The Role Of Mass Media In Anti – Child Abuse And Trafficking Campaign

The Role Of Mass Media In Anti – Child Abuse And Trafficking Campaign (A Case Study Of Owerri Metropolis)

The whole world sees the nation of Nigerian as the “giant of Africa” with a population of about one hundred and forty million people with three major viz, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa while English language is the official language. Interestingly, the nation is blessed by God with children, human resources and as well as mineral resources. Those children can best be described as precious seeds and heritage from the lord that should be cared for with regards to their lives, dignity and human rights. This is true because the futures of every nation lies on the children they are endowed with since the child is the father of the man.

Child hood in a global perspective is seen as a fragile and sensitive period that requires protection and meticulous handling. Thus, based on this premise, Thompson 91992) asserts that: children rights have been a world focus since 1979” when the United Nations declared the year as the international year of the child (IYC) and developed a list of children right. The African Union in 1990 also adopted a charter on the rights and welfare of the African child. This charter writes: that African child remains critical due to their vulnerability to all forms of exploitation, degrading and indecent treatment, child labor, abuse torture and trafficking, sexual exploitation, sale abduction and drug abuse. (www.nigerian,2009)

In the average Nigerian society, the Nigerian children hate living in a pitiable condition. The precarious condition as it relates child trafficking and abuse have be come controversial and emotional issue all over the world and Nigeria in particulars.

Child trafficking has become a multi million businesses with an estimated 1.2 million victims per year of with 32 percent is said to be Africans. Children are often given out for fostering to traffickers who deceitfully approach impoverished families and offer them some money. Most times, the Childs parent believes that the shady business will better their lots but to no avail. These children are bonded to the traffickers who secure both commercial and domestic jobs for them. Unfortunately, these families rarely arise money to buy them back (,june 1, 2009). In many cities towns and other semi urban and rural centers in Nigeria. It is not uncommon to see children abused. They beg money on the streets, hawk wares on the high way and busy roads some engage in laborious jobs in the home stead and farm steeds. Worst still, some are used in prostitution, illicit sex, enslaved, physically abused and some perish on transit. They are often deprived of obtaining sound education, right to freedom and human dignity while some are abandoned to their fates.

Ohiri (2005: 8) stated that “the former Imo state commissioner for women affairs in a seminar organized by the United Nations International children’s fund (Unicef) held at Ezinifite Mbaise on November 5th 2005 warned parents to reject poverty and pressures of urban migration. This she maintained is responsible for giving out children to the demands of help and invariably leads to child trafficking abuse and prostitution. Source of external traffickers are Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Benin republic. Some children from Imo and Akwa Ibom states heading to Oron were reportedly intercepted by the Abia state command of the Nigeria security and defense corps when they raided a clinic in Enugu and arrested subsequently, Mrs Uzoma M. suspected to be a traffickers while Mrs Bena Aguoha was said to have bought a one day old baby girl from the owner of the clinic Dr. Kenneth Akume (www.nigeianobservernews/com/accessedjuly8th2009).

This lends credence to the understanding of the importance of anti-child trafficking and abuse campaign role of the Nigerian mass media by looking at the following perspectives.

  • The concept of mass media
  • Child trafficking and abuse.
  • Theoretical frame work / Nigeria mass media interest.
  • He Nigerian mass media as an agent of socialization.
  • The Nigerian mass media contribution in the campaign
  • Barriers to the mass media anti-child trafficking and abuse campaign.
  • The crime nature and legal frame work of child trafficking and abuse.
  • The mass media effect
  • Language and communication.



Dominic (2002:24) defines a medium “as the channel through which a message is sent from the sender to the receiver” the medium is the singular form while media is the plural form. Mass medium consist of the print and electronic media. He maintained that it goes beyond the mechanical devices used in transmitting and storing message. The channels of mass media are as follows: television, radio, film, newspapers, magazines, sound recording and internet.

Baron (2004:21) asserts that in determining the scope and nature of mass media, we should understand that the “enormous part of our lives is spent in interaction with the media. The world is entirely information driven and this lends credence to the role of the media of mass communication which Okunna (2002:45) asserts that “mass media is a means of reaching a mass heterogenous audience simultaneously. According to Okunna (1999) the mass media performs a number of function ranging from information, education and entertainment while Moemeka cited in Okunna (2002:24) listed the mass media functions as surveillance, correlation, socialization and entertainment.


The mass media especially the press has an ethical obligation to the society that sets them up. This brings to mind the “social responsibility theory” that came into being in 1947 through the instrumentality of the Hutchins commission. The press has responsibility to give voice to the society but the inability of the press at that time to live up to their expectation.

