ROLE OF THE BROADCAST MEDIA IN CURBING CHILD ABUSE
MENACE OF CHILD ABUSE:
A Television Documentary Production
SOLOMON SAMUEL ADETOKUNBO
BEING A PROFESSIONAL PROJECT SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT
OF MASS COMMUNICATION, FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES,
UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS, IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE
(B.SC HONS.) IN MASS COMMUNICATION.
I hereby declare that this professional work Menace of Child Abuse: A Television
Documentary has not been accepted in substance for any other degree and is not being
submitted concurrently for any other degree. It is a product of my research, written by me
and not copied from any past work. I also declare that published materials directly used in
the research work are appropriately acknowledged.
NAMES: SOLOMON SAMUEL ADETOKUNBO
I certify that this professional project Menace of Child Abuse: A Television
Documentary was written by Solomon Samuel Adetokunbo and has been approved by
me as having satisfied the requirement of the Department of Mass Communication of the
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos, for the award of Bachelor of Science
(B.Sc. Hons) degree in Mass Communication.
Mrs. Joy-Rita Mogbogu Date
Dr. Abayomi C. Daramola Date
Ag. Head of Department
External Examiner Date
This work is dedicated to God Almighty without whom I am nothing. To Him who
is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all I could ever ask or think of. He
alone is worthy. Thank you Lord for not giving up on me.
I give God all the Glory for bringing me this far, He alone is worthy of my Praise.
My sincere appreciation goes to the Dr Abayomi C. Daramola Acting Head of
Department, a very good administrator & Advertising Guru. Thank you Sir for your care
and kind gestures.
The Success of this project rested on the shoulder of an affable lecturer, my project
Supervisor. Her name is Mrs Joy-Rita Mogbogu. She is a, critique, friend, above all a
teacher who counselled me from time to time. I owe you a great debt of gratitude which I
hope to pay back someday.
My amiable course adviser Mrs Khadijat Aledeh, who stood with us through thick and
thin and steered our academic ship through tides and led us through to the end. May God
honour you Ma.
I appreciate the role played by Professor Ralph A. Akinfeleye, in the advancement of we
Students’ and Department at large. Your legacy will forever remain a part of us.
To, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Dr Olubunmi Ajibade, Dr. Amobi Ifeoma, Dr Soji
Alabi, Dr Oloruntola Sunday, Dr Adepoju Tejumaiye, Dr Ismail Ibrahim, Mr Tayo
Popoola, Mrs Adepate Koiki, Mr. Akinyemi Taiwo and Mr. Teslim Lawal, - all academic
staff of the department of Mass Communication UNILAG, God bless you all.
To Dr. Victor Ayedun Aluma, Mr. Lekan Otufodurin, Mr Fassy Yusuf. Thank you for
your impartation of Knowledge, I couldn’t have gotten this far without tapping from your
vast reservoir of Knowledge and Academic Experience.
To my School Father, Professor Omololu Soyombo thank you for your timely counsels
and kind support.
To all my Friends, Course mates, and every Student at the Department of Mass
Communication, UNILAG, my love for you will never die. Thank you all for accepting
me for who I am and keeping up with my flaws.
To my Parents, Dr. Adeyemi and Mrs. Funmilayo Solomon for your love, support and
prayers; you will have your reward. To my Brother: Solomon Adedayo and my Sister
Solomon Abiola; I love you all.
To all Communicators for Christ (CFC) - UNILAG, the Excos. (2012 – 2013) and
members of Mass Communication Students’ Association (MCSA), thank you for giving
me the opportunity to serve as President (2012/2013), as General Secretary (2011/2012)
and as a Parliamentarian at the Social Science Students Association, Faculty of Social
To anyone who contributed in prayer or kind towards my academic pursuit, whose name
I have omitted as a result of space constraint, I deeply appreciate your efforts, May God
bless and reward you mightily.
Child abuse has been a global problem affecting the developed, developing and under-
developing countries of the world with different measures being taken by both the
Government and Non-Governmental organisation to put an end to it. This is a social
documentary that used an expository approach to look at the issue of causes, dangers
and forms of child abuse. The documentary presented an overview of the role played by
the broadcast media in the control of the menace in Nigeria role played by the broadcast
with emphasis on the implications of the issues for research, prevention, and policy
decision. Media experts, Lawyer, Sociologist, NGO/Social Worker, Police officer and
several others were interviewed in the course of this production and they recommended
that for Child abuse to be controlled and obliterated a well-focused mass media
campaign, educational program or live-theatre production has the potential to contribute
successfully to community education and the prevention of child abuse and neglect as
well as putting the Legislature on hot spot to propagate more laws to protect the right of
every child combined with the power of the media to see make sure that the executive arm
of government provides a working structure to execute these laws.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Table of Contents viii
Background to the production 1
The Television Documentary 8
Documentary as an art form of social persuasion, national, development and
attitudinal change 9
Documentary as a genre 10
Types of Documentary 10
Significance of the production 15
Literature review 19
Causes of Child abuse 30
Effects of child abuse 30
Images of Children in the society and the media 32
Media influence on children and child’s right 35
Prominent cases of child abuse in Nigeria 38
Impact of media campaign on victims of child abuse 40
Mass Media education and prevention campaign 42
Child rights and the media: The Nigeria experience 44
Theoretical framework 51
Production procedure 54
Challenges and Limitation 56
Operational definition 58
Television Documentary script 63
Summary, Evaluation and Conclusion
Contribution from Evaluators 80
BACKGROUND TO THE PRODUCTION
Incidents of child abuse and neglect can occur in different types of social and economic
settings. However, reported cases tend to cluster within certain geographic areas or
neighbourhoods that are marked by other signs of disadvantage, violence, and decay.
Placing a child maltreatment story within the broader context of family life or a
neighbourhood situation can help illustrate both the presence and the absence of risk and
protective factors that affect the lives of those who care for children. Follow-up or “take-
out” stories provide useful opportunities to address contextual issues and describe data
sources which can help inform the general public about the underlying issues associated
with abuse and neglect (Herrenkohl 2005).
In the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is every human being below the
age of eighteen years. Similarly, the Nigerian Child Right Act (2003), passed into law by
the house of Assembly, defines a child as a person who has not attained the age of
Four types of abuse and neglect are commonly recognized as forms of child
maltreatment: Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, and Psychological or Emotional
Maltreatment. More than half of the substantiated cases involve victims of child neglect.
Many cases of child maltreatment also involve multiple forms of abuse and neglect
The media plays a significant role in forming and influencing people's attitudes and
behaviour. Leeb et al; 2008 noted that ‘Child abuse drew attention to the essential role of
the media in increasing society's awareness of, and response to, child abuse and neglect.
Of particular note is the part played by news and features that reported on specific child
abuse cases, research and intervention strategies’. Such media attention to child abuse
has, at times, positively influenced public, professional and political responses to the
circumstances in which children and young people find themselves. Understanding media
influences, and how to use the media constructively, may thus be an essential tool for
those who advocate for children, young people, and their families (Brown, 2011).
In Nigeria, for instance, juvenile delinquency and breeding of street children are direct
consequences of child abuse and neglect. A Country where the Child Rights Bill is
passed and mere lip-service is paid to its implementation amounts to hypocrisy and
apathy as far as issues of child abuse and neglect is concerned. It is common knowledge
that children in Nigeria are bludgeoned into child labour and prostitution by highly
placed persons under the guise of philanthropy. Given these circumstances, the average
Nigerian does not seem to be aware of the provisions of the Child Rights Bill needless to
say the instruments before it. It is even more worrisome in the light of the fact that most
forms of youth violence, unrest, riots are linked with child abuse and neglect (Ellis et al;
The media are undoubtedly persuasive instruments in man’s struggle for self-liberation
and development. In line with this, the mass media selects and bring to waiting
multitudes a constant flow of details related to those fruitful dialogues of differences and
concordance upon which free societies thrive. With respect to child rights issue, the
media most especially television medium coverage has been used as weapon of
awareness creation. In this regard, The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) and
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have produced “I Need to Know” a
Nigerian family-oriented television series that aired on the NTA network. In Oredo local
government area of Edo State for example, the programme is a regular feature on Edo
Broadcasting Service (EBS), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Independent
Television (ITV). It addresses child rights, abuse, and welfare and issues. Similarly,
Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), at the
instance of Mrs Titi Abubakar the wife of Atiku Abubakar former Vice President in 2002
bankrolled the production of “Izozo” a weekly drama serial on national television. This
programme which aires weekly (NTA network service) was mainly on child labour and
its evils (Fuller-Thomson and Brennenstuhl 2009).
