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Evaluation Of The Role Of Radio In The Campaign Against Child Abuse In Rivers State (A Study Of Select Radio Stations In Port Harcourt)


The aim of this study was to analyze the role of radio in the campaign against child abuse in Rivers state. The study is anchored on agenda setting theory. The study used survey research method as quantitative design while questionnaire is used as a data gathering instrument. Respondents were drawn from Port-Harcourt using the purposive sampling technique in which 385 respondents were drawn as 385 copies of questionnaires were retrieved. The collected data were analysised and interpreted using descriptive statistics i.e (frequency, percentage method coupled with tabulation) The study answered four research questions. From the research findings, it was observed that the programmes aired on the Radio helped in discouraging the practice of Child Abuse and Labour. The study recommended that government should embark on public enlightenment programmes to educate the public on the social dangers of child abuse.

Table of contents     



1.1 Background of the Study

1.2 Statement of the Problem

1.3 Objectives of the Study

1.4 Research Questions

1.5 Research Hypotheses

1.6 Significance of the Study

1.7 Theorectical Framework

1.8 Scope/Limitation of the studies

1.9 Definition of Terms


2.1 Conceptualization of concepts

2.2 Theoretical Framework

2.3 Empirical Review

2.5 Summary of Literature


3.1 Research Design

3.2 Population of the Study

3.3 Sample Size and Sample Techniques

3.4 Method of Data Collection

3.5 Validity and Reliability of Research Instrument

3.6 Method of Data Analysis


4.1 Data Presentation

4.2 Data analysis

4.3 Discussion of findings


5.1 Summary of findings

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 Recommendations




1.1 Background of the Study

Children are regarded as precious gifts from God, leaders of tomorrow, man‟s ticket of continuity on earth; yet, these same children are subjected to different forms of abuse and neglect. Perhaps, it is in recognition of this fact that the United Nations in 1979 designated that year as the „international year of the child‟ and went ahead to develop a list of children‟s rights. Among the rights as enunciated by the United Nations are that every child is entitled to the right to love and understanding; adequate food and health; free education, play, an  identity and special attention of the handicapped regardless of colour, sex, religion and nation or social origin (Nwokedi, 2016).

Unfortunately, according to the United Nations, many people are not aware of the existence of these rights. This is why child abuse is rampant in many countries of the world including Nigeria today. Young (2001) in Nwokedi (2016) observe that, “child abuse and neglect are an integral part of the modern world including African society and Nigeria in particular. Corporal punishment is widely given as a result of disobedience in any child. These include caning and in some communities in Nigeria, painful punishment such as rubbing pepper into the genital region is practiced”. According to Akinyemi (2013, p.1) child abuse, “is any act of misuse of a child in any form, it is situation where a child is not being provided the much needed necessities of life, where a child is maltreated physically, sexually or emotionally and this is detrimental to the future growth and development of such a child”.

The effects of child abuse may be anxiety, agitation, guilt feelings, neurotic disorders and the society is also affected by this menace, because most of these young derelicts graduate to become armed robbers and kidnappers of tomorrow. Most dare-devil criminals we have around us today were young delinquents of yesterday. It is a cycle, and will continue unbroken until government civil society groups, parents, school and religious institutions hold the bull by the horns to curb this untold act in our society (Akinyemi 2013). As the impact of child abuse negatively affects the child, so does it also negatively affect nation-building. Nigerian children are the leaders of tomorrow and the quality of tomorrow‟s leaders is dependent on the quality of education and social support given to them today. Children are man‟s ticket of continuity on earth and when wantonly abused, constitute the most destructive element of nation-building, because it destroys the roots of the child‟s existence and future.

