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The study examined the influence of child abuse on the social adjustment of children in primary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this study, some relevant and extensive literatures were review under relevant sub-headings. The descriptive research survey was used to assess the respondents; opinions using the questionnaire and the sampling technique. In this study, 120 (one hundred and twenty) respondents were selected and used as samples to represent the population of the study.

A total of four (4) null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study. Also, the independent t-test statistical tool was used to test and analyses the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance.

At the end of the exercise, the following results were obtained:

1. There is a significant difference between the family background of children who are abused and those who are not abused.

2. There is a significant difference between the social adjustment of children abused and those not abused.

3. There is a significant difference between the academic performance of children who are abused and those who are not.

4. Finally, there is a significant difference between the abuse of children who come from high socio-economic home and those who come from low socio-economic homes.


1.1    Introduction

The level of orientation achieved by the adolescent in the society today, plays back to the kind of early care which the child received from parents, pre – school teachers and the society at large. This is because all the key ingredients of emotional intelligence such as confidence, curiosity, intentionally, self-control, relatedness, capacity to communicate and co-operateness   that determines how a child learns and relates in school and in life general are developed.

Anderson (1999), stated that, childhood is the time we learn basic skills and establish the platform for our future. Therefore, the need for achievement orientation among adolescent in our society is paramount because it is what ever orientation he or she get that affect the feeling about himself and his relationship with others. People with a high need for achievement sick out situation in which they can compete against some standard be it grades, money, or winning at a game and prove themselves successful while people with low achievement orientation tend to be motivated primarily by a desire to avoid failure as a result, they seek out easy tasks, being sure to avoid failure or seek out very difficult tasks for which failure has no negative implications, since almost anyone would fail at them.

However, the beginning of the adolescent perception of his environment is the accumulated experiences the adolescent  gathers from the infant stage to the adolescent period. This is a period the adolescent begins to see things as relative rather than absolute.

Piaget (1966) as contained in Osarenren (2000), observed that it is a period known as formal operational stage (11-15 years) the key patterns of reasoning at this stages combinational, proportional, probabilistic and correlational during this period, the adolescent reason out everything key perceive in their own way.

Bond (1989) asserted that adolescent with a background of family tension may approach schooling as unhappy and insecure, those from a culture different from that of the teacher and different from that portrayed in the learning materials may experience unusual difficulty in learning.

Some adolescents come from a home environment which provides love, understanding, an opportunity to develop individuality and a feeling of security which others do not. Quarreling parents, broken homes, child neglect, child abuse, over protection, parental domination, anxiety, hostility and destructive rivalry among siblings are likely to produce nervous tension and feelings of insecurity and consequently lead to low achievement orientation.

When the behaviour of a low achiever is compared to that of an adolescent making normal progress, it becomes obvious that there are differences in personal and social adjustment. Adolescent who are failing to achieve well are more likely to show signs of emotional and social maladjustment than their successful peers. Most adolescent with low achievement manifest some sort of maladjustment ranging in degree of mild to severe.

In the classroom, adolescent with low achievement manifest symptoms of stress in one way or the other. Often, they appear shy or restless, some seems unable to concentrate. They lack self-confidence, they become discouraged easily and tend to give up when work becomes difficult. The inability to achieve satisfactory usually means severe frustration for the adolescent when his unsuccessful attempts to achieve high make him conspicuous in a society unfavorable way, the adolescent  is hurt and ashamed. His continued lack of success with attendant frustration and feelings of insecurity bring on emotional maladjustment.

Sornson (2002), stated that, some of these adolescent easily become convinced that  they are stupid. This feeling of inadequacy is enhanced by the attitude of their classmates, their parents and their teachers. Sometimes, failure leads adolescent  to become timid, withdrawn and they frequently  day dream. Others may compensate for their feelings of inferiority by developing various forms of anti social behaivour which leads to negative self talk.

Negative statements about self originated from poor conceptualization of idea and thoughts. An individual first think of something within him before he acts. This is because a thought of an idea is first generated or conceptualized before one verbalizes or acts it. This thought might be rational or irrational, positive or negative.

The achievement orientation of an adolescent plays back at his thought process which consequently makes that adolescent make either rational or irrational statement about self which are capable of influencing his behaviour.

Hensen (1997) observed that because man has been endowed with the ability to verbalize, thinking and emotion as presented by Elis takes the forms of self talk, and this self-talk directs the individuals behaviour in either rational or irrational direction.

It is imperative however, that the handicapped who has been tagged with various adjectives like unproductive, totally dependant, second class citizen, by the society tends to direct his behaviour towards irrational direction and hence negative self concept, wrong perception of self, poor actualization, poor judgmental value of the ideal self. He makes distorted statements about self and about others. He is biased about other people’s opinion about him. On the whole, he is socially maladjusted in the society.