There is an active trade in children both within and outside the country. This totally
deviates from the traditional African culture of handing over children from indigent
families to live with relations that are more affluent. With the old practice, a silent trade
by barter is achieved through chores while the affluent relative trains the child for a
brighter future. What obtains today is that probably due to poverty, parents in the rural
areas hand over their children to urban dwellers who most often fail to put them through
school rather using them as unpaid servants or street hawkers. Child labour is a problem
faced in many developing countries and the harrowing experiences of affected children
reeks of gory stories of road accidents or inhuman treatment (such as the chopping of
hands, starvation or bathing with oil or hot water) meted out by their ‘madams’ and
‘ogas’ (their present guardians) (Durrant, 1996).
For several reasons, however, the effectiveness of these campaigns remains contentious.
Primarily, the effectiveness of mass media in the prevention of child abuse and neglect is
debatable. Some scholars argue that 'media campaigns are very expensive' and their
impact is difficult to determine. Expensive media campaigns may be hard to justify in a
political climate where limited funds and resources are provided to address children's
needs. Others argue that at best, the media are effective at building citizen awareness of
an issue" but more complex attitudinal or behavioural change requires more direct forms
of citizen contact and intervention (Brown, 2011).
It is sad to know that today, irrespective of the effort different governmental
organizations, multinational and broadcast media have put together to eradicate the
problem of child abuse, the problem still exists. It is the responsibility of the media to
create awareness on the issue, inform the public about the problem, enlighten the public
on the different forms of child abuse people engage in knowingly or unknowingly and the
aftermath or implications it has on its victims. The act of creating awareness is done by
the media through the production of different types of programmes that may be produced
in various formats e.g. drama, soap opera, documentary, magazine show, news-story,
series, serials etc.
This research project has been produced as a Television documentary that will be used as
a tool for communicating development, awareness on the child abuse in the Nigerian
society and stating the role being played by the broadcast media in obliterating Child
abuse in Nigeria.
The issue of child abuse in Nigeria is surrounded by a lot of unanswered questions. For
instance, how many children have access to education, health facilities and even leisure
especially when states are charged with deducing measures for endorsing and defending
child welfare? What factors also constitute measures of appropriate welfare provision? It
may be deduced therefore, that when one considers the problems of extreme poverty and
dysfunctional democratic ideals impeding the advancement of the Nigerian child, one
may not be too hasty to condemn the gains of child labour as a survival strategy for some
children who do not have the state, community or parents to rely on (Brown, 2011).
With the preceding, it is evident that Nigerians have been paying lip service to prevention
of child abuse for appropriate prevention of child abuse should touch on the primary level
of complex political, economic, cultural and social problems stimulating child abuse.
When primary instead of secondary prevention measures come to bear in the Nigerian
environment, this should be heralded by increased education of the masses, political
lobbying, formulation of new laws and economic measures all targeted at protecting the
Even more disheartening is the fact that child labour has escalated to the level where
young children are used for money making rituals and in recent times, the Niger Delta
disparaged the active trade in child labourers to Cameroon, Gabon, Benin and Equatorial
Guinea where the males work in agricultural enterprises while the females are enticed
into prostitution. As proof, in January 2002, the Cote D’Ivoire authorities deported a
number of 10-year-old girls from Abidjan to Lagos State. Further, a trade route used by
traffickers of child labourers was uncovered that went through Katsina and Sokoto to the
Middle East and East Africa. Plus, Dutch officials intercepted what may have been an
organised smuggling of about 12 children within a 5-month period from November 1998
to March 2002. Although there are still situations where children going into service as
domestic servants meet appreciative households who afford them opportunities to acquire
even a University Degree, generally, the bane of child labour is that the future of innocent
and unconsenting children lies in the hands of often heartless task masters (Brown, 2011).
There have been reported cases of trafficking in women and children for illegitimate
purposes. While the nature and magnitude of the trade has remained vastly unknown,
immigration officials throughout Europe have reported an influx of Nigerian females
ensnared and sold into prostitution in such European countries as- the Netherlands, Italy,
and the Czech Republic. For instance, in 2001, Italian officials deported hundreds of
commercial sex workers to Nigeria; Spanish officials deported 16 such workers while
other European countries have deported similar numbers. Also based on the narratives of
some young deportees, there are assertions that some Nigerian crime syndicates have
employed “indebtedness, threats of beatings and/or rape, physical injury to the victim’s
family, arrest and deportation to persuade those forced into sex work from attempting to
escape (Golden and Prather, 2009).
Many Nigerians have witnessed successive governments disparaging the various
practices that constitute abuse and neglect of children. However, these governments
especially the democratically elected ones have done nothing to stop those traditional
practices such as early sale of the girl child for marriage. While some studies report that
female children are given away in marriage before attaining puberty as a means of
preventing the licentious act of premarital sex, others report that early marriages are
strategies adopted by poor families to supplement negligible incomes. Finally, when one
considers the Nigerian environment where little girls act as guides to blind beggars or
young boys are seen living on the fall outs of refuse bins, it is apparent that these children
have learnt to adjust to circumstances to which they have been born into or forced to
blend into (Herrenkohl, 2005).
In addition to news stories, feature articles, and investigative journalism, sporadic mass
media education and prevention campaigns are launched. These campaigns usually
endeavour to broaden community knowledge of child abuse and neglect, to influence
people's attitudes towards children and young people, and to change behaviours that
contribute to, or precipitate, the problem of child abuse and neglect in our communities.
However, examples of mass-media campaigns in the area of child abuse are rare in the
literature. Moreover, in reports of campaigns the focus generally lies on the outcomes.
More than 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect, concerning 5 million children, are
received annually by state- or county-based child protective services agencies in the
United States alone in 2008 (Theoklitou et al; 2011). Therefore, this study was aimed at
providing insight into how well broadcast stations cover stories and cases of child abuse
THE TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY
Hardy (1979) cites film maker John Grierson who defines documentary as the "creative
treatment of an actuality." "Documentaries evolved in the late 1920’s and 1930’s works
of photojournalist and film producers like Roy Stryker, John Grierson and Pare Lorentz
who had a yearning to share the adventure of other men's with viewers in other to bring
about their commiseration with the downtrodden and underprivileged "(Barnouw 1993).
• Barnouw (1903) writes that television documentary is an adaptable form of
nonfictions programming that has served various functions over the years. However
other functions of documentary examined by Nichols (2001) are as follow:
• The fact that documentaries enable people to become enlightened, to see, hear and
understand more in order to get inspired and gain insight. It is an illumination of truth.
• Documentaries provide education or knowledge on a wide range of subjects, teaching
people how to be proficient in different endeavours.
• Documentaries induce relativism and constructivism with an in-depth presentation of
facts, they help to construct their own individual meanings of subjects and facilitate
the development their perspective on things.
DOCUMENTARY AS AN ART FORM OF SOCIAL PERSUASION, NATIONAL,
DEVELOPMENT AND ATTITUDINAL CHANGE
Grierson (1979) asserts that documentary is the art of social engineering, its functions
being to express norm is and values which then become integrated into the value system
of the spectator. He posits that documentaries have been used to call attention to injustice
and in many cases to campaign for change. Furthermore Grierson provides that
documentary film movement is motivated by a force which is social and not aesthetic and
that the mass media of film is the ideal tool for such education because of the following
• It gives general access to the public.
• It lends itself to rhetoric, for no form of description can add nobility to a simple
observation as readily as a camera set low or a sequence cut to a time beat
• It can be used to play a mediating and socialising role in the modern society.
• It is capable of direct description, simple analysis and -commanding
• Facts can be recorded, preserved and utilised for generations to come.
Conclusively, from the afore listed facts it can be deduced that documentaries have
been used as an eye opener, awareness creator and source of relevant information for
the general public sensitizing them to issues needed to be raised onto the platform
of social discourse.
DOCUMENTARY AS A GENRE
Uyo (1987) writes the word documentary is a derivative of document, from Latin word
“documentum” which means example, proof or lesson. The author illuminates on the
potential of documentaries to educate as he writes that the genre intensively and
extensively” dwells on relevant subjects using real people situations and events.
The Oxford Advanced Learners English Dictionary (Sixth Edition) defines a
documentary as a Him or a radio or television programme giving facts, records or reports
about something by using pictures or recordings.
TYPES OF DOCUMENTARIES
Nicholas (1991) writes that documentaries are classified with their modes of preservation.
He provides six modes of presenting television documentaries, poetic, observational,
expository, participatory, performative and reflexive.
1. Poetic documentary: The poetic documentary first appeared in the 1920’s, were a
sort of reaction against both the content and the rapidly crystallizing grammar of the
early fiction film. The poetic mode moved away from continuity editing and instead
organized images of the material world by means of associations and patterns, both in
terms of time and space. Well-rounded characters - 'life-like people' - were absent;
instead, people appeared in these films as entities, just like any oilier, that are found in
the material world; the films were, fragmentary, impressionistic, and lyrical. Their
disruption of the coherence of time and space-coherence favoured by the fiction films
of the day can also be seen as an element of the modernist counter-model of cinematic
narrative. The 'real world'-Nichols calls it the "historical world" -was broken up into
fragments and aesthetically reconstituted using film form.