Section 39 of the 1999 constitution stipulates, “the right or freedom of expression, freedom to hold opinions of expression, freedom to receive, impact ideas and information. The democratic participant theory throws more light to the media’s interest in the fight against child trafficking and abuse. The theory is concerned with the peoples right to relevant information, right to use the media and rejects the uniformed exorbitant professionalized state owned media. It also reveals that the media are the mouth piece of those in the grass root level. However the media are not unaware of the fact that they are the eye of the society and are veritable tools to advocate for children’s right to life and prevent child trafficking and abuse.


According to Robert (1971:210) says: Socialization is the gradual process of learning throughout an individual life span”. This study is anchored on the media as an agent of socialization in view of their role in the anti-child trafficking and abuse. However the study is very vital because it is evidently clear that the media is a great potential for transmission of information and belief from one group to another. The family is the primary socialization agent. But there is no gain saying the fact that the media can evaluate individual on the inherent dangers in child trafficking and abuse. The media also avails individual with the opportunity of knowing the scourge as a crime and the severity the punishment would entail on an offender so as to deter intending persons from committing such nefarious act.


Dominic (2002) “The role that the mass media plays in our society would be imagined, what is would be like if all of a sudden that whole system never existed”. He maintained that the mass media are pervasive in our lives.

Okunna (2003:274) listed the mass media functions as that of surveillance and entertainment, Njoku (1994) says: “the media is equally known for its surveillance function which is monitoring of events and reporting to its audience. In view of child abuse and trafficking, the media is making a tremendous effort in reporting news stories about the menace and creating awareness about its suffen upsellg*****.

The front*** media have made some notable impacts in their reportage with some of their reports. Agency arrests the human traffickers, Rescuers 12 victims same Akpe. The punch news papers of May 24, 2004. human Trafficking case Adjoined till October, 7th and 8th. The punch news paper October, 5th 2004. human trafficking victims rescued in Ogun, daily Independent January 4, 2010 100 fewer than 29 victims of human trafficking were rescued in Ogun state in 2009.

In the same vein, the orient radio station Owerri airs the programme called “know your right” which discusses right of young people. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) channel 22 Owerri hooks with the national station to air the programme entitled “you need to know” this programmes addresses child abuse issues.

Therefore, the study attempts to investigate the role of the Nigerian mass media in their quest to fight child trafficking and abuse.


The federal government has not performed exceedingly well in assisting the media in their anti-child abuse and trafficking campaign. Several blames have been apportioned to the federal government and the media for their inability to establish, maintain secure communication to facilitate the rapid exchange of information concerning offenses, conduct research and improving international co-operation in the suppression of child trafficking and abuse poverty, ignorance, illiteracy and low rate of education in the country continues barriers. Also the media’s poor attitude of giving little air time to programmes relating to child trafficking and abuse must be corrected.


Crime is an act of omission which renders the offenders liable to offense against the state. A crime can mean in this context as anything that is immoral. The UN protocol against trafficking in persons, in effect since December 2003, makes human trafficking a crime and child abuse.

Olujuwon (2008) provides some legal framework under which the media can carry out their role in anti-child trafficking abuse campaign unhindered.

  1. The ECOWAS declaration and plan of action against trafficking persons.
  2. The 1926 slavery convention entered into force on 1927
  3. 1984 universal declaration of human right.
  4. 1989 covenant on the right of child entered into force on 2nd September 1990.
  5. 1990 the African charter on the right and welfare of the child enter into force on 29th November, 1999 (30th May 2001 Nigeria).


The importance of communication and the mass media effect in our society and entire lives cannot be dismissed by the mere hand. This of course, must come to play as we look into the role of the Nigerian mass media in their anti-child trafficking and abuse campaign. Okonkwo (2006:51) says “effects of the media is their capability to shape the thoughts, attitudes and actions of the recipients” the maintained that, to shape their action is regarded as the behavioural aspect of the mass media effects. Feed back mechanism is also vital in determining the media effect. Feedback refers to the response of the receiver after the subsequent messages of the source. Agenda setting theory can illuminate our understanding on the effect of mass media message the theory states that the media may not tell us what to think but the media will certainly tell us what to think about. Notwithstanding the media can set the agenda of the campaign as audience will learn about the issue from the media contents and its position in the anti-child trafficking and abuse campaign.


Baran (2002:4) defines communication as the transmission of a message from a source to a receive Harold Lasswell (1998:4) cited in Baran asserts “A convenient way to describe communication is to answer these questions. Who says what?  Through which channel? To whom? And with what effect? He maintained that mass communication is a process of creating shared meaning between the mass audience.

Language according to Wolf (1979:9) is primarily a means of conveying meaning from person to another. The role of the mass media campaign can be seen in the anti-child trafficking and abuse campaign through the instrumentality of communication whether verbal or non verbal communication.

The use of native language in educating and dissemination of information to individuals as regards to the dangers inherent in child trafficking and abuse and the arousing of the government consciousness and non-governmental bodies on the need to put a stop to this deadly scorge****. A medium that is affordable and can beat barriers to penetrate the rural areas can make the most effect. The need for native language can in no small measure be undermined.

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