No fewer than half of Nigerian children reported some form of physical violence prior to 18 years by an intimate partner, parent, adult relative or community member, the UNICEF said on Tuesday.
Ms Juliane Koenlg of UNICEF in Abuja, made the disclosure while presenting the findings of the Economic Burden of Violence against Children in Lagos.
It was at the launch of two documents: “A Financial Benchmark for Child Protection, Nigeria Study, Volume 1” and “The Economic Burden of Violence Against Children” by UNICEF.”
According to Koenlg, findings in the the study also shows that roughly one-fifth of Nigerian children reported emotional abuse while growing up.
She said that based on this large indicator, there was need to give a sense of spending on child protection going by the huge implications of Violence Against Children ( VAC).
” Nigeria faces significant political, security and economic challenges; 53 per cent of the population are children; many are exposed to extreme situations of violence due to ongoing political and ethnic conflicts.
“Many suffer abuse due to prevailing social norms and economic conditions and distorted wealth distribution.
“The analysis of the economic costs shows that violence against children carries a considerable burden in Nigeria, especially as the adverse consequences of childhood violence affect not only children as individuals, but by extension, families, and communities”.
According to her, the estimated economic value that Nigeria lost to some selected health consequences of violence against children in 2014 amounted to N849 billion for females and and 579 billion Naira for males.
She urged governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and decision makers to urgently develop budget for interventions that would reduce VAC.
Speaking, Mrs Bola Balogun, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development on Tuesday said: ” President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2015 made a wakeup call for a national campaign to end violence against children in Nigeria.
“This singular declaration by the president and the follow-up action by core Ministries Department Agencies (MDAs) has positioned Nigeria as one of the leadng countries to end child crime.
“Nigeria is now one out of the seven Pathfinding Countries for the End Violence Against Children Global Campaign.
“One of the requirements of a pathfinding country is to have a data hub that will guide decision making,” she said.
The permanent secretary said the desire to document existing child protection services in the federal MDAs gave birth to documenting the services and financial benchmark of child protection services between 2014 to 2016.
“The first part of the study was embarked upon to provide evidence on the actual budget allocation and expenditure on child protection services.
“The second report which is on economic burden of violence against children presented the cost of inaction of violence against children.
“This has helped to deepen the evidence of the quality of protection for every Nigeria child,” she said.
Balogun said that the findings in the assessments serves as a wake up call for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and chart a new course towards increased funding for child protection.
She said that this should be done with a view to improving the safety of children as well as reducing the cost on response services in the long run.
“The financial commitment of government on child protection services has become necessary with a rise in child crime in the country,” Balogun said.
In her remarks, Mrs Grace Obi-Ukpabi, from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Abuja said that the government knows the importance of investing in people for a better future.
Obi-Ukpabi said that if investments are not carried out on human beings, every of the economic endeavour being propagated will eventually become null and void.
“If we refuse to invest in our children, we are giving the future a bleak look because what we do to our children, we indirectly do to ourselves,” she said.
She said that the reports launched could be used as a benchmark in ministries so that the press could use it as a yard stick of measurement to judge performances over time.
Also, Mrs Olufunmilayo Balogun, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Lagos State said that protecting a child is synonymous to protecting the future of a country.
“We need to be sensitive to the things happening around us as it affects our children and unborn generation.
“As Nigerians, we must invest in our heritage because it is this investment that will yield quantifiable returns towards growth in the future.
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