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BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Child trafficking or child abuse is one of the critical issues facing almost all societies of the world including the most civilised countries such as US, UK, France which has received several attentions locally and globally with the view to curb or eradicate all forms of abuse on children. The concept of child abuse is sometimes used interchangeably as child maltreatment but some researchers believe see child maltreatment as an umbrella term that covers neglect, exploitation, and trafficking of children.
However, from the global efforts through the UNICEF policy enacted in the Millennium Development Goals declaration, it is obvious that six out of the eight agenda addresses child protection explicitly. A close look at the MDGs shows that no single Goal can be achieved unless the protection of children is an integral part of programming strategies and plans. Failing to protect children from such issues as violence in schools, child labour, harmful traditional practices, the absence of parental care or commercial sexual exploitation squanders the world’s most precious resource. reaching the most vulnerable and isolated populations helps ensure the health and well-being of all and is indispensable to achieve the MdGs.
The reason is not far fetch since the first goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” which means that children who were victim of hunger are prone to so many dangers apart from poor health, it could lead them to street begging, street hawking etc, the same goes to the 2nd agenda which achieve universal primary education others are promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The other two that are not children oriented directly is ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. Without doubt, it can be clearly established that children rights are seen global issue that every UN member states must not only strive to achieve but must be pursue with deliberate efforts towards ensuring child abuse free society.
No wonder, it became a global concern when over 200 Chibok school girls in Borno state were kidnapped by the Boko-Haram insurgency some two years ago in which local, foreign, individuals, experts, NGOs and International organisations launched various campaign tagged Bring Back Our Girls “BBOG” to usher the release of the children which is regarded as an abuse on those children right.
Today, there are numbers of ways children are abuse particularly in Nigeria and in sub-sahara Africa which include but not limited to any action or attempt by another person that causes significant harm to a child (usually under 18 years) which could be inform of bullying and cyberbullying, female genital mutilation (fgm), child sexual exploitation , domestic abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, online abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, child trafficking, girl looking downstairs grooming, harmful sexual behaviour and other forms of abuse such as street hawking, house help etc (Lindah, 2013).
The research therefore on the thrust to investigate the public perception of mass media awareness on child trafficking (case study of Minna metropolis).
1.2 Statement of the Problem:
The vantage position that children occupy in any society cannot be overemphasized. It is rightly expected that for there to be continuity in human existence in the society the presence of children is needed. This is because when the adults’ finally pass to the great beyond or when they get too old to carry on with life activities, today’s children are expected to take their positions. Based on the foregoing, it is quite annoying therefore seeing these children undergo series of neglect, slave trade, abuse, dehumanisation and torture of some sorts in the name of child trafficking. Annually, thousands of children are reportedly smuggled across borders and sold as a mere commodities. As a result of this ugly trend, their survival and development are incessantly threatened, their right to life, jeopardised. However, as children constitute untapped resources to every nation, the incessant nature of neglect, abuse and torture meted out on them in form of trafficking requires an empirical examination. This therefore forms the problem this study sought to investigate.
1.3 Significance of Study
This study would be significant in many respects. Firstly, the problem and development of Nigeria children affect every home directly or indirectly. Therefore studying and analysing the perception of the public towards press coverage on issues of children is sine qua non to the over all development of Nigeria because it would serve as an insight into the conditions in which our children find themselves today and a guide for preparing them for meaningful contribution to development of the society. Secondly, it will advance the frontier of knowledge in the field of mass communication and serve as a repository of knowledge and also contribute to the available literature in the field of mass communication.
Thirdly, the issues of child trafficking in Nigeria have become a serious matter and demands adequate attention by all and sundry. It will help National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP), Government and other Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) to assess how far the press has covered issues bothering on child trafficking.
Finally, it will serve as a reference material for future researchers.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study include:
1. To find out the perception of the public concerning the role of mass media in child trafficking.
2. To find out if the mass media really create the right awareness on child trafficking.
3. To recommend ways to improve the mass media perception on child trafficking.
1.5 Research Questions
For the purpose of this study the following questions are posed to guide this research.
1) What is the perception of the public concerning the role of mass media in child trafficking?
2) Do the mass media really create the right awareness on child trafficking?
3) What are the various ways to improve the mass media perception on child trafficking?
1.6 Theoretical Framework
The study is anchored within the context of two vital theories namely: Social Responsibility Theory and the Agenda Setting Theory. These theories will be used to explain or interpret some phenomenon because its basic tenets are fundamental to the understanding of the subject under study. 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:
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.
That through professional standard of in formativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance, these obligations can be met.
That the media should regulate itself within the frame work of law and established institutions to be able to carry out its responsibilities.
Based on the principle the society has the right to expect high standard of performance from the media.
That the media should reflect its society‘s plurality giving access to various points of view and grant all the right to reply.
Another theory that was adopted in the analysis in this study is Agenda Setting Theory. Baran (2007:108) maintains that the theory propose that the public agenda or what kind of thing people discuss, think and worry about is powerfully shaped and directed by what the news media chose to publicise. While Wimmer and Dominick (2005:408) argues that Agenda setting research examines the relationship between media priorities and audience priorities in the relative importance of news topics. This means that if the news media decide to give the most time and space to covering issues concerning children, child trafficking in the society will be reduced and it will become the most important item on the audience agenda. If the newspapers under study devote their time in reporting the issues concerning children as often as possible they will not only emphasize the importance but also will give the public what to think about the children as regards their well being as the future hopes of the nation. Nigeria will also rate children as the most important issue to them.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION
This study is limited to the mass media and how the public perceive its role regarding child trafficking. The setting of this study is Minna metropolis, Niger state. The findings of this study is limited to the location and as such cannot be generalized to the whole state or nation. On the other hand, this limitation serves as a room for further studies.
1.8 DEFINITIONS 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.
Press: Journalist and photographers that work for newspapers and magazines.
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 trafficking - Child trafficking 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.
Newspaper: It is unbound, printed publication issued at regular intervals, which presents information in words, often supplemented with picture.
1.9 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY:
In carrying out this research, a lot of problems were encountered. The first major constraint was the time within which the work is expected to be completed, coupled with the fact that the research had been done alongside normal academic work. Another major problem was finance due to the present inflationary trends to the country transportation problems and risk of being on the road to various libraries, for vital libraries, for vital information and materials.
The third major problem was inadequate literature as child trafficking is a current issue which has not been adequately and extensively researched on. In spite of the above set backs, the researcher was able to generate meaningful materials which seem relevant to the topic.
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