It is believed that the mass media have always been the major channel through which these  programmes are made popular to the people in the country. The mass media, no doubt, is potent in the spread of innovations and mobilization of the people for a particular course, of nation benefit. It means that the media can be a potent tool in the mobilization and education of the people, on the need to participate in the actualization of the campaign against child abuse (Anorue, Obayi & Onyebuchi, 2011). Olayiwola (1991:33) cited in (Anorue, Obayi & Onyebuchi, 2012) sums it up when he notes that, “some kinds of communication on some kinds of issues, brought to the attention of some kind of people under some kinds of conditions (through some kinds of channel) “have some kind of effect”. The media, in this case the broadcast media (radio and Radio), in performance of their various duties in the society, have not been left out in the efforts at eliminating child abuse in the country. The broadcast media by their very nature are influential particularly in issues of creating awareness, mass mobilization and sensitization, influencing public opinion and calling attention to pressing socio-cultural issues in the society. Broadcasting is the primary means by which information and entertainment are delivered to the public in virtually every nation around the world (Nwokedi, 2016). Talking about the influence of broadcasting in the society, Adaba (1997) cited in Emakpor (2008, p.5) avers that “no other medium can deliver as large and instantaneous an audience to politicians or government as broadcasting can. Secondly, rightly or wrongly, the belief persists all over the world that broadcasting is an eminently persuasive medium, omnipresent in people‟s homes, work places, even in transit. It is akin to a second skin through which most people stay in touch with their immediate environment and the world at large”.

Byers (1999, p. 51) added that, “it is a blanket term for four types of child maltreatment. They are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect”. Supporting this classification, Armstrong (1993, p. 3) views child abuse as neglect of children by their parents or caregivers; emotional or psychological abuse of children; physical abuse as well as child sexual abuse (CSA)”. He further notes that physical abuse is derived from neglect and this includes a lot of children hawking goods and wares on streets, instead of being in school. Some kids are seen hawking table water in motor parks, imagine what will happen to a girl-child hawking goods in motor parks in the midst of criminals, many of such girls have been raped and maimed.

However, physical abuse may come in form of beating, battering, caning, spanking, slapping, choking, punching, biting, ear-twisting and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse destroys a child’s self esteem. Such abuses include repeated verbal abuse of a child in form of shouting, threats and degrading or humiliating criticisms. Neglect refers to emotional deprivation i.e. lack of caring, loving and empathy towards a child. This can come in form of cold and distant behaviour, punishment for certain behaviour and inconsistent reward, for instance, by failing to enroll a child in school at all or in a befitting school as others.

The media, in this case the Radio, in performance of their various duties in the society, have not been left out in the efforts at eliminating child abuse in the country. The broadcast media by their very nature are influential particularly in issues of creating awareness, mass mobilization and sensitization, influencing public opinion and calling attention to pressing sociocultural issues in the society. Broadcasting is the primary means by which information and entertainment are delivered to the public in virtually every nation around the world.

The Radio on the other hand is very popular and influential because of its multi-sensory appeal even though its accessibility may be limited in many rural areas of the country. The pictures in the Radio screen evoke a sense of reality and believability. Radio is very powerful tool of social engineering. Apart from their primary roles of informing, educating and entertaining the public, the broadcast medium also provide platform for advertising, correlation of parts of the society; create awareness, play significant roles in social mobilization and sensitization. They play a significant role in forming and influencing people’s attitudes and behaviors.

Accordingly, Goddard and Saunder (2001, p.13) draw attention to the essential roles of the media in increasing society’s awareness of and response to child abuse and neglect. They note that the role played by the media through news and features that are reported on specific child abuse cases, research and intervention strategies. Brawley (1999, p.40) concurs that “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”. He further suggested that proper understanding of media influence and how to use the media constructively may thus be an essential tool for those who advocate for children, young people and their families.

Thus, this study sets out to evaluate of the role of radio in the campaign against child abuse in rivers state; a study of select radio stations in Port Harcourt.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The radio is particularly popular in most rural areas that constitute about 65 percent of the country. Radio is arguably the most popular medium of mass communication because of its unique characteristics. Not only that is cheap to acquire and simple to operate, its beauty mostly lies in its ability to penetrate remote, inaccessible areas and to transcend linguistic and literacy barriers. This may explain why most people: traders, civil servants, farmers as well as the nomadic Fulani herdsmen have a radio set within reach in their homes and places of work. With their radio sets, they can access information on different subject matters within their immediate and distant environments. The miniaturized radio sets with multiple band receivers are at the beck and call of most information-hungry people of the world today (Ekwueme, 2012).

