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Child abuse which is the unjust treatment given to a child which disturbs the development process. Child abuse is one of the most challenging social catastrophes attracting public attention and the world over. Child abuse is any act of omission by parents, guardians or any caregivers that results in non-accidental physical or mental injury, or sexual abuse. Denga & Denga (2007) state that cruel behaviour on students by teachers, parents, peers, guardians, siblings and the society in general constitute child abuse. The researcher observed that Nigerian secondary school is not spared of this evil phenomenon, hence the need to carry out a study of this nature. Child abuse takes place in the home environment, at school, in church, hospitals, orphanages and in any place; public or private. In the light of this, there is no safe place for children anymore because child abuse is rampant everywhere.

The deprivation to education is referred to as child abuse as it can affect academic performance of secondary school students. 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.

An abuse according to Isanghedehi (2004) manifests 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. Mba (2013) states that children suffer from child abuse because their parents and guardian demand a great deal from them far more than the children would bear and if attention is not given to these students, they may end up dropping out of school or performing below average despite their giftedness.

In Nigeria, education is a fundamental human right and is considered as pivotal to the development of the self and the nation at large. The United Nations views education as a basic human right and an instrument for achieving social equality and higher economic development (UNICEF, 2010). However, in spite of the important role of education, the researcher observed that many students are not participating to full capacity in the education offered by the school system due to various challenges ranging from child abuse and child labour.

The researcher observed that child abuse in Nigeria is rampant and is typically perpetrated by some relatives of these children. In particular, sexual abuse is more prevalent in Nigerian secondary schools while physical and emotional abuse sometimes co-exists with sexual abuse. Students experience some forms of child abuse during their lifetime. However, in some certain quotas of the Nigeria society, abuse against students in the country is still veiled in obscurity (“family secrets) and because of this, little is done to assist the victims/students. The abused children, who often try to report such incidences, are often failed by the justice system which do very little to no action in apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators. The researcher has also observed that the academic performance of students in secondary schools in Plateau State, particularly in Pankshin 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 influence on the academic performance of secondary school students and use proffer possible intervention strategy of helping the students involved to cope with their academic works.


At the heart of every educational system lays the desire for the students to achieve their educational goals; however, the extent to which this desire is achieved in the study period of a secondary school student varies based on some problems. The greatest problem of child abuse is to deny the child right to education for proper personality development. It is also possible that those perpetuating the crimes in society at large may be ignorant and may not have the right perception of the problem of abuse and its influence on the academic performance of secondary school students. Despite high mental abilities, conscientiousness and intellectual engagement demonstrated by most students, it has been observed that the academic performance of students in secondary schools in the State, particularly, in Pankshin Local Government Area is becoming low.

In Plateau State and Pankshin Local Government in particular, many dimensions of child abuse are observed, such as: child prostitution, sexual abuse, physical abuse, hawking, child labour, child trafficking, child rejection and neglect. This disturbs the minds of many who live in fear, anxiety and worries about the child future academically; and feel that there is so much advancement in human civilization. Therefore the issue of child abuse in any form ought to be put to an end to ensure that the students excel in school without hitches. It has also been observed that in this recent times issues of child abuse 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 students are exposed to. This became the motivation to investigate the influence of child abuse on academic performance of secondary school students in Pankshin Local Government.


The broad objective of the study is to investigate the influence of child abuse on the academic performance of secondary school students in Pankshin Local Government of Plateau State. The aims and objectives of the study specifically are to:-

  1. find out the causes of child abuse on secondary school students’ academic performance in the study area.
  2. examine out the influence of child abuse on secondary school students’ academic performance.
  • suggest the possible solutions which may help to end causes and influences of child abuse on secondary school students?
  1. determine the implications of guidance and counselling on parental attitude to child abuse.


In order to achieve the objectives the following questions are hereby posed;

  • What are the factors responsible for child abuse in secondary schools?
  • What is the extent of the influence of child abuse on secondary school students’ academic performance?
  • What is the way forward to solve the problems of child abuse in secondary schools?
  • What are the implications of guidance and counselling on parental attitude to child abuse and neglect among parents?

In furtherance of the objectives the following hypothesis is hereby projected;

  • Child abuse has no significant influence on secondary school students’ academic performance.
  • There is no significant relationship between counselling on child abuse in secondary school.

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.

It is expected that the result of this study would be useful to school administrators, teachers and parents in their effort to put an end to the problem of students’ child abuse on academic performance through guidance and counselling services.

The study would also be useful to the government and policy makers in formulating policies that will ensure a disciplined and patriotic behaviour on the part of guardians and other individuals on abusing children right to education.

The research will also be a resource of value to other researchers carrying out research on the topic or similar subject matter.

The overall aim of this study is the complete wiping out of child abuse among secondary school students so that teaching learning atmosphere will be conducive and free from dangers. In an environment, there will be better enhancement of knowledge.


The study is intended to cover ten (10) secondary schools out of the one hundred and twenty (120) registered secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area. The researcher deems it appropriate to select these secondary schools because it is assumed that children who attend these schools are of the same social class and face the same social and life challenges. Also, the calibers of teachers that teach in such schools are mostly of same social orientation. The study is also limited to the issue of child abuse and academic performance of secondary school students since it will be too cumbersome to study all the factors that deter academic performance of school children in the area and the implications involved.


The following terms are been defined as used in this work:

Influence: These are results or consequences of child abuse students face in schools.

A Child: In this context, a child is any person under the age of 18 years.

Child Abuse: 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.

Physical Abuse: Refers to the non-accidental use of physical force against a child that can or results in harm to the child.

Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with a child’s positive development, psyche and self-concept.

Sexual Abuse: A child sexual abuse is the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child/adolescent.

Child Neglect: 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.

Educational Abuse: Educational child abuse 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.

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: 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.

Parents: This refers to adults, caregivers, relatives and guardians responsible for upbringing of a child.

Counseling: Involves helping a student to deal with or remove frustrations and obstacles that interfere with their lives and develop his most acceptable self by thinking through the situation him/herself in an accepting atmosphere.

Guidance: A process of helping learners to develop self understanding, capabilities for making realistic career decisions, overcome personality deficits and make optimal academic progress.

Guidance and Counselling: Includes all services that help a student understanding of him/herself, his/her in challenges facing his/her life for optimum development.

Students: These are group of learners who are studying at secondary schools.

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