2. Expository documentary: The expository documentary speaks directly to the
viewer, often in the form of an authoritative commentary employing voiceover or
titles, proposing a strong argument and point of view. These films are rhetorical, and
try to persuade the viewer. (They may use a rich and sonorous male voice.) The (voice-
of-God) commentary often sounds 'objective' and omniscient, Images are often
not paramount; they exist to advance the argument. The rhetoric insistently presses
upon us to read the images in a certain fashion. Historical documentaries in this
mode deliver an unproblematic and 'objective' account and interpretation of past
3. Observational documentary: This documentary attempts to simply and
spontaneously observe lived life with a minimum of intervention. Filmmakers who
worked in this sub-genre often saw the poetic mode as too abstract and the expository
mode as too didactic. The first observational documentaries date back to the
1960’s the technological developments which made them possible include mobile
lightweight cameras and portable sound recording equipment for synchronized sound.
Often, this mode of film eschewed voice-over commentary, post-synchronized
dialogue and music, or re-enactments. The films aimed for immediacy, intimacy, and
revelation of individual human character in ordinary life situations.
4. Participatory documentary: The participatory documentary believes that it is
impossible for the act of filmmaking to not influence or alter the events being filmed.
What these films do is emulate the approach of the anthropologist: participant-
observation. Not only is the filmmaker part of the film, we also get a sense of how
situations in the Him are affected or altered by her presence. Nichols: “The filmmaker
steps out from behind the cloak of voice-over commentary, steps away from poetic
meditation, steps down from a fly-on-the-wall perch, and become a social actor
(almost) like any other. (almost like any other because the filmmaker retains the
camera and with it, a certain degree of potential power and control over events)."
The encounter between filmmaker and subject becomes a critical element of the film.
Rouch and Morin named the approach “cinema verite”, translating Dziga Vertov's
kiuopi-avda into French; the "truth" refers to the truth of the encounter rather than
some absolute truth.
5. Reflexive documentaries: Reflexive documentary do not see themselves as a
transparent window on the world; instead they draw attention to their own
constructiveness, and the fact that they are representations. How does the world get
represented by documentary films? This question is central to this sub-genre of films.
They prompt us to "question the authenticity of documentary in general." It is the
most self-conscious of all the modes, and is highly sceptical of realism.
6. Performative documentary: This form of documentary stresses subjective
experience and emotional response to the world. They are strongly personal,
unconventional, perhaps poetic and/or experimental, and might include hypothetical
enactments of events designed to make us experience what: it might be like for us to
possess a certain specific perspective on the world that is not our own, e.g. that of
black, gay men in Marlon Riggs's Tongues Untied (1989) or Jenny Livingston's Paris
is Burning (1991). This sub-genre might also lend itself 10 certain groups (e.g.
women, ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, etc.) to 'speak about themselves.' Often,
a battery of techniques, many borrowed from fiction or avant-garde films, is used.
Performative documentaries often link up personal accounts or experiences with
larger political or historical realities.
The various types of documentaries that exist are classified based on their subject
matters or in their area of focus. Here types of documentaries include: news
documentary, social documentary, science documentary, historical documentary and
nature. 'Topics under these areas are explored in different ways in the sole objective
of informing and enlightening the people who make up the audience.
This type of documentary focuses on contemporary social issues and explores them
exhaustively in order to influence change within the society. It is one of the most
prominent sub genres and always has a well-defined point of view.
Nature documentaries offer the audience a closer view of the wonders of Mother
Nature. Producers often go into the wild on explorations in order to uncover rare and
unique specimens of nature. Viewers have the pleasure of observing these (plants,
animals or deep sea creatures etc.) in the natural habitats.
This sub-genre enlightens the audience about important people, places and events of
the past. It reveals important aspects of past occurrences, and gives the audience a
new insight into old matters. Historical Documentary makers often have to be
creative in the use of still pictures and animations because getting live footages of
past events always is a problem or some sort of hindrance. An example of historical
documentary is Rhawn Joseph's Hitler's dairies a documentary about Adolph
Hitler's Third Reich and Word War II.
News documentaries locus their attention on issues in the news by bringing the
audience closer to events through detailed descriptions, important background
information and other items. News documentaries are often made up of
commentaries, interviews and news analysis.
Science documentaries inform its audience about scientific discoveries, mysteries
and breakthroughs. Science documentaries focus on subjects like outer space
explorations, atmospheric conditions of planet earth, the cellular evolution of man
and other scientific topics.
WHY EXPOSITORY DOCUMENTARY?
For the effective dissemination of relevant information in this project, this mode of
documentary is more appropriate because expository documentaries speak directly to
the viewer, often in the form of an authoritative commentary employing voice over
or titles, proposing a strong argument and point of view. These films are rhetorical,
and try to persuade the viewer. (They may use a rich and sonorous male voice or a
sweet irresistible and attractive female voice.) The (voice-of-God) commentary often
sounds 'objective' and omniscient. Images are often not paramount; they exist to
advance the argument. However that is exactly what this documentary intends to do.
To present a clearer picture of the realities of abused children In Nigeria to Nigerians
and the world at large.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRODUCTION
This production aimed at eliciting a social vice that has eaten deep into so many
societies. Child abuse is a social problem which destroys the present and harms the
future; this is so because it denies children the opportunity to be children and to grow
up properly, it deprives them of them of opportunity for education which is necessary
to sustain their future.
This production looked at the influence of the media, most especially the broadcast
medium in controlling and creating awareness among the public on child abuse and
child rights as well as the cases and prevalence of child abuse in the Nigerian society.
This documentary will help journalists as well as media house to come to the
awareness of covering the incidence and cases of child abuse in the Nigerian society
and how much their influence can help curb the child abuse in our society. Children
are regarded as precious gifts from God. It is rather curious and unfortunate that
these same children are subjected to abuses and neglect. Universally, childhood is
recognized as a period of sensitivity requiring special care, attention and protection.
Children’s rights has been a world focus since 1979, when the United Nations
designated that year as the International year of the child and developed a list of
The media otherwise referred to as the fourth estate of the realm implies that the
media just like the government has the sole responsibility of keeping an eye on the
happenings in the society and informing the public with authentic information that
are of public interest and that would help develop both the public and the nation. In
addition to this, Joseph Klapper has a famous conclusion which says that "the mass
media have some kind of effect on some kind of people under some kinds of
conditions with some kinds of consequences". He said this while discussing the mass
media as an instrument of national development, Lupcian Pye has also noted that the
mass media are amplifying factors in the society which informs people about
happenings in and around them. This television documentary aims at performing
some functions of the media with the basic objective of creating more awareness
about a social vice as old as human existence child abuse.
Documentaries give facts and records about various issues and events. Uyo (I987)
illuminates that documentaries intensively and extensively dwell on relevant subjects
using real people, situations and events.
The relationship between the subject of study which is child abuse in Nigeria and the
genre (documentary) being used is the fact that documentary as a medium of
communication has the ability to present tactual evidences thereby bringing to reality
the feelings and emotions attached to the documentary in order to attain the desired
objectives. A television programme on a subject matter like child abuse in Nigeria
could conic in different types of programmes, for instance dramas and the likes but
the need to be able to pass across necessary information without having the access to
influence how the information is being passed across makes the documentary the
most useful programme to use because it has the ability to document reality, in
documentaries, experiences and opinions of real people are being presented for
instance in this production, people from different walks of life are being asked
relevant questions on the issue of child abuse in the Nigerian society. In his article
“the structure and function of communication and society: the communication of
ideas" (Laswell 1948). Humid Laswell, a communication scholar views social
transmission as one of the basic functions of the mass media. McQuail (1990) also
writes that the media are culturally relevant because they constitute a primary source
of images of social reality and the most ubiquitous of shared reality.
Indeed, a brief highlight of some forms of child abuse existing in Nigeria clearly
indicate that the same strategies for tackling the problem of neglect and maltreatment
in developed countries cannot be assumed to be applicable to or even have similar
success rates in a developing country such as Nigeria. This may also be because
children in developing countries, especially the African continent, have been brought
up to be overtly submissive to their parents in everything that includes decisions on
what should be appropriate (whether right or wrong) for their future growth and
development. In other words, unlike in developed countries, where children can
freely call in welfare officials to report cases of abuse or parental neglect without fear
of parental or societal retribution (Theoklitou et al; 2011). However, Nigerian
children are less open about their plight and would gladly endure the trauma of the
abuse female rather than face the social trauma of being labelled by society as those
ungrateful children that sold their parents out to welfare officers.