Nelson (1997), asserts that teachers can become more effective classroom managers by increasing their rate of contingent positive statement for appropriate  pupils behaviour and decreasing the rate of negative statements for in appropriate pupils behaviour.

The praise and ignore techniques has been repeatedly demonstrated to be an effective classroom  management procedure by some behaviourist (Becker, Madsen abd Thomas, 1987, Madson and Thomas 1988 )

Nelson (1997), carried out two experiments with classroom teachers, using self-monitoring to alter negative classroom verbalization. In experiment 1, two teachers self-recorded positive and negative classroom verbalization during different phase of the study. In experiment 11, four teachers self-recorded positive or negative classroom verbalizations and received experimental instructions to increase  positive statements or to decrease negative statement the result of their study showed that self-recording tend to increase positive statements but was less effective in decreasing negative statements.

Merchenbaum (1995), noted that negative  self talks contribute  to maladaptive behaviour in many situations. He went further to say that adolescents thinking style or what he says to himself has an important role in the definition of the present problem.

According to Meichanban, investigations who had treated phobias with different treatment procedures have all suggested that a common mediating mechanism underlying the therapy process is a change in the client’s self statements. Those who have attempted to reduce phobia behaviour by means of desensitization, modeling, flooding and altering cognitions about internal reaction have all commented on the change process, even when no direct effort is made to change these talks.

As Herter (1994), noted  the therapy technique which is used to modify the internal dialogue and maladaptive behaviour in large part depends upon how one views the thinking  style. Different conceptualizations leads to different therapeutic interventions.

Mecichenbaum (1995)    also observed that some semantic or  cognitive therapists view the negative self. Talks and poor achievement orientation of the faulty belief system and faulty thinking patterns. It was however concluded that modeling, behavioural and imagery rehearsal, operant and aversive conditioning  and others could be used to modify the adolescent’s self talk and belief systems for positive achievement orientation

1.2    Theoretical Background

As we go about our daily lives, we are constantly thinking about and interpreting the situations we find ourselves in. It is as though we have an internal voice on our head that determines how we perceive every situation. We call this inner voice our self- talk and it includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious assumptions or beliefs. This study is basically anchored on four major theories. These are Rational Emotive  therapy (RET), Eilis (1967), achievement orientation theory by Michem (1973), the A-B-C- of self talk by (Edelmen’s abd Remond, L 2005) and attribution theory

1.       Rational Emotive Theory: The central point of RET is that psychologist can help their clients to live the most  self fulfilling, creative and emotionally satisfying lives by teaching them now to organize their thinking.

Rational  psychotherapy is based on the assumption that thought and emotion are not too entirely different processes but that they significantly overlap  in many respects and that therefore, disordered emotions can often (though not always) he modified by changing one’s thinking. According to Elis (1967) thinking  is a more harmful, less accurate directed mode of discrimation  than emotional thinking and emotion tend to take the form of self-talk or internalized sentences.

Nevertheless, the psychologists main goals should be those of demonstrating to client that their self- talk have been and still are the prime source of their emotional disturbance.

Specifically Sokan  (1996), states that effective therapist should continually help in unmasking his clients past and especially his present illogical thinking of self defeating talks by

(a)         Bringing them to his attention or consciousness

(b)         Showing the client how they are causing and maintaining their disturbance and unhappiness

(c)         Demonstrating exactly what that illogical links in his internalized sentence are

(d)         Teaching him how to rethink and re verbalize these sentence in a more logical self helping way

In changing the clients illogical thought, he/she should be exposed to main irrational thought, that human beings are prone, to so that at the expiration of the therapy he does not fall a victim to another set.

Consequently, unequivocal attack on the client’s general and specific irrational idea and to try induce him to adopt more rational ones in their place.

Sokan (1996) lists two main ways by which rational therapist attack the irrational ideas:

(i)          He serves as a frank counter –propagandist who directly contradicts and derives the self defeating propaganda of the client

(2)    The therapist encourages, persuades and sometimes commends the client to partake in some activity which itself will act as a forceful center propagandist against the client irrational thoughts.

(ii)         Achievement orientation: The level of aspiration in all human  endeavour is a factor of the individuals internalized  construct known as achievement  orientation or need for achievement. Achievement  orientation as a personality trait or construct encompasses learned predisposition to achieve or attain success in completion with an internalized standard of excellence. Achievement orientation makes an individual to man and execute tasks and actions leading to the achievement  of a goal.

