existence of the problem, and also develop a framework within which domestic violence can be reported and dealt with within the rubric of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system. 1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY The scope of this research study covers all secondary school students in Edo State. For our empirical field study, students will be randomly chosen from selected secondary schools in EgorLGA of Edo State. A major constraint faced by this study is the slim background of scholarly works on this research area which poses a huge constraint to this study. Closely related is the inaccessibility of the few works that exist as another major constraint on this study in terms of the extra time and cost of obtaining relevant materials for referential and review purposes. Another major constraint faced by this study is that domestic violence in Nigeria is regarded as a "private matter" which the children might be reluctant to talk about, being a very traumatic experience for them. This might affect the openness and objectivity of the sampled students, which could adversely affect the results of our study. Also, the research is also constrained by the time and cost of obtaining primary data from our field study for analysis. 1.8 OPERATIONALIZATION OF TERMS In the context of this study, the following terms are the operational definitions were adopted: Impact: A significant or strong influence of something on another. Domestic Violence: A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner, involving physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions. Secondary School Students: These are students enrolled in classes of the junior and secondary school levels covering from junior secondary school one (JSS1) to junior secondary school three (JSS3) for use junior category and from senior secondary school one (SSS1) to senior secondary school three (SSS3).
THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON SCHOOL CHILDREN: A STUDY OF SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN EGOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EDO
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