In other words this production holds a social significance which is changing the
behaviour and attitude of the general public towards an evil plight that has befallen
the Nigerian society; this will in turn foster individual and national development.
Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child or
children. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) define child maltreatment as
any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that
results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur
in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts
with. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse,
psychological or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse (Leeb et al; 2008).
Different jurisdictions have developed their own definitions of what constitutes child
abuse for the purposes of removing a child from his/her family and/or prosecuting a
criminal charge. According to the Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect, child abuse is
"any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in
death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, an act or
failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm" (Herrenkohl, 2005).
According to the National Child Protection Council, 'Prevention of child abuse
involves changing those individual and community attitudes, beliefs and
circumstances which allow the abuse to occur.' The media play a significant role in
forming and influencing people's attitudes and behaviour. Child abuse and the media
drew attention to the essential role of the media in increasing society's awareness of,
and response to, child abuse and neglect. Of particular note was the part played by
news and features that reported on specific child abuse cases, research and
intervention strategies. Such media attention to child abuse has, at times, positively
influenced public, professional and political responses to the circumstances in which
children and young people find themselves. Understanding media influences, and
how to use the media constructively, may thus be an essential tool for those who
advocate for children, young people, and their families (Theoklitou et al; 2011).
In addition to news stories, feature articles, and investigative journalism, sporadic
mass media education and prevention campaigns are launched. These campaigns
usually endeavour to broaden community knowledge of child abuse and neglect, to
influence people's attitudes towards children and young people, and to change
behaviours that contribute to, or precipitate, the problem of child abuse and neglect
in our communities (Barth, 1994).
For several reasons, however, the effectiveness of these campaigns remains
contentious. Primarily, the effectiveness of mass media in the prevention of child
abuse and neglect is debatable. For example, Rayner (1996) argues that 'media
campaigns are bloody expensive' and their impact is difficult to determine.
Expensive media campaigns may be hard to justify in a political climate where
limited funds and resources are provided to address children's needs. Further,
McDevitt (1996) cites O'Keefe and Reed (1990) to note that: 'At best, the media are
"effective at building citizen awareness of an issue" but more complex attitudinal or
behavioural change requires "more direct forms of citizen contact and intervention"’
Others argue, however, that mass media campaigns and media coverage of the abuse
and neglect of children perform an important and significant role in placing issues
such as child abuse on the public and political agenda. Lindsey (1994) maintains that:
'Media has a central role in mediating information and forming public opinion. The
media casts an eye on events that few of us directly experience and renders remote
happenings observable and meaningful.' Mass media present the opportunity to
communicate to large numbers of people and to target particular groups of people. As
observed by Gamble and Gamble (1999), mass communication is significantly
different from other forms of communication. They note that mass communication
has the capacity to reach 'simultaneously' many thousands of people who are not
related to the sender. It depends on 'technical devices' or 'machines' to quickly
distribute messages to diverse audiences often unknown to each other. It is accessible
to many people, but may be avoided. It is orchestrated by specialists whose intent is
to persuade potential audiences of the benefits of their attention. It is 'controlled by
gatekeepers' who censor the content of messages. And finally, unlike one-to-one
communication, it produces only minimal, delayed feedback to its senders (Brown,
However, mass communication simultaneously presents opportunities and
limitations, both of which require consideration when planning mass media assisted
eradication of social problems such as child abuse and neglect. According to
Wellings and Macdowall (2000), drawing on Tones et al. (1990), the strength of the
mass media lies in helping to put issues on the public agenda, in reinforcing local
efforts, in raising consciousness about issues and in conveying simple information.
The limitations of the mass media are that they are less effective in conveying
complex information, in teaching skills, in shifting attitudes and beliefs, and in
changing behaviour in the absence of other enabling factors (Levitan et al; 2003).
Campaigns, and other forms of media education and entertainment (such as
television programs, film and live productions), should be targeted at all families
with a view to encouraging positive attitudes toward children and stopping abuse
before it starts or is even considered (primary prevention). Groups of people
identified as particularly susceptible to abusive behaviour may be targeted
(secondary prevention). Further, a campaign or program may target families in which
abuse has already occurred with the intention of preventing recurrence of the abuse
(tertiary prevention). Thus, a well-focused mass media campaign, educational
program or live-theatre production has the potential to contribute successfully to
community education and the prevention of child abuse and neglect (Messman-
Moore et al; 2003).
Child abuse can take several forms: The four main types are physical, sexual,
psychological, and neglect (Khartri, K. (2004).)
Physical abuse: Physical abuse involves physical aggression directed at a child by
an adult. Most nations with child-abuse laws consider the deliberate infliction of
serious injuries, or actions that place the child at obvious risk of serious injury or
death, to be an abuse of the child. Physical abuse is the intentional or non-accidental
production of a physical injury. Bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones, lacerations,
as well as repeated “mishaps,” and rough treatment that could cause physical injury,
are the results of physical abuse. Beyond this, there is considerable variation. The
distinction between child discipline and abuse is often poorly defined. Cultural
norms about what constitutes abuse vary widely: among professionals as well as the
wider public, people do not agree on what behaviors constitute abuse. Some
professionals claim that cultural norms that sanction physical punishment are one of
the causes of child abuse, and have undertaken campaigns to redefine such norms
Sexual abuse: Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a form of child abuse in which an adult
or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Sexual abuse refers to the
participation of a child in a sexual act aimed toward the physical gratification or the
financial profit of the person committing the act. Forms of CSA include asking or
pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent
exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual
contact with a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's
genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography.
Selling the sexual services of children may be viewed and treated as child abuse with
services offered to the child rather than simple incarceration (Levitan et al; 2003).
Effects of child sexual abuse include guilt and self-blame, flashbacks, nightmares,
insomnia, fear of things associated with the abuse (including objects, smells, places,
doctor's visits, etc.), self-esteem issues, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, addiction,
self-injury, suicidal ideation, somatic complaints, depression, post-traumatic stress
disorder, anxiety, other mental illnesses including borderline personality disorder and
dissociative identity disorder, propensity to re-victimization in adulthood, bulimia
nervosa, physical injury to the child, among other problems (Messman-Moore et al;
In the United States, approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men
were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are
acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most
often brothers, fathers, mothers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other
acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbours; strangers are
the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases. In over one-third of
cases, the perpetrator is also a minor (Brown, 2011).
In a 1999 news story, BBC reported, "Close-knit family life in India masks an
alarming amount of sexual abuse of children and teenage girls by family members, a
new report suggests. Delhi organisation RAHI said 76% of respondents to its survey
had been abused when they were children - 40% of those by a family member”
Psychological/emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is defined as the production of
psychological and social deficits in the growth of a child as a result of behavior such
as loud yelling, coarse and rude attitude, inattention, harsh criticism, and denigration
of the child's personality. Other examples include name-calling, ridicule,
degradation, destruction of personal belongings, torture or killing of a pet, excessive
criticism, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding communication, and
routine labeling or humiliation (Roosa et al; 1999).
Victims of emotional abuse may react by distancing themselves from the abuser,
internalizing the abusive words, or fighting back by insulting the abuser. Emotional
abuse can result in abnormal or disrupted attachment development, a tendency for
victims to blame themselves (self-blame) for the abuse, learned helplessness, and
overly passive behavior (Durrant, 1996).
Neglect: Child neglect is the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility
for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to
the degree that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.
Neglect is also a lack of attention from the people surrounding a child, and the non-
provision of the relevant and adequate necessities for the child's survival, which
would be a lacking in attention, love, and nurture. Some of the observable signs in a
neglected child include: the child is frequently absent from school, begs or steals
food or money, lacks needed medical and dental care, is consistently dirty, lacks
sufficient clothing for the weather (Roosa et al; 1999).
Neglected children may experience delays in physical and psychosocial
development, possibly resulting in psychopathology and impaired
neuropsychological functions including executive function, attention, processing
speed, language, memory and social skills. Researchers investigating maltreated
children have repeatedly found that neglected children in foster and adoptive
populations manifest different emotional and behavioral reactions to regain lost or
secure relationships and are frequently reported to have disorganized attachments and
a need to control their environment. Such children are not likely to view caregivers
as being a source of safety, and instead typically show an increase in aggressive and
hyperactive behaviors which may disrupt healthy or secure attachment with their
adopted parents. These children have apparently learned to adapt to an abusive and
inconsistent caregiver by becoming cautiously self-reliant, and are often described as
glib, manipulative and disingenuous in their interactions with others as they move
through childhood (Finkelhor et al; 2009). Children who are victims of neglect have
a more difficult time forming and maintaining relationships, such as romantic or
friendship, later in life due to the lack of attachment they had in their earlier stages of
CAUSES OF CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes. Understanding the
causes of abuse is crucial to addressing the problem of child abuse. Parents who
physically abuse their spouses are more likely than others to physically abuse their
children. However, it is impossible to know whether marital strife is a cause of child
abuse, or if both the marital strife and the abuse are caused by tendencies in the
abuser. This commonly used term refers to the process of parents' setting
expectations for their child that are clearly beyond the child's capability. When
parents' expectations are particularly deviant (e.g., preschool children who are
expected to be totally responsible for self-care or provision of nurturance to parents)
the resulting frustration caused by the child's non-compliance is believed to function
as a contributory if not necessary cause of child abuse (Brown, 2011).