Anameze (1992), beliefs that achievement orientation enables an individuals to plan a task, feel connected  with the plan and select appropriate steps and carry them out to achieve a goal. Many pupils who fail examination are likely to have negative achievement orientation. This can be inferred from their negative attitude towards planning academic tasks and selecting appropriate strategies to tackle them, besides, they hardly feel connected with work and this denies them success. To escape the problem many of them indulge in examination mal-practice.

According to Mauku (1996), achievement orientation or motivation is a psychological motive to accomplish, excel or attain  higher goals similarly, Igwebuke (1997), defined it as the degree of completion for excellence it equally means that the internal drive that makes an individual to put in all efforts in any work in order to achieve the purpose or goal of such work or it is the internal urge that makes an individuals to set up a task of moderate difficulty , fashion out strategies of performing the task and persist in doing it in order to achieve standing excellence. All said and done, it can be seen that individuals having positive achievement orientation engage in challenging or competitive  tasks, make use of their creative abilities and take responsibility for their success and failure. They equally try to perform to  standard  of excellence in relation to others competing  with them.

Achievement  orientation has three component (Cognitive ego, enhancing and effiliature) Bakare (1976). The degree or level of these components in an individuals determines the individual’s striving to succeed in academic task or any other task.

It should be noted that the way an adolescent sees himself in relation to his goals and to others, the kind of person he believe himself to be and the kind of fear and aspirations he has are major factors in delineating the things for which he strives.

Studies  of levels of achievement orientation have shown that one of the important variable in determing the levels of achievement  a child proposes for himself is his previous experiences  in like situations and self-talk (Sears, 1996).

A-B-C of self-talk

(A)     Is of Activating situation the Activating situation refers to the situation  itself, or the things that happened when an adolescent begins  to feel bad such as being overloaded with essays  and assignments or making a silly comment which he later regretted. It is important to stick to the facts when activating situation has been identified.

(B)   Is for beliefs. Belief comprise self-talk (thoughts) and assumptions, that an adolescent makes about a situation. Identifying self-talk, can sometimes be tricky this is because it is so automatic  that often adolescent  is not even aware of what is going on his mind, when something happens and he suddenly feel upset, he assumes that it is the situation  itself that has made him feel that way. However it is not the situation (activating situation)  but the way he perceive  it (Beliefs) that makes him feel the way he does.

(C)     Is for consequence: The  consequences of beliefs include feelings and behavious feelings are emotions such as sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, embarrassment, joy, excitement or stress. Behaviours are the things adolescents do, such as communication, withdrawal, ask for help etc thinking negatively about situations makes the adolescents feel bad and it can cause them to behave in an unhelpful way.

(iii)    Attribution theory: This theory helps us to understand human motivation, reminds us that people who experience frequent achievement often attribute their success to their own effort or ability and their failure to their own lack of effort or ability people who experience repeated failure, however, often attribute their failure to bad luck or to task difficulty and their success to good luck or the case of the task (Weiner 2000), for adolescents with a history of failure  teaching learning strategies alone may not be sufficient to consist entry increase effort and persistence because the attribution state often determines whether and to what extent a learning strategy will be used.

(Borkowst; Weyling, and Turner 1996) The research of attribution thoughts has spined investigations into expectancy theory (Betancert and Weriner 2002; Dweak, 1996; Licht, 2003), which states that when a person feels success is possible he or she is likely to exert greater effort, persist for a longer period of time, and attribute a greater proportion of success to the effort execrated than in someone who does not expect success (Carr, Boikowski, and Maxwell, 2001, Deshler, Shumaker and Lenz, 2004; Garner, 2000; Xasutake, Bryen and Dohin, 1996) to determine “where” and “how” self talk fits into the scheme of achievement  orientation must be derived. The reality of emotional choice that people have definite control over their emotional state is known in various circle as self-talk, interpersonal communication (IAPC), imaging and visualization (Weaver 1997) self-talk is part of 1 APC, but the part can not be equal to the whole.

Self-talk and 1APC are separated but related model of communication, but all elements of ‘sender, receiver’, receiver,” and transmitter, are carried out within individual people.

Pearson and Nelson (1995) expanded the definition as not restricted to talking to ourselves. It also includes such activities as internal conflict planning for the future emotional evaluation of ourselves and others.

Self-talk has potentially far reaching effects and will likely be used by those who have a high internal locus of control and place a high value on achievement self-talk is categorized as being positive or negative. Positive self-talk has good implication for achievement and people’s mental and physical well-being. However, the negative is not all bad. The key to using self talk is to strive for an appropriate balance between the two.

1.3    Statement of the Problem  

It is quite unfortunate that achievement orientation is seriously jeopardizing the self-talk of the adolescents in primary schools. The adolescent self-talk could either be positive or negative, when the self talk is negative, it is because self-defeating for instance, ‘I’m going to fail for sure’.

