Constraints and Challenges of the Media in Child Rights Advocacy and Development in Nigeria

Constraints and Challenges of the Media in Child Rights Advocacy and Development in Nigeria

Abdulhameed Kayode Agboola (Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0329-4.ch005
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Studies have revealed that children constitute more than one-third of the world's population and half of the world's population is under the age of 25. In the age of globalization, media institutions and services are controlled by the market forces. Critically speaking, media institutions have not lived up to their expectations towards child rights advocacy and development. This chapter discusses the plight of children in Africa. It argues for the child rights advocacy as well as discusses the challenges and constraints that hinder the media from performing their role adequately. It concludes that the mass media plays an important role in promoting and sustaining the child rights advocacy. The chapter recommends that all media houses must strive to live up to the expectations of the people no matter the constraints and challenges that might stand in their way.
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Media indeed is a powerful instrument in raising the awareness of people of their rights, most especially of the children (Guru, Nabi & Raslana, 2013). Broadcast Journalists have responsibility of uncovering stories (through dramas, documentaries and news) of abuses occurring in the society that involve children. In these cases of abuses in the society, infiltrating sensitive stories, such as, child abuse is a must. Stories such as these have an overwhelming impact on society’s attitude towards children which greatly affect the way the adult behave. It thus becomes an issue of concern to media practitioners to raise awareness of these children’s issues and to avoid further exploitation these children who are extremely damaged by the abuses they went through.

Oyero (2010) rightly states that, the media provides a unique avenue through which children related issues are brought to the fore of public discourse. In recognition of this fact, the Norwegian Government and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) launched the Oslo Challenge to call to action to ensure that the overwhelming power of the media for good in the lives of children is identified, encouraged, and supported, while the potential harmful effects are recognised and reduced. In this regard, it is not inaccurate to say that Nigerian children are faced with various challenges during their journey through life. Nigeria ranks among the worst nations in many children-related world ranking indices ranging from child health, out-of-school children, to child labour, child development index, among others. Several children-related issues abound that require urgent attention of stakeholders within and outside the country in order for the country to redeem her image as one that caters for the needs and protects the innocence of her children. The media was thus challenged to promote good ethical conduct to avoid sensationalism, stereotyping, or undervaluing of children and their rights (Child Rights International Network [CRIN], 2009).


Concepts Of A Child And Child Rights

There is no generally accepted definition of a child or who a child is. However, in order to surmount the difficulty in defining a child, Sadeeq (2016, p.45) highlightes that, it is surprising to note that under the common law, the definition of the word ‘child’ varies with the statutes, so that a child is a child in one statute but not a child in another. Indeed, there is a legislative hesitation as to whether a child is properly to be termed a child, a minor or an infant; nor is this the only terminology to be considered. There are also juveniles and young persons to be woven into the legal fabric.

Sadeeq (2016) states further that the common law position which stipulates that a person who has not reached the age of 14 is a child applies in Nigeria. However, the current laws in Nigeria that deal with the child are the Constitution, the Child Right Act of 2003 and Children and Young Person‘s Law. In the Children and Young Persons Law, child is defined as a person less than 14 years while a juvenile or young person is any person who has attained the age of 14 years but has not reached 18 years. Even though the Constitution of Nigeria does not contain any provision specifying who a child is, it has been submitted that by prescribing 18 years as the voting age in the Electoral Act, it suggests a child to be a person under the age of 18. Also the Child Right Act defines a child as any person under the age of 18 years.

Child rights therefore can be said to mean the rights enjoyed by children that is specifically linked to their status as minors and to their needs for special care and protection. Child rights can also be said to mean the claims that all children have to survival, development, protection and participation. It could also mean the totality of obligations owed to children by both adults and the states. These rights are contained in several local and international instruments and they include right to life, right to health, right to welfare, right to education and right to freedom from physical or mental harm among others (Sadeeq, 2016).


Statement Of The Problem

North America, Australasia, and Western Europe have made progress as regards improving the lives of children, but the position of children in the countries of Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa remains tenuous. The concept of child protection is often a distant dream, and the very structures of society negate the attempts to alleviate the position children find themselves in.

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