Children resulting from unintended pregnancies are more likely to be abused or
neglected. Neglect is by far the most common form of child abuse, accounting for
more than 78% of all cases. In addition, unintended pregnancies are more likely than
intended pregnancies to be associated with abusive relationships, and there is an
increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy. They also result in poorer
maternal mental health, and lower mother-child relationship quality (Herrenkohl,
Substance abuse can be a major contributing factor to child abuse. One U.S. study
found that parents with documented substance abuse, most commonly alcohol,
cocaine, and heroin, were much more likely to mistreat their children, and were also
much more likely to reject court-ordered services and treatments. Another study
found that over two-thirds of cases of child maltreatment involved parents with
substance abuse problems. This study specifically found relationships between
alcohol and physical abuse, and between cocaine and sexual abuse. Although the
abuse survivor does not always realise the abuse is wrong, the internal confusion can
lead to chaos. Inner anger turns to outer frustration. Once aged 17/18, drink and
drugs are used to numb the hurt feelings, nightmares and daytime flashbacks.
Acquisitive crimes to pay for the chemicals are inevitable if the survivor is unable to
find employment (Levitan et al; 2003).
A 2010 article in the BBC reports that thousands of African children have been
abandoned, tortured and murdered because they are believed to be witches.
Unemployment and financial difficulties are associated with increased rates of child
abuse. In 2009 CBS News reported that child abuse in the United States had
increased during the economic recession. It gave the example of a father who had
never been the primary care-taker of the children. Now that the father was in that
role, the children began to come in with injuries (Golden and Prather, 2009).
A 1988 study of child murders in the US found that children are 100 times more
often killed by a "non-biological parent (e.g. step-parent, co-habitee or
boyfriend/girlfriend of a biological parent)" than by a biological parent. An
evolutionary psychology explanation for this is that using resources in order to take
care of another person's biological child is likely not a good strategy for increasing
reproductive success. More generally, stepchildren have a much higher risk of being
abused which is sometimes referred to as the Cinderella effect. The Cinderella Effect
is often regarded as one of the great successes of Evo Psych research. It attempts to
explain the observation that parents are more likely to kill their stepchildren than
their biological children using evolutionary logic - as described by Daly and Wilson:
"research concerning animal social behaviour provide a rationale for expecting
parents to be discriminative in their care and affection, and more specifically, to
discriminate in favor of their own young" (Finkelhor et al; 2009).
Psychologists conducted a study in the United States in 2010 which examined over
200 regular church attendees from eleven different denominations of Christianity,
most of whom were educated, upper-middle class White Americans, found that
extrinsic religious orientation was associated with a greater risk of physical child
abuse. Those with a more extrinsic religious orientation who also adhered to greater
social conformity were particularly more likely to share characteristics with
physically abusive subjects. Subjects who adhered to Biblical literalism exhibited a
higher potential of physical child abuse. Those who had a more intrinsic religious
orientation were not found to be at a greater risk of child abuse, although they
sometimes exhibited greater social conformity or a greater propensity for holding
literal interpretations of the Bible. Approximately 85% of the study's subjects were
parents (Finkelhor et al; 2009).
EFFECTS OF CHILD ABUSE
There are strong associations between exposure to child abuse in all its forms and
higher rates of many chronic conditions. In the United States, the strongest evidence
comes from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) series of studies which
show correlations between exposure to abuse or neglect and higher rates in adulthood
of chronic conditions, high-risk health behaviors and shortened lifespan. A big
concern with researchers is the degree to which maltreated children grow up to be
maltreating adults or if they exhibit social signs of abuse or neglect. Studies show
that 90 percent of maltreating adults were maltreated as children in their life (Martin
et al; 1993). When children were two, studies show that 16 percent of 267 high-risk
mothers mistreated their own children, to different effects. The first two years of a
child's life is when parents invest the least in their children. Almost 7 million
American infants go to child care services, like day care, and a majority of that care
is poor. Serious consequences occur when young children are maltreated, including
developmental issues. 16 percent of those 267 high risk mothers mistreat their two
year old children in different ways. 55 percent of the children experienced physical
abuse, 55 percent experienced neglect, 43 percent experienced hostile and rejecting
parenting, and 43 percent ex Children who have a history of neglect or physical
abuse are at risk of developing psychiatric problems, or a disorganized attachment
style. Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental
problems, including dissociative symptoms, as well as anxiety, depressive, and
acting out symptoms (Finkelhor et al; 2009). A study by Dante Cicchetti found that
80% of abused and maltreated infants exhibited symptoms of disorganized
attachment. When some of these children become parents, especially if they suffer
from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative symptoms, and other
sequelae of child abuse, they may encounter difficulty when faced with their infant
and young children's needs and normative distress, which may in turn lead to adverse
consequences for their child's social-emotional development. Despite these potential
difficulties, psychosocial intervention can be effective, at least in some cases, in
changing the ways maltreated parents think about their young children (Messman-
Moore et al; 2003).
Victims of childhood abuse, it is claimed, also suffer from different types of physical
health problems later in life. Some reportedly suffer from some type of chronic head,
abdominal, pelvic, or muscular pain with no identifiable reason. Even though the
majority of childhood abuse victims know or believe that their abuse is, or can be,
the cause of different health problems in their adult life, for the great majority their
abuse was not directly associated with those problems, indicating that sufferers were
most likely diagnosed with other possible causes for their health problems, instead of
their childhood abuse. One long-term study found that up to 80% of abused people
had at least one psychiatric disorder at age twenty-one, with problems including
depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. One Canadian hospital
found that between 36% and 76% of women mental health outpatients had been
abused, same for 58% of women and 23% of men schizophrenic in-patients leading
to unavailable parenting (Shumba and Abosi, 2011).
Children who are physically abused are likely to receive bone fractures, particularly
rib fractures, and may have a higher risk of developing cancer. Children who
experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as juveniles,
28% more likely to be arrested as adults, and 30% more likely to commit violent
crime. The immediate physical effects of abuse or neglect can be relatively minor
(bruises or cuts) or severe (broken bones, hemorrhage, or even death). In some cases
the physical effects are temporary; however, the pain and suffering they cause a child
should not be discounted. Meanwhile, the long-term impact of child abuse and
neglect on physical health is just beginning to be explored (Theoklitou et al; 2011).
IMAGES OF CHILDREN IN THE SOCIETY AND THE MEDIA
Journalists willing to advocate for children and young people face the challenge of
counterbalancing negative images or ‘demonization’ of children and, particularly, of
adolescents, in print, television and film. Starkly contrasting with once popular views
of childhood as a time of innocence, less than positive images of children and young
people in the media may place obstacles in the path of attempts to prevent their abuse
and neglect (Roach, 2011).
It is notable that child abuse media prevention campaigns rarely, if ever, focus on the
maltreatment of adolescents (rather attention is given to societal problems, perhaps
stemming from child abuse, such as drug use, youth suicide and chroming. Similarly,
as observed by Mendes (2000), drawing on Vinson (1987), Aldridge (1994) and
Wilczynski and Sinclair (1999): 'Structural disadvantages contributing to child abuse
and neglect such as poverty, unemployment, and gender or race-based discrimination
are rendered invisible in the media.’ A comparison of the media coverage of three
child murder cases - two in the United Kingdom and one in Australia - highlights
significantly different images of children created, or reinforced, by media comment
(Theoklitou et al; 2011).
Alder and Polk (2001) observe the language used and attitudes portrayed in the
media coverage. In 1968, 11-yearold Mary Bell murdered two boys, aged three and
four in the UK. Twenty-five years later, in1993, two ten-year-old boys murdered
two-year-old Jamie Bulger in the UK, and in Australia in 1998, a ten-year-old boy
was charged with drowning a six-year-old playmate (Rodriguez et al; 2010).
According to Alder and Polk (2001), while media commentary in the Mary Bell case
expressed 'concern for the offender' who was perceived by many as the 'surviving
child of this tragedy', the latter two cases predominantly yielded media commentary
that described the child offenders as 'evil', callous and reckless. Alder and Polk
(2001) contend that: 'What may have changed in the years since the Bell case is the
gradual evolution of an internationalised media, capable of the instantaneous transfer
of 'infotainment' around the globe… These outlets have a special appetite for the
bizarre and unusual.' Franklin and Horwath (1996) further observe a concerning
change in society's perception of children which, as Tomison (1997) has noted,
extends to adolescents. Less often perceived as 'innocent' and 'innately good', it
seems a child or young person may now be portrayed as a 'powerful, destructive
human being' (Levitan et al; 2003).