However, the efforts of the broadcast media do not seem to have reasonably influenced or reasonably reduced the incidence of child abuse in the country. Going by available literature, child abuse seems to be on the increase. For instance, in the words of Abah (2014), “this is not the best time to be born in Nigeria. We just have to face the reality.” She seems at a loss at, “what can we do to be able to arrest the evil trend? To be able to ensure that every Nigerian child, no matter the socio-economic background, is given the best, at least, a reasonably safe environment because there is a lot of insanity around.”

The picture painted above clearly indicts the perceived power of the broadcast media to influence public opinion on burning contemporary issues. The implication is that the broadcast media may not have been effective in their efforts in combating child abuse. It is based on the above, that this study seeks to answer the question: how have the broadcast media been used in combating child abuse in Port Harcourt, Nigeria? .

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study was to evaluate of the role of radio in the campaign against child abuse in rivers state; a study of select radio stations in Port Harcourt. Specifically the study aims:

  1. Determine the level of awareness created by the Radio broadcast on the issue of child abuse in Port Harcourt Nigeria.
  2. Examine the quantity and quality of messages conveyed by the Radio broadcast on child abuse in Port Harcourt Nigeria.
  3. Ascertain the frequency of these messages on child abuse as conveyed by the radio programme.
  4. Ascertain the challenges the Radio broadcast media face in their efforts to combat child abuse in Port Harcourt Nigeria

1.4 Research Questions

To realize the objectives of this study, the following research questions were asked:

  1. What is the level of awareness created by the Radio broadcast media on the issue of child abuse in Port Harcourt Nigeria?
  2. What is the quality of messages conveyed by the Radio broadcast media on child abuse in Port Harcourt Nigeria?
  3. What is the frequency of these messages on child abuse as conveyed by the broadcast media in Port Harcourt Nigeria?
  4. What are the challenges the Radio broadcast media face in the efforts at combating child abuse?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are also formulated to guide this study:

H1: The extent of compliance with Radio messages on child abuse is dependent on the frequency of such messages.

H2: The effectiveness of Radio messages on child abuse is dependent on the quality of such messages.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings of study will be of help to broadcast media professionals in providing information on how to effectively engage the public on the nagging issue of child abuse particularly in the areas of programme packaging, audience selection and programme time. This is really important because it amounts to futile efforts when the receiving audience is not the target audience. Besides, the programme language and packaging have a role to play on how the issue under discussion is perceived.

The findings will also help government in the formulation of people- oriented policies and laws concerning child abuse victims and enable the media to increase the awareness of the existence of some organizations responsible for protecting and enforcing child rights law particularly in effecting the necessary amendments in the areas enforcement and defence of the child’s rights.

This work will assist the activities of various social bodies that are concerned with eradicating child abuse. Though, the task is enormous and cannot be achieved by a single body, gainful collaboration with the media especially, broadcast media will go a long way in getting kids off the streets and ultimately put an end to child abuse in the Port Harcourt. It will enable the media as an institution representing the masses to be more effective in their roles and what the public expects from them in eradicating child abuse.

Academically, this study will add to the existing knowledge and serve as a source of reference for students. It will bridge the literature gap between previous studies and the current study done on this issue. It will also be a stepping stone for further research.

Theoretically, this study provides a practical explanation of the social responsibility theory and the selective perception theory which see media consumers as being active, retentive and has the ability to expose them to that which is in-line with their beliefs and pre-existing knowledge. Also, the media are constitutionally charged to be socially responsible to the plight of the people and should consistently be responsive to the social ills that affect the development of the society where they operate.

It will also help to redirect the deviating attention given to children by parents, caregivers and the society at large as it will help imbibe the notion that the quality of our future is dependent on the quality and quantity of love, attention, care and protective given restore the dignity of children in Port Harcourt Nigeria.

