Aggression and violence against children does not end at sexual assault; it also involves every form of physical, sexual, emotional and mental abuse. Child exploitation, maltreatment, trafficking and neglect are also forms of aggression and violence towards children.
According to a UNICEF survey report on Ending violence against children in Nigeria, conducted in 2014, “six out of every ten children in the country suffer one or more forms of physical, sexual or emotional violence before they reach 18. More than 70 per cent experience this violence repeatedly.”
“One out of two suffer physical violence, such as punching, kicking, whipping, burning, choking, trying to drown, threatening or hitting with a weapon; one in four girls and one in ten boys have experienced sexual violence; one in five boys and one in six girls suffer emotional violence.”
The Nigeria space is filled with stories of children who have been abandoned or experienced aggression from adults because they were thought to be possessed by a spirit or external force.
From time to time, images of emaciated children said to have been found out and released after a period of torturous confinement by their parent or guardians make it to the internet.
About a week ago, the news of a guardian who had tied up a child left in her care, doused in kerosene and set her ablaze on the allegations of witchcraft took the social media space. When she was questioned on the assault, she had claimed she did not know what came over her.
Although the child survived the onslaught, it is not farfetched that the physical and mental effects of this assault will forever trail the poor child, as with many children that continue to suffer violence and aggression in the hands of adults.
IMPACTS OF VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION ON CHILDREN
The impacts of violence against children last well into adulthood. A study by Susan Hillis, James Mercy, Adaugo Amobi and Howard Kress in 2016 showed evidence that pointed to childhood violence as a major cause of mortality in adulthood. Violence against children can also lead to:
- Severe injuries
- Health issues
- Behavioural and psychological problems
- Substance abuse
- Risk of cardiovascular diseases
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF INNOCENT CHILDREN VICTIMS OF AGGRESSION
According to Hillis, Mercy, Amobi, and Kress (2016), violence against children is a global problem, a worm that continues to eat through the fabric of every society and needs to be stamped out as fast as possible. One billion children, mostly between the ages of 2-17years, are exposed to violence every year.
In response to increasing recognition of this act, its damaging and lasting effects on children, there are growing commitments by UN agencies and other relevant international bodies to see to it that this menace is curbed.
To this end, the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression was set aside in 1982 by the United Nations to acknowledge the pain and suffering of children throughout the world. Since then, the day has been commemorated on June 4th of every year.
The day also acknowledges and celebrates the works of individuals and organizations over the years, who are protecting children’s rights and continuously work to mitigate every form of violence and aggression against children.
Also, On September 15th 2015, the President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, committed to ending violence against children, launched A Year of Action. “To children in Nigeria: on this historic day, we make a pledge – we commit to protecting each and every one of you from violence.” – President Muhammadu.
He called on all layers of government, NGOs, religious leaders and groups, the media and every Nigerian to take action to protect children and ensure that no child has to grow up in the shadow of violence. The President launched the Campaign to End Violence Against Children by 2030.
Since the President made the declaration, several State and agencies have adopted and launched their campaigns as well as develop systems to protect Child Rights.
Aggression against children has destructive effects that seep from individuals into society, affecting our perception, outlook on life and reaction to situations. It is an endless cycle that we must work together to break if we must create a society free of physically and emotionally broken people and filled with safe and empowered ones.
As LAPDO joins others across the world to celebrate the International Day of Aggression against children, it is our hope that we all come together as a society and rededicate our resolve to curb violence and aggression against children. It is our responsibility to protect them.
Hillis S, Mercy J, Amobi A, & Kress H (2016). Global prevalence of past-year violence against children: A systematic review and minimum estimates. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/137/3/e20154079