Moreover, as Tomison (1997) claims, perceiving children as 'powerful' and 'evil'
beings may 'dehumanise' children and serve to justify child abuse. He further
contends that the negative portrayal of children in the media may result in victims of
abuse blaming themselves for their abuse. Victims may be led to believe that they
deserved the assaults perpetrated against them, and thus accept their abuse as
justified. Further, Tomison (1997) cites Winn (1993) and Garbarino (1992) to note
that these negative images of children may indeed be magnified once the child
becomes an adolescent. Negative stereotypes of young people, he contends, may
contribute to the incidence of adolescent maltreatment, exacerbating 'the problems of
troubled youth in troubled families, providing a justification for unresponsive
parenting and increasing the probability of serious family conflict' (Levitan et al;
MEDIA INFLUENCE ON CHILDREN AND CHILD'S RIGHTS
The impact of media advertising on children and adolescents is well documented, as
is concern about some aspects of the media's powerful influence on children's
attitudes and behaviours. Television may be 'a more powerful socialisation agent
than peers and teachers'. As acknowledged in a major New Zealand newspaper, it is
notable that: 'The media promote violence as an effective way of dealing with
conflict through television, films, videos, and interactive video games' (Sebre et al;
In evidence given to the Victorian Government Inquiry into the Effects of Television
and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria, Michael Carr-Gregg (2000)
further endorses this view: 'Contrary to some claims, many people in the medical,
public health, and scientific communities are in agreement that the relationship
between television violence and aggression and violence in young people does exist.
Exhaustive reviews of the evidence accumulated over 40 years - and we are talking
about 3000 different studies - have led researchers to conclude unequivocally that
mass media significantly contributes to the aggressive behaviour and attitudes of
many children, adolescents, and, of course, adults’ (Lau et al; 2006).
However, this power of the media to negatively influence children's attitudes and
behaviours may be used to impact positively on the lives of children and adolescents.
According to the Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children
and Families in Victoria (2000), 'Qualitative evidence suggests that quality children's
television can enhance child development by providing positive role models of
cooperation and collaboration as a responsible way of acting in the world’ (Brown,
2011). Indeed, the constructive use of mass media can assist in teaching children and
young people socially desirable ways of dealing with conflict, knowledge of their
rights to integrity and protection from harm, healthy eating habits and lifestyles, and
ways to assert themselves and their rights in a positive, acceptable manner.
As noted in the Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children
and Families in Victoria (2000), evaluations of educational television programs,
designed either for pre-schoolers or for older children, have suggested their
effectiveness in 'heightening a range of social behaviours', diminishing 'the effects of
stereotyping', increasing 'preparedness for adolescence' (Singer and Singer 1994),
and stimulating the discussion of 'solutions to general social issues'. Research
suggests that, at least in the short term, television viewing of such programs may
increase children's and young people's knowledge and positively change attitudes and
behaviours. Unfortunately, longitudinal studies exploring sustained effects are rare
and thus inconclusive (Middlebrooks and Audage, 2008).
The Inquiry into the Effects of Television and Multimedia on Children and Families
in Victoria (2000) further notes that television 'is one of the most popular forms of
mass communication and entertainment in Australia has been under-utilised as an
educative tool', and suggests that perhaps narrow vision has meant that the deliberate
use of television simultaneously to entertain and educate has not been fully
recognised. Despite this, Postman (1994) has argued that television is rapidly
becoming 'the first curriculum', with educational institutions such as schools
following behind (Lau et al; 2006).
Mass media education and prevention campaigns may be designed to target children
and young people, providing them with useful information and alerting them to
avenues for further information, help and support. Campaigns can also use regular
television programs for children. Drawing on the research of Baran, Chase and
Courtright (1979) and Forge and Phemister (1987), the Inquiry into the Effects of
Television and Multimedia on Children and Families in Victoria (2000) states:
'Children have shown cooperative behaviour following one observation of just one
episode of positive social behaviour in a commercial television drama and cartoons
with a positive social message have produced positive behaviours in pre-schoolers.
Discussions of complex issues and approaches to conflict resolution have also been
successfully utilised in Australian drama.' Campaign organisers can approach
producers of popular children's television requesting that they incorporate messages,
such as a child's right to physical integrity and to protection from harm, and depict
desired protective behaviours, such as seeking help if a child feels threatened or
unsafe (Theoklitou et al; 2011).
Further, campaigns may be designed to give children and young people an
opportunity to express their views on issues that affect them, specifically targeting
adult audiences that habitually ignore the views and experiences of children and
young people. Research on the physical punishment of children (Saunders, in
progress) suggests, for example, that adults may be interested to hear children's
views on the issue of physical discipline, and children interviewed in the research
were keen for adults to hear their views. To date, however, the media rarely, if ever,
consults children and takes their views into account before reporting on the physical
punishment of children. Indeed, the media often trivialises the issue of physical
punishment (Finkelhor et al; 2009).
Tomison (1996) has noted that The United Kingdom Commission of Inquiry into the
Prevention of Child Abuse made a recommendation that the media 'take a more
balanced and sympathetic view of children'. Tomison (1997) highlights that: 'In line
with a belief in the importance of 'listening to children', the Commission felt that the
media should take the views of children into account when presenting on an issue in
which children have some interest. The Commission (1996) recommended that the
media should have an obligation to consider a child's best interest in stories in which
children feature, and that the failure to do so would constitute grounds for a
complaint to a relevant authority’ (Roach, 2011).
PROMINENT CASES OF CHILD ABUSE IN NIGERIA
The case of Hauwa Abubakar
A famous ruling by the high court of Kaduna upheld the right of a father to
'compel his virgin daughter into marriage without her consent even, though she
had not obtained puberty’. Supposedly in line with the Maliki School of
Islamic law this had been invoked by the lower court.
One such virgin is Hauwa Abubakar whose gruesome murder made headlines in
1987. At the age of nine her father married her off to one Mallam Shehu Garba
Kiruwa, a 40 year old cattle dealer to whom he owed money. For two years she
refused to go and live with her putative husband, but she was taken to his house
when she began to menstruate at the age of twelve, still not content to accept
her lot ran away twice and was forcibly returned to Mallam Shehu but on the
third one Mallam Shehu pinned her down and chopped her legs off with a
poisoned cutlass resulting in her death. The enduing public, outcry forced the
then military administrator of Bauchi state to issue a decree empowering the
government to prosecute any parent who withdrew their daughter' from school In
order to marry her off. (Children & Women Rights in Nigeria; A wake up call,
THE CASE OF CHILDREN IN AKWA IBOM STATE
The year 2008 will be remembered in the Nigeria’s biblical calendar as the year
when the priests of Pentecostalism sacrificed thousands of children to a
carnivorous god. Innocent children of Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria were
falsely accused of being witches and wizards and as a result were
sacrificed to a carnivorous god by some priests in the state. It is so sad that this
is what it is to be child in some parts of Nigeria in the 21st
Right in the face of their parents, they were taken away and their innocent lives
were wasted all in the name of some ridiculous norms of a particular part of the
country. Relief came the way of children in Akwa Ibom stale who have been
abuse when the Akwa Ibom Stale House of Assembly passed the Child Rights
Law, which makes it an offence to abuse children in any form. Meanwhile, the
self-styled Bishop Ulup-Ayah, who claimed to have killed 110 child-witches &
wizards, was arraigned in court for offences, which include murder amongst
others (British channel 4, Friday January 02. 2009, 7 O'clock news).
IMPACT OF MEDIA CAMPAIGNS ON VICTIMS OF CHILD ABUSE
The impact of media campaigns on the lives of victims is sometimes reported in print
media stories about them. Writing about Annie, a victim of sexual assault by her
stepfather, Dixon (1993) reported how Annie remembered her reaction as a child to
an advertisement about sexual abuse: 'Her grandmother caught the fleeting look of
despair and pain in her face. Her grandmother [who had previously had unconfirmed
suspicions] asked [Annie] again about her stepfather. Annie says she burst into tears’
(Finkelhor et al; 2009).
In the same year, the Sydney Morning Herald (1993) published a piece about another
victim of sexual abuse, assaulted by her stepfather. It was reported that shortly before
driving over him with her car, causing long-term injuries, the victim saw 'a televised
community announcement about standing up against child abuse'. As in many cases
of incest, the victim's stepfather had been released from prison after serving a
sentence which was perceived by his victim as not fitting the crime she had suffered
(Roosa et al; 1999).
