“Childhood should be carefree; playing in the sun, not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.” A quote by Dave Pelzer in his autobiography ‘A child called it’. In this book he portrays his life between the ages of 4-12 and talks about the severe abuse he suffered. He writes about how his mother starved him, forced him to drink ammonia (a chemical substance used in harmful cleaning products), stabbed him in the stomach, burnt his arm on a gas stove and much more. One of the worst cases of child abuse of all time.
But what is child abuse exactly? The bing online dictionary defines child abuse as “severe mistreatment of a child by the parent, guardian, or any other adult responsible for his or her welfare.”. When most people think of child abuse, they think of children being beaten but what they do not know is that they are various types of child abuse, namely: verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and many more.
Most people suffer physical abuse which is being beaten or any other form of harm done on the body, but if you think that is painful, what about a child that has had to go through various types of child abuse? That was the case of Nia Glassive. The three year old girl experienced torture her whole life from her parents and siblings. Being kicked in the face causing her nose to bleed, hit, slapped, punched and jumped on. Objects such as shoes being thrown at her, continually being told that she was ugly, made to bathe in cold water during mid-winter, forced into a television cabinet drawer, put into a tumble dryer and spun on high temperature, left lying in a coma for 36 hours with no medical attention! Nia died on August 3rd 2007 from massive bleeding between her skull and brain. I’m very sure that more than half of the people in the audience are not aware of this story and this is because child abuse is an issue that is being neglected in our society.
Let’s leave Europe out of it for a moment and come back to our country Nigeria. Studies show that the major forms of child abuse in Nigeria are sexual abuse, hawking, vagrancy, kidnapping and abandonment. In Nigeria, kids are made to stop school in order to sell food and other necessities on the road and to become the breadwinner of the home. This is known as hawking, a type of child abuse that you and I witness everyday, but ignore. There’s also the usual kidnapping which happens in some states in Nigeria. This is when kids are used as bait in order for the kidnappers to exploit their parents into paying large sums of money. When these kids are taken, they are given little food or water and left to suffer.
Another case of child abuse, which this time happened in Nigeria is the case of Godwin. The five year old boy who was accused of causing his mothers death. “When a relative asked Godwin if he was a witch, he said no but was made to confess that he actually did kill his mother” reported Sam who runs an orphanage. Godwin was locked up with his mothers corpse every night for three weeks with little food or water until a neighbor contacted Sam. Now quoting Sam, They can say your child is a witch and if you bring them to some particular people they can deliver them, but eventually they don’t. The parents go back to the people and say “why is it that you have not been able to deliver my child” and they say “this one has gone past deliverance, there’s nothing we can do so you need to throw the child out” Abandonment! A type of child abuse which surprisingly happens everyday. This story was reported by CNN and happened in Akwa Ibom.
Another type of Child abuse is sexual abuse which can be related to female children in the North being given off for marriage. Parents generously offer their little girls to grown men for marriage in which they are forced to participate in sexual intercourse which can scar them for life and ruin any future for that child. Sexual abuse is one of the most sever and critical forms of child abuse.
Neglect is also a common form of child abuse that happens in most homes although the parents are not aware, this is when parents are not there for their children, do not make it easy for their children to open up to them and so on.
Studies show that 30% of abused children grow up to be abusive parents and people may wonder ‘if they were abused as a child, why would they want their own kids to suffer’ but what most people do not understand is that kids are only as a result of their parent’s actions; they grow up living with their parents examples and think what their parents do is right.
Ladies and gentlemen, how do we quantify the levels of betrayal, emotional, physical and spiritual torture that fragments and destroys a child and casts a traumatic shadow over the whole of their adult life?
We children need to learn to speak up! If you or anyone you know is going through any form of child abuse that I have mentioned, I urge you to tell an adult before it’s too late so your case does not become like that of Nia’s or Godwin.
This is a clarion call to parenthood patriotism; we should all rise against all forms of child abuse.