Negative self-talk often causes adolescents to feel bad, and to experience upsetting emotions or anxiety which influences their academic work. It should be noted that what people say to themselves does affects their ability to combat and ward off achievement. To this end, an adolescent can tap into the power of his  own self-talk by recognizing it for what it is, reducing harmful negativity  and increasing the number of positive internal messages and it can be achieved when the right thought process is encouraged (Positive self statement), the self-talk of the adolescents will continue to  be poor  and invariably a succession of failure may discourage pupil  to a point where frustration may block further efforts. This trend if unchecked, may increase drop out rate in the primary school level. Mass failure is equally frustrating to parent and the trend may hinder Nigeria’s scientific and technological advancement and general progress.

1.4   Objectives of the Study

In specific terms, the objectives of the study are to:

1.          Investigate the relationship between child abuse and social adjustments of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

2.          Find out the relationship between child abuse and academic performances of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

3.         Find out the difference between academic performances of physically abused and psychologically abused primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

1.5   Research Questions                                                          

This study seeks to answer the following questions:

1.          What are the relationships of child abuse on the social adjustments of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria?

2.          What are the relationships of child abuse on the academic performances of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria?

3.          What are the differences between the academic performances of the physically abused and psychologically abused primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria?

1.5   Hypotheses 

HO1: There is no significant relationship between child abuse and academic performance of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

HO2: There is no significant relationship between psychological abuse and social adjustment of primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

1.6 Basic Assumptions

For the purpose of this study, it is assumed that:

i.         Child abuse might have high or low relationship with social adjustment of primary school pupils.

ii.       Child abuse might have high or low relationship with the academic performances of its victims. 

iii. Psychological abuse might have high or low relationship with social adjustments of its victims.

iv.     Psychological abuse might have high or low relationship on the academic performances of its victims.

v.       Significant difference might exist between the social adjustments of physically abused and psychologically abused primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

vi. Significant difference might exist between the academic performance of physically abused and psychologically abused primary school pupils in Lagos State, Nigeria.

1.7   Significance of the Study

This research is significant in the sense that it will help a great deal in providing additional information on the prevailing problem of physical and psychological forms of child abuse in our society. Over the years, there have been different researches with varying degrees of success on different aspects of child abuse such as drug abuse, moral abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, but the aspects of physical and psychological forms of abuse have not been seriously explored or investigated at the primary school sub-sector. The study will also provide useful information and serve as a guide for the scope and nature of child abuse, the immediate and long-term consequences and aftermaths of this scourge on individuals, families and the society at large. 

Furthermore, it will provide effective and sustainable policies for child protection programmes. As a result, the study is significant to the following people. It will assist classroom teachers in identifying physically and psychologically abused pupils in their classrooms. Moreover, this identification is the prerequisite for the teacher in his or her attempt to help the victims overcome their appalling conditions. It will also serve as a guide for teachers and school authorities design and implement special classes in their bid to help the affected pupils before referring them to the appropriate agencies or specialists for adequate, further or complementary help or measures. It will help abused pupils get solutions to their problems. It will also direct them to the people from whom they should seek help instead of suffering in silence.It will be of great significance to school counselors in knowing more about the various forms that physical and psychological abuses take. This will help them render counseling services effectively and efficiently to their pupils that are in dear need of help. 

This study is relevant to psychologists in the sense that it will enable them learn more about physical and psychological forms of abuse children experience. As such, the research will help them in solving cases of abuse in good time, in the midst of pupils, thus contributing to the promotion of effective learning. It will help educationists identify the various forms of abuse pupils are subjected to and insert proper ideas on how to treat the affected pupils within the school and class rooms so that they can perform better, into the curriculum. The study will also serve as a source of information and guide for educational policy makers and administrators. For example, the Ministry of Education can set up and implement special educational programmes and services for the physically and psychologically abused children similar to those of the disabled children. It is hoped that this research will enlighten the NGOS as to the physical and psychological forms of abuse children suffer and how these affect the learning process of the children.  By being significant to the above-mentioned people, this work will surely help in curbing if not eradicating child abuse in order to make the society a better place for children. 

1.8   Scope and Delimitation of the Study             

The scope was limited to public primary schools in Mainland L.G.A. in Lagos State. The study was also delimited to physical and psychological abuse of children in Lagos State, the research hinged on the premise that these forms of abuse have various abysmal short or long-term consequences on the lives of the children. Most cases of abuse are not reported and from the prevailing circumstances, it is believed that pupils in public schools are likely to suffer from the scourge. Finally, the study was delimited to six (6) public primary schools.

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