Cathy Freeman, Derryn Hinch, Angry Anderson, Debra Byrne, Oprah Winfrey,
Roseanne Barr and Roger Moore are a few of the celebrities who have exposed their
own experiences of child sexual abuse through the media. Kissane quoted Joe Tucci,
Executive Director of Australians Against Child Abuse, an agency that offers
counselling to abused children, who commented on the possible effect of celebrity
disclosures through the media: 'The most important result of someone like Cathy
Freeman speaking out is that it helps lessen the shame for people who come after her.
It hooks into exactly what the kids are struggling with. They say, 'Look at the
courage it took them to come out and talk about it; I'm courageous, I did a similar
thing to Cathy Freeman and Angry Anderson.' It gives them hope about success that
they, too, will recover from the abuse.' The impact of a media campaign may be
dramatic and far-reaching as it is occurring, and perhaps for a short time afterwards.
However, campaigns drawing attention to child abuse will be more effective if they
are ongoing. Mass media campaigns have the potential to confront society with the
horrific nature of much child abuse. Such campaigns can also educate the public
about the many, often co-existing, forms of abuse suffered by children (Barth, 1994).
They can also draw attention to the status of children in society, highlighting
children's dependency and vulnerability to abuse and neglect (Herrenkohl, 2005).
Mass media education and prevention campaigns present a viable means for
governments to be seen to be doing something in relation to the problem of child
abuse and neglect. Campaigns may assist not only in the prevention of immediate
harm to children and young people but also in allaying the long-term social and
economic consequences of child maltreatment. Campaigns must, of course, be
backed by supportive services for children, young people and their families
MASS MEDIA EDUCATION AND PREVENTION CAMPAIGNS
Drawing on the research of Nielson (1998) and the Federation of Australian
Commercial Television Stations (1995), Sanders, Montgomery and Brechman-
Toussaint (2000) note that: Australian adults spend about three hours per day
watching television; 61 per cent of Australian adults choose television viewing to
stay informed and to access news; and 79.65 per cent of Australian adults consider
themselves to be most influenced by television advertising (Cohn, 2011).
Clearly, the perceived power of the media, as exemplified in this case, may be used
in child abuse prevention campaigns. Krugman (1996) notes that in 1990, faced with
what they perceived to be a national emergency, the United States Advisory Board
on Child Abuse and Neglect '. called on the media to avoid raising public awareness
that child abuse exists, and rather help the public understand the complexity of the
problem and how it could be prevented' (Dolezal et al; 2009).
This view appears to be turning a blind eye to the reality of child abuse and neglect.
Importantly, the literature documenting past and present media campaigns
consistently stresses a dual role for the media - to portray the existence of child abuse
and to present ways of addressing and preventing it: 'Media prevention needs to
provide information about both the problem behaviour and how to deal with it
effectively'. The success of a child abuse education and prevention campaign will be
influenced by available funding, existing support services, and other educational
activities, such as prevention programs in schools. Writing about the impact of a
media campaign in the United States designed to increase public action to help
maltreated children in addictive families, Andrews, McLeese and Currant (1995)
recommended that public awareness about effective ways to help is likely to lead to
citizen action. Too often, media messages focus on the nature and extent of the
problem without suggesting what can be done to change it. The services system
needs to be prepared for the public's response to a media message. Increasing public
awareness raises demands for assistance and information (Lyons-Ruth and Jacobvitz,
Press releases are one of the most important primary sources of media news stories.
Journalists spend much of their time 'rewriting' press releases and creating stories
from written information provided to them by individuals, groups, and organisations.
Many news stories are derived from 'facts created for journalists by individuals and
bureaucracies'. Thus, information provided to media outlets that sheds light on an
issue such as child abuse, may occur either in an organised manner through well-
researched and planned mass media education and prevention campaigns, or through
press releases, opinion pieces, and letters to newspapers focussing on current cases or
significant issues or events. There are abundant opportunities to engage in valuable
public information, community education and prevention activities through the print
and broadcast media (Dolezal et al; 2009).
'Advocacy journalists' can be a powerful ally. The media 'can sway hearts and minds
and define center stage'. The media can bring pressure to bear on governments.
Media coverage of a particular issue may assist in initiating or consolidating
attitudinal and behavioural change. Mere coverage of issues affecting children places
journalists in the role of advocate' (Dolezal et al; 2009).
CHILD RIGHTS AND THE MEDIA: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
In Africa, the Organisation of Africa Unity (now African Union) at its Heads of State
Summit in Addis Ababa in 1990 adopted a Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the
African Child. The charter which derives from the United Nations Convention takes
cognisance of the socio-cultural peculiarities of the African Child. The African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) notes: That the situation of
most African Children, remains critical due to the unique factors of their socio-
economic, cultural, traditional and developmental circumstances, natural disasters,
armed conflicts, exploitation and hunger and on account of the child’s physical and
mental immaturity, he/she needs special safeguards and care. To further the
mobilization of attention on the African Child, Nigeria and the Rights of the Child
(1999) reports that: The Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) subsequently
proclaimed in Abuja 1991, the 1990s as the “Decade of the Africa Child” and set
June 16 of every year as the “Day of the African Child” (Schechter et al; 2007). The
documents also reports that every child must be protected against all forms of
exploitation, indecent or degrading treatment including child labour, abuse and
torture, sexual exploitation, sale, abduction and drug abuse. It goes without saying
that every nation who is a signatory to the convention is expected to make concerted
effort at protecting children against all forms of abuses, through the enforcement of
relevant instruments. Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria provides for the right of every individual to dignity of his/her person. This
section further prohibits “all forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, and
slavery, forced or compulsory labour”. In other words, it ensures the child’s right to
dignity of his/her person. The United nations convention on the Rights of the Child
guarantees children certain rights including the right to be heard in matters that affect
them and to share information freely (Jonyniene & Samuelsson, 1999) Many
countries, including Nigeria have domesticated the Conventions by passing it into
law, like the Nigerian Child right Act of 2003.Accordingly, children should not be
subjected to any form of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, forced or
compulsory labour (Kemp et al; 2008). Despite these provisions in the United
Nations Convention and the Nigerian Constitution, children in Nigeria suffer cruelty,
abuses, inhuman and degrading treatment, child labour and some are forced into
These saddening experiences have strong emotional impact on the victim. Often
times, abused and neglected children are overwhelmed and shattered. This usually
results in emotional imbalance which eventually manifest in delinquency and
deviance. In Nigeria, for instance, youth crime and breeding of street children are
direct consequences of child abuse and neglect. But a situation where the government
ratifies international conventions it cannot enforce locally is intolerable. A situation
where the Child Rights Bill is passed and mere lip-service is paid to its
implementation amounts to hypocrisy and apathy as far as issues of child abuse and
neglect is concerned. Ademokun (2002) observed that “It is common knowledge that
children in Nigeria are bludgeoned into child labour and prostitution by highly placed
persons under the guise of philanthropy.” Given these circumstances, the average
Nigerian does not seem to be aware of the provisions of the Child Rights Bill
needless to say the instruments before it (Dolezal et al; 2009). It is even more
worrisome in the light of the fact that most forms of youth violence, unrest, riots are
linked with child abuse and neglect. The media are undoubtedly persuasive
instruments in man’s struggle for self-liberation and development. In line with this,
Steinberg (1972) advanced that the mass media select and bring to waiting multitudes
a constant flow of detail related to those fruitful dialogues of differences and
concordance upon which free societies thrive.
With respect to child rights issue, the media most especially television medium
coverage has been used as weapon of awareness creation. In this regard, The United
Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) and Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) have produced “I Need to Know” a drama serial which is shown
weekly on most TV stations in Nigeria. In Oredo local government area of Edo State
for example, the programme is a regular feature on Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS),
Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Independent Television (ITV). It addresses
child rights, abuse, and welfare and issues. Similarly, Women Trafficking and Child
Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), at the instance of Abubakar the wife of
Atiku Abubakar former Vice President in 2002 bankrolled the production of “Izozo”
a drama serial on national television. This programme which shows weekly (NTA
network service) is mainly on child labour and its evils. These T.V programmes,
among many others, combine with a number of print media coverage are geared
towards raising awareness on child rights, the evils of child abuse as well as to call
on the public to debate these issues (Dolezal et al; 2009).
Article 17of the Convention on the right of the child specifies the role the media play
in the promotion and protection of Children’s rights (UNICEF 2002:65-66). The
Committee on the Rights of the Child (1996) believes that the media –both written
and audio-visual are highly important in effort to make reality the principles and
standards of the Convention. The media can play a pivotal role in monitoring the
actual implementation of the rights of the child.