1.7 Theoretical Framework

This study was anchored on two theories namely: agenda setting and social responsibility theories. The agenda setting theory according to Severin and Tankard (2001, p. 222) as cited by Ngoa (2012, p. 4) profoundly came about “during the period 1950‟s and 1960s when researchers became dissatisfied with the limited effects model. Specifically, the theory resulted from a study conducted by Shaw and McCombs pertaining to the 1967 presidential election in the United States of America (Akakwandu, 2012, p. 88).Cohen. Baran and Davis (2003, p. 311) as cited by Ekeanyanwu (2015, p. 115) in his view contends that agenda setting is where the mass media is accredited with the power to set the agenda of the topic for discussion”. This means that it is what the media want us to think about that they project to the public as an important issue and at the end of the day, it appears important in the eyes of the public (Ozuru & Ekeanyanwu 2013, p. 109).The agenda setting theory is relevant in this research because the degree of prominence or importance attached to a story or event such to child abuse by the media (whether print or electronic) that would determine greatly how the public would see or value. Such events story or situation, thus, where the media particularly the print media, give prominence and attention on child abuse issues as well as going further through their editorial comments and other columns on the social religious and cultural implications of child abuse that the public would better appreciate  the concept  and  abstain from same.

Also, the Social Responsibility Theory is an extension of Libertarian Theory, in that the press recognizes that it has a responsibility to society to carry out its essential functions (Hassan, 2013, p.170). Nwabueze (2014, p. 15) summarized the social responsibility theory of the press a theory developed to check the excesses of a free press. The theory posits that much as the press should be free to operate in any society such freedom should carry certain responsibilities or simply the press freedom does not mean the press should do as it pleases. It should operate in recognition of societal needs and aspiration.The relevance of social responsibility theory to this study is that since it is genuinely the responsibility and/or duty of the press to freely inform the members of the society, it is then part and parcel of this responsibility or obligation of the press or the media to bring to the public issues on child abuse in the society with a view to exposing those perpetrating the act. This will go a long way in not only sanitizing the system but also making society a better place. Without proper framing, representation and indeed, reportage of child abuse as a crime would continue to bestride the society and this would no doubt be seen as an indictment on the press for non performance.

Okunna (2002:277) states that Social Responsibility Theory of the press is largely an extension of libertarian theory. In their word the theory places emphasis on the moral and social responsibility of person who, and institutions which operate the mass media, that is to say that the media suppose to be socially responsible to the society in all aspect. Folarin (2002:31) explains further by saying that social responsibility theory owes its origin to Hutchins Commission on freedom of the press, set up in the United States of America in 1947 to re-examine the concept of press freedom as enunciated in libertarian of free theory. Based on the postulation, social responsibility theory of the press asserts that the media should accept and fulfil certain obligations to the society such as:

  1. Provide the public with information and discussion on important social issues and the avoidance of the activities harmful to the public welfare and security of the state.
  2. That through professional standard of in formativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance, these obligations can be met.
  3. That the media should regulate itself within the frame work of law and established institutions to be able to carry out its responsibilities.
  4. Based on the principle the society has the right to expect high standard of performance from the media.
  5. That the media should reflect its society‘s plurality giving access to various points of view and grant all the right to reply.

1.8 Scope/Limitations of the Study of the Study

The study will be restricted to the role of radio in the campaign against child abuse in Rivers state. It is a study of a selected radio station in Port Harcourt. The study is limited to Garden city Radio alone due to financial and time constraints. At any rate, the problem encountered in the cause of this research is getting of reports and materials on the Nigeria abuse campaign and how to source out other relevant data.

Be that as it may, the research was able to obtain material from the press, books, and internet and media outlets.

1.9 Operational Definition of Terms

To ensure absolute comprehensibility of the issue at stake, certain terms and concept especially more technical ones cannot but be defined or clearly explained. Wimmer and Dominick (2003:11) state that Operational definitions are indispensable in scientific research because they enable investigators to measure relevant variable.

Coverage: Reporting of news, stories, issues and event in the newspaper.

Children: This is the group of people under parental oversight that is within the age bracket of 1-18 years.

Child Abuse – Child Abuse is the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation either within or outside a country.

Child abuse: It is the deliberate and wilful injury of a child by a guardian either by hitting, beating with belt, cord, or other implement.

Role: Function or part that one is expected to perform in an organization or society or in a relationship

Mass Media: Sources of information and news such as newspaper, magazine, radio, Radio, internet, films that reach and influence the attitude and opinions of large people.

Campaign: A series of activities that is well articulated planned and organized to achieve or accomplish a particular goal.


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