Against the backdrop of rising cases of child abuse in Nigeria, a cleric, Rev. Fr. Benedict Ugwuanyi has identified poverty, lack of proper parental care, and marital problems as leading causes of child abuse.
In his book entitled: “Psychological Interpretation of Child Abuse,” Ugwuanyi identified the different forms of child abuse to include psychological, sexual, neglect, emotional and physical abuse.
The catholic priest maintained that child abuse was a social nuisance that should be confronted by parents, teachers, competent authorities, and the government.
He stressed the need for government to prioritize issues on child abuse, adding that until the causes of child abuse were addressed, efforts to prevent them, would be futile.
‘’There is a need to organize programs for parents in order to teach and draw their attention to the need for positive parenting and development of parenting skills.
“There is also an urgent need to curb child abuse at the official level because child abuse is a social problem in Nigeria and as such, demands a legal intervention,” the clergy said.
He said that emotional and psychological abuse were more dangerous, noting that, not only because they were the least visible, but because they had long-term consequences in children.
‘’When one looks closely at the problem of low self-esteem, you find out that part of the problem is that, the abused children feel, they are not loved by their parents.
‘’Take for instance, sexually abused children, they frequently have extremely low self-esteem.
” They feel worthless, valued only as sexual objects and this affects them as they grow up because they feel unworthy and undeserving of positive attention and affection,” he said.
The cleric decried the seeming lack of concern by the government, saying that special centers should be provided to attend to such persons because they usually required the services of psychologists.
‘’Permit me to inform you that the role of a psychologist is not valued in our country, Nigeria.
“People prefer to go to their religious leaders for most of their problems, forgetting that we have experts that treat such problems.
‘’Again, the government is not paying much attention to this very problem.
“No wonder on March 3, 2021, in Geneva, UN experts urged Nigeria to prioritize specialized rehabilitation measures for the hundreds of abducted children.
‘’ Left deeply traumatized after their release and to strengthen protection measures for those at risk.
” We need well-furnished rehabilitation centers in all states of the federation,” he said.
He further called on government and policymakers to ensure prompt implementation of laws to protect children.
The Clergy noted that there was a need to strengthen special courts that would dispense quick justice to those that usually subject children to such acts.
‘’It is important to remind the government that the law serves to protect the best interest of the child.
“They should use all the necessary means, especially the legal intervention in calling the abusers to order.
‘’Government should come up with strong legislation against all forms of child abuse and neglect in Nigeria,” Ugwuanyi noted.
He, however, said that it was not enough to pass laws but to ensure that such laws were executed and enforced. (NAN)