The media are powerful because they penetrate every segment of modern-day society
and effectively influence how people view themselves, their neighbours, their
communities and their world. Media representation are the primary source of
information on social problems for many people (Hutson and Liddiard, 1994). Maley
(2000:37) for instance, notes that: “In social and cultural matters, the various media
provide the main platform of debate and their choice of subjects, participants and
opinion shape the agenda and much of its content.” The media play a significant role
in forming and influencing people’s attitude and behaviour (Brawley, 1995).
Goddard and Saunders (2001), draw attention to the essential role of the media in
increasing the society’s awareness of, and response to, child abuse and neglect. News
and features could be used to report child abuse cases, research and intervention
strategies. Such media attention to child abuse can positively influence public
opinion, professional and political responses to the circumstances in which children
and young people find themselves. Ericson Baranek and chan (1987:3) observe that
journalist play a major role in constructing what is considered “deviant” in our
society and, therefore, what is “normal”. Journalist do not merely reflect the work of
others who define deviance and attempt to control it, but are themselves in some
ways agents of social control; they are “a kind of deviance defining elite” who
articulate the “proper bounds of behaviour” in our society.
In addition to news stories, feature articles and investigative journalism, sporadic
mass media education and prevention campaigns could be launched. These
campaigns will broaden community’s knowledge of child abuse and neglect,
influence people’s attitude towards children and young people and change
behaviours that contribute to, or precipitate the problem of child abuse and neglect in
Children rights are claims that all children have for survival, development, protection
and participation. The Child Development Department of the Ministry of Women
Affairs and Youth Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1995:5), lists the basic
principles of Children’s rights:
• Every child has the right to life and be allowed to survive and develop.
• Every Child is entitled to a name, family and nationality.
• Every child is free to belong to any association or assembly according to the law.
• Every child has the right to express opinions and freely communicate them on any
issue subject to restriction under the law.
• Every child is entitled to protection from any act that interferes with his or her
privacy, honour and reputation.
• Every child is entitled to adequate rest, recreation (leisure and play) according to his
her age and culture.
• Every child (male & female) is entitled to receive compulsory basic education and
equal opportunity for higher education depending on individual ability.
• Every child is entitled to good health, protection from illness and proper medical
attention for survival, personal growth and development.
• Every child must be protected from indecent and inhuman treatment through sexual
exploitation, drug abuse, child labour, torture, maltreatment and neglect.
• No child should suffer any discrimination irrespective of ethnic, origin, birth, colour,
sex, language, religion, political and social beliefs, status or disability.
Hammarberg (1996) outlines the specific functions that the media can perform in
realization of the requirements of the Convention on the right of the child as follows:
TO MONITOR ABUSES-AND PROGRESS
It is hoped that violations of the children’s right be reported in the media. Such
scrutiny would probably be more effective than the international procedure
prescribed by the convention which requires the government itself to report to the
monitoring committee on steps for implementation. However the media could also
draw from the official documentation in their reporting. The convention could be
seen as the yardstick against which reality could be measured.
TO RESPECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE CHILD
One of the important aspects of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that it
presents a truly modern attitude towards children themselves. It recognizes the
vulnerability of Children in certain circumstances but also their capacity and strength
for development. A major emphasis in the convention is that each child is unique. All
this can be undermined through negative stereotyping. Likewise, the media should be
careful not to violate the integrity of individual children in their reporting on, for
instance, crime and sexual abuse. The convention specifically protects the individual
child from violations of his or her privacy, honour and reputation.
TO ALLOW CHILDREN PARTICIPATE IN THE MEDIA
One of the principles of the convention is that the views of children can be heard and
given due respect. This is also reflected in articles about freedom of expression,
thought, conscience and religion. It is the spirit of the provisions that children should
not only be able to consume information material but also to participate themselves
in the media. The idea is that children, in fact should be able to express themselves
and that their views be sought.
TO PROTECT CHILDREN AGAINST HARMFUL INFLUENCES THROUGH
While the convention requests access for children to the media, it also reflects
concern about the risk if children being harmed by some reports and information
material. The idea is that the integrity of the child should be respected in the
reporting. Another article says that the state should encourage guidelines to protect
children at large from injurious media output, for instance certain violent and
THEORETICAL FRAME WORK
The relevant theories used for this production is the Social responsibility theory. This
theory provided explanation about the project topic and will provide a deep insight on
the role of the broadcast media in a democratic setting like our Country Nigeria.
The Social Responsibility Theory, first developed in the 1940s by Robert Maynard
Hutchins, is still a guiding principle for the media today.
To combat the pressures that threatened freedom of the press, this theory was first
introduced in 1947 and was recommended by the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of
the Press. It stated that the media should serve the public, and in order to do so, should
remain free of government interference. It defined guidelines that the media should
follow in order to fulfil its obligation of serving the public.
According to Middleton (2009:7) the social responsibility very much fall upon the
reporters and producers of media, the media and journalists are expected to be
advocates for social issues and reforms and matters of public interest. The media has it
as an obligation to use its powerful position to ensure appropriate delivery of
information that are of public interest to audiences.
In both the Hutchins Commission report and the theory put forth by Siebert et al., the
concept of public interest, albeit inexplicitly, lies at the heart of the definition of social
responsibility. This highlights the crucial role of the communications sector in shaping
societal processes: the formation of public opinion and civil society movements, social
and political development patterns, including more tangible processes such as the
unfurling of elections campaigns and their outcome. (Middleton, 2009).
It’s a role of the media to tell or inform the public all about Child abuse and how it
constitutes to the underdevelopment of the society when engaged in by the perpetrators.
The media should owe it a duty to air child abuse related matter until it is completely
lowered to a zero-level in Nigeria.
The production procedure refers to the stages (phases) required to complete a media
product, from the idea to the final master copy. The process can apply to any type of
media production including film, video, television and audio recording. The stages in
each medium vary; for example, there is obviously no storyboard in an audio recording.
However the same general concepts work for any medium. There are generally three
main stages of television production: pre-production, production and post-production.
In each stage, different departments have different tasks. Organizing and coordinating
each element of the show's production and keeping them all in sync on a timeline is not
necessarily an easy task for a producer.
Pre-production is the first stage of television production. For this documentary, this was
the stage when scripts was written, and storyboard developed. After writing the script
he producer carried out the necessary research, and budgeting. This was more or less
the planning stage, making sure that all the elements are in place for production and
post-production. A timeline was established which was used in coordinating the
different elements of both production and post-production to ensure the most efficient
Production is the actual taping of the TV show or shoot. The crew are assembled, and
the director will orchestrate the taping and work to shoot as quickly as possible. In the
course of this production, some took place in the studio, and some other outdoor. The
Voice over for the documentary which was scripted at the pre-production stage was also
voiced. Location shooting is almost always more work, as production equipment needs
to be brought to the location along with the cast and crew. Most TV shows prefer to use
established sets since this makes the production process easier.
Post-production can occur after production or simultaneously during production,
depending on the planned approach for workflow. The Post-production for this
documentary project involved capturing and transfer of the footages from the camera to
the computer, video editing, titling, sound/ voice over editing and mixing, dubbing,
visual effects and processing. This process can occur simultaneously with production.
As soon as raw footage is taken, the post-production team can begin to process and edit
it. Depending on the nature of the show, post production can be tedious. There may be
hours of footage to go through. If any visual effects or computer-generated graphics
(CGI) are needed, they can slow the process down significantly. After this the final
copy of the show is ready which will be duplicated or copied so the staff can send it to
stations or affiliates. The show is packaged with cover art and sent out to distributors so
that it is available to a wide viewing audience.
CHALLENGES AND LIMITATION
During the course of this Production, few challenges were encountered but not up to
what I had envisaged as at the commencement. Being a broadcast major and a
beneficiary of the World Bank STEP-B project, which included training and access to
modern Technology the production process went smoothly with little or no challenges.
In the aspect of finance, the production gulped a little in the area of logistics and post
production. The logistics included transportation and stipend allotted to assistants who
helped in the course of production.
Doing a documentary production can be likened to a professional project due to its
intricacies. Timing was a huge challenge as I had to book days for the interview with
my interviewee which was sometimes rescheduled at the last minute due to the
interviewee’s schedule. Editing the documentary was also time taking as I encountered
several days of sleepless night during the course of editing.
ABUSE: to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to speak insultingly, harshly,
and unjustly to or about; revile, malign etc.
Behaviour: Manner of acting or the reaction of a person who has been abused.
Broadcast Media: The channel of communication i.e. Television and Radio that reach
large numbers of people at the same time.
Campaigns: Campaign is a series of planned activities or programme with specific
aims or objectives to change people’s behaviour which is to be carried out within a
CURB: anything that restrains or control; a restrain; check
LABOUR: Productive activity, especially for the sake of economic gain
MUTILATION: To injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably
TRAFFICKING: Trade in some specific commodity or service, often of an illegal
INFLUENCE: The capacity or power of person or things to be a compelling force on
or produce effects on the actions, behaviour, opinion, and so on.
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