Almost 9 In 10 Nigerians Attest To High Incidence of Child Abuse In Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria. 7th June, 2022. A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed that child abuse is prevalent in Nigeria, as disclosed by 88 percent of adult Nigerians nationwide. Also, the poll revealed that 51 percent of adult Nigerians acknowledeged that they had personally seen children undergo abusive treatment in their localities. The South-South (57 percent) and North-West (56 percent) zones had more respondents who made this assertion. This is indeed a worrisome figure and everything possible must be done to curtail this act as soon as possible.

The poll result also unearthed the types of child abuse children undergo in their locality and they include physical abuse (35 percent), sexual abuse (28 percent) and abandonment (21 percent) amongst other types. A higher percentage of adult Nigerians nationwide cited poverty (35 percent) and parental neglect (32 percent) as the main causes of child abuse in the country.

Impairing  the future of children by abusing their freedoms and  rights is equal to impairing their development, our national  development  and  our  tomorrow’s society. Hence, it is essential that the issue of child abuse is properly dealt with at individual ,  family,  organizational  and governmental  levels  for  development  and tomorrow’s  good.

It is therefore pertinent that awareness on the effect of child abuse (28 percent), improving the economy (20 percent), job creation, enacting and enforcing strict legislation on child abuse (22 percent each) as recommended by the respondents be adopted by key players as a way of reducing the incidence of child abuse in the country. These are some the key findings from the child abuse poll conducted by NOIPolls in the week commencing 16th May, 2022.

Survey Background

The menace of child abuse has been an age long practice that has derailed the lives of many children from the rightful path of positive development thereby giving them a bleak, hopeless and undesirable future. It is a menace that has been allowed to thrive for long due to ineffective policies put in place by stakeholders thereby leading to undesirable outcomes for the children involved in such menace. Child abuse is any intention to harm or mistreat a child under 18 years. It is not just physical violence directed at a child but any form of maltreatment by an adult which is violent or threatening to a child. Child abuse can be meted on a child by parents, family members, care givers, nursery workers, teachers and sports coaches. Child abuse can occur in different forms which include physical, emotional, abandonment, psychological, sexual and financial.

 A world health organization report stated that nearly 3 in 4 children or 300 million children aged 2-4 years regularly suffer physical punishment and or psychological violence at the hands of parents or caregivers, it also stated that one in 5 women and 1 in 31 men report having been sexually abused as a child aged 0-17 years and additionally, 120 million girls and young women under 20 years of age have suffered some form of forced sexual contact[1]. UNICEF statistics show that abuse in all its forms is a daily reality for many Nigerian children and only a fraction receive help. It further stated that Six out of 10 children experience some form of violence, and one in four girls and 10 percent of boys have been victims of sexual violence[2].

It is believed that child abuse can be precipitated by factors such as poverty, unemployment, marital strife, alcoholism, difficult pregnancy and delivery, lack of knowledge of child development and a lot of other factors. It’s effect can better be imagined as it includes extreme stress which can impair the development of the nervous and immune system. Other effects include perpetrating or being a victim of violence, depression,  obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, unintended pregnancy, alcohol and drug misuse. Measures to prevent and curb the menace of child abuse include parental and caregiver support, educating the children and encouraging life skills approaches, creating programs to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation, encouraging interventions to build a positive school climate, imbibing norms and value approaches, implementation and enforcements of laws to prohibit violent punishment and to protect the child. Implementing these solutions proffered will go a long way in curbing the menace of child abuse. Against this backdrop, NOIPolls conducted a survey on child abuse to gauge the pulse of Nigerians.

Survey Findings

The first question sought to gauge the opinion of adult Nigerians regarding the prevalence of child abuse. The poll result reveal that majority of adult Nigerians (88 percent) stated that child abuse is prevalent across the country. This incidence cuts across gender, geographical locations and age-group with at least 81 percent representation.

Trend analysis shows an 18 percent increase in the proportion of Nigerians who stated that child abuse is prevalent in Nigeria when current findings are compared with the result of the poll conducted in 2017.

With regards to practice, the poll revealed almost a split as 51 percent of adult Nigerians acknowledged that they have personally seen children undergone abusive treatment within their locality. Nigerians residing in the South-South (57 percent) and North-West (56 percent) zones accounted for respondents with this assertion.

Trend analysis shows a 1 percent increase in the proportion of adult Nigerians who mentioned that they have seen children undergone abusive treatment when current result is compared to the result obtained in 2017

Interestingly, the poll revealed that physical abuse (35 percent), sexual abuse (28 percent) and abandonment (21 percent) are the top three abuse children go through in their locality. The South-West zone (55 percent) had more Nigerians who mentioned physical abuse while the North-East zone accounted for a larger share of respondents who stated sexual abuse (41 percent) and abandonment (21 percent).

Additionally, when respondents were asked to state reasons for child abuse, the poll showed that 35 percent of the respondents reported that poverty is one of the main reasons for child abuse in Nigeria. The South-East and the South-West zones had more respondents with this assertion. This is closely followed by parental neglect and bad economy.

Furthermore, respondents were asked if they know any family member below 18 who has experienced some form of child abuse. The poll result revealed that 13 percent of respondents know a family member who was involved in physical abuse while 9 percent stated they know a family member involved in sexual abuse. Others include financial abuse (10 percent), abandonment and psychological abuse (11 percent each) amongst other abuses.

Subsequently, the poll revealed that 44 percent of adult Nigerians are not aware of any reporting channel for child abuse cases. Nigerians residing in the North-West had more respondents who disclosed this. On the contrary, 56 percent claimed to know where they can report cases of child abuse.

Awareness on the effect of child abuse (28 percent), improving the economy (20 percent), job creation, enact and enforce strict legislation ( 22 percent each) were some of the recommendations made by the respondents as a way of reducing the incidence of child abuse in the country. Other mentions includes encouraging free education (14 percent), child walfare for the less privileged children (12 person) and encourage good parenting (4 percent) amongst others.


In conclusion, the poll results have shown a high prevalence of child abuse in the country. Given this high prevalence and the proportion of Nigerians who have witnessed an incidence of child abuse in their locality, it is ensential that the Federal, State, Local government and other stakeholders synergize and champion the course of violence against children and focus on an enlightenment campaign as recommended by 28 percent of the respondents. Also, strengthening and enforcing relevant legislative and policy frameworks in the course of protecting the Rights of the Nigerian Child as advocated by 22 percent of the respondents is key.

Finally, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG, to end all forms of violence against children by 2030, it is imperative for the Federal Government to persuade the remaining 11 States in Nigeria that are yet to pass the Child Right Act of 2003 to do so urgently so as to fully criminalize the despicable act, therefore providing Nigerian children the opportunity where they are nurtured in a safe and secure environment.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week commencing May 16th, 2022. It involved telephone interviews of a proportionate nationwide sample of 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical regions and 36 states and the FCT of the country. Interviews were conducted in 5 languages – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Pidgin English, and English. Although we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained were statistically precise – within a margin of error of plus or minus 4.65%; we recognize that the exclusive use of telephone polling has its limitation of excluding non-phone-owning Nigerians. Nonetheless, with the country’s tele density put over 100 percent by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we consider our telephone polling approach appropriate. Also, given the rigorous scientific process of randomization and stratification applied, we can confidently stand by the validity of our methodology and approach.

NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country-specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at


This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as authors whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited, or published. NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect the views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact, or any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken because of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions, or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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