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Prevalence of Corporal Punishment among Nigerian Students Between the Age of 2-14 Years

Related imageChild abuse and neglect is known as a major public health problem diminishing the health and wellbeing of a child and an adolescent across the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the term child maltreatment in a general concept that includes “abuse”, and “neglect” even though the terms “maltreatment and abuse” are mutually used in the literature. According to CDC (2008) this is defined as any act or series of acts of commission1 or omission by a parent2 or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child (Leeb, Paulozzi, Melanson, Simon, & Arias, 2008). Furthermore, World Health Organization defines “Child Abuse and Neglect” as ‘Every kind of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development, or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Several studies have shown that children who have been abused or neglected tend to show signs of developmental issues, impaired cognition, eating and sleeping disorders, poor academic performance, poor relationship, PTSD, depression, suicidal behaviors and themselves may inherit the trait of abusiveness (Olatosi, Ogordi, Oredugba, & Sote, 2018).

For over a century, according to the Nigerian culture, children are perceived to be an instrument or property that has no rights of its own. The belief states that children should be seen on occasions, but not heard; they are not permitted to listen to the discussions of that of an adult or make contributions to their conversation. Not only was the situation prevalent in the Nigerian society, it continued its way into the educational system of the country. Unfortunately, children were only authorized to contribute in a class activity when the teacher deems it as necessary. The educational curriculum in Nigeria is recognized as a means of establishing a free democratic and equal community that is strong, united and independent with a land full of opportunities and potentials for the citizens to grow and prosper (Umobong, 2015).

The African custom detects that the parents are the solely responsible for training their child, and a member of the community also has the right to discipline and correct a child who misbehaves or acted in a wrong way. The parents are to teach their children in a suitable and acceptable way according to the standard of the society. However, in recent times, as a result of the introduction of nursery and pre-schools, parents pushed the responsibilities such as directing, guiding, counselling and role modeling to the academic institution; hence, contributing to the demands of the curricular of the school. Children at the age of two years, who are supposed to be at home to receive the warmth and nurture of a mother are enrolled into schools. The school is therefore faced with managerial challenges on how to manage the children and train them. This eventually leads to the lack of provision of human rights for the children; children are further subjected to physical abuse and neglection; emotional abuse from the teacher and other inhuman treatments (Umobong, 2015).

Academic institutions go beyond gathering children to enroll them for learning sessions; it is a way of addressing behavioral problems among students. Schools are challenged with numerous acts of misconduct from students. Although it has been argued by a lot of teachers that punishment is an answer to misconduct, others tend to enact discipline among the students. Therefore, teachers and academic administrators inflict corporal punishments on students for several reasons. Pupils are beaten for receiving a poor grade in an exam, for talking in the class etc. A considerable number of teachers, administrative staff and parents have the belief that these punishments are essential in the upbringing of a child; to teach the child a lesson or discourage misbehaviors in the future(Yemi, 2018) .

According to a survey conducted by UNICEF which focused on violence on children by caregivers or family members, authority figures, peers and strangers, showed that over 60% of adults in Nigeria agree with the method of physical punishment as an act of discipline towards children to raise and educate them. 91% of children between the age of 2-14 years have experienced violent discipline such as psychological aggression/physical punishment by a parent or a teacher. Over 30% of Nigerian children have been subjected to severe case of physical punishment from hitting the child on the head, ear or face to hitting the child with objects such as canes or sticks(UNICEF, 2014).
Another survey that studies eye injuries caused from corporal punishments in Nigerian academic settings that involved 172 primary school teachers in Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria, indicates that 80% of participants had witnessed students undergo punishments by the teachers with a cane, 46% students were subjected to horse-whip and 30% were slapped by the teacher’s hand; 61% of the students were flogged on their buttocks, while 49% of them on their backs, 52% on the palms of the their hands, 20% on the head and 16% received beatings on their face (Mahmoud, Ayanniyi, & Salman, 2011).


Leeb, R. T., Paulozzi, L. J., Melanson, C., Simon, T. R., & Arias, I. (2008). CHILD MALTREATMENT SURVEILLANCE Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements Version 1.0.
Mahmoud, A. O., Ayanniyi, A. A., & Salman, M. F. (2011). Observations of teachers in llorin, Nigeria on their practices of corporal punishment that are potentially injurious to their pupils eyes. Annals of African Medicine, 10(2), 150–154.
Olatosi, O. O., Ogordi, P. U., Oredugba, F. A., & Sote, E. O. (2018). Experience and knowledge of child abuse and neglect: A survey among a group of resident doctors in Nigeria. The Nigerian Postgraduate Medical Journal, 25(4), 225–233.
UNICEF. (2014). HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT A statistical analysis of violence against children. New York, NY.
Yemi, F. (2018). Journal of Education and Practice ISSN (Vol. 9). Retrieved from Online website: