AN ASSESSMENT OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION ON THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA IN THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST CHILD LABOUR IN NIGERIA SOCIETY
1.1 Background of the study
The media, especially with regard to children, is a potent tool for educating the public about their rights. Oyero & Salawu (2018) noted that broadcast journalists have a duty to delve into issues of societal atrocities involving children through plays, documentaries, and news. Getting delicate tales, like child abuse, into these situations of societal abuse is essential. Tales like this have a profound influence on how society views children, which in turn has a significant impact on how adults behave. In order to prevent additional exploitation of these youngsters who have already suffered severe harm as a result of the abuse they experienced, media professionals must raise public awareness of these children's difficulties. According to Oyero et al., the media offers a singular channel for elevating child-related concerns in the public conversation.
The Oslo Challenge was introduced by the Norwegian government and UNICEF in response to this reality as a call to action to ensure that the media's enormous potential for positive influence on children's lives is acknowledged, encouraged, and supported while any potential negative effects are minimised. The statement that Nigerian youngsters endure a variety of difficulties as they navigate life is correct in this sense. It's strange that Nigeria consistently ranks among the worst countries in the world in rankings pertaining to children, including child labour, child health, and out-of-school children. There are many challenges involving children that demand the immediate attention of stakeholders both inside and outside the nation in order for the nation to restore its reputation as one that meets the needs and safeguards the innocence of its children. So, it was necessary to encourage moral behaviour in the media to prevent sensationalism, stereotyping, and disregard for the rights of children (Child Rights International Network [CRIN], 2009).
Oyero and Salawu (2018) noted that among the most destitute species on earth, the African child numbered in the millions because they are born and raised in extreme poverty, denied an education, suffer from various illnesses, malnutrition and discrimination, and even abandoned and vulnerable to so many abuses, such as child labour and being used as child soldiers in war. According to Satz (2015), outlawing child labour won't solve other issues like poverty, poor democratic institutions, discrimination within families, racial tensions, inadequate human rights protection, or properly educated children. Yet widespread media coverage has the potential to raise public awareness. Because of the campaign's enormous effect, poor parents may be encouraged to oppose child labour or not. In order to encourage impoverished parents to refrain from child labour, study is required about the extent of the mass media's power and its reach.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Importantly, the idea of child safety is frequently only a pipe dream, and society's own institutions discourage efforts to improve the situation that children are in. According to Uzochukwu, Morah, and Okafor (2015), Nigeria was one of the 11 nations with the worst rates of child labour according to Maplecroft's (2013) data. They saw that kids are denied basic human rights like schooling and roam aimlessly through filthy environments. The Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 mandates free and compulsory education for the first nine years of a child's academic career; however, despite the Act's passage, approximately 11 million children of school age are reportedly not enrolled in any formal educational institution (Adedokun, 2013), and the situation has not improved as of yet. The Organisation of African Unity, which later changed its name to the African Union, established a charter on the rights and welfare of African children in Addis Abeba in 1990 as part of its Heads of State Summit, according to Awosola and Omoera (2008). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, from which the charter was created, takes into account the sociocultural traits that are typical of African children. As a result of their particular socioeconomic, cultural, traditional, and developmental circumstances, as well as natural disasters, armed conflicts, exploitation, and hunger, it is noted that the majority of African children still face a dire situation. Because of this, it is noted that these children require special protections and care. Due to the ongoing difficulties that Nigerian children face, it is the responsibility of the media to promote change by bringing to light important problems that might improve their standard of living. Yet unexpectedly, the Nigerian media is not living up to its responsibilities in supporting the fate of the Nigerian kid. By in-depth reporting, public awareness campaigns, and strategic placement of child-related topics, the media may contribute to improving the situation of Nigerian children. If the intended change is to be made, the nature of such problems is also crucial. Based on this justification, this study investigates how the general public views the role of the media in the fight against child labour in Nigerian society.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of the study is focused on public perception on the role of mass media in the campaign against child labour in Nigeria society. Other specific objectives include:
To investigate the perception of the masses on the level of publicity media gives on child labour in Nigeria.
To find out whether wide publicity in mass media create awareness among poor parents against child labour in Nigeria.
To ascertain the level at which media enlighten the masses on child right in Nigeria.
To determine the impact of mass media in the campaign against child labour in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Question
What is the perception of the masses on the level of publicity media gives on child labour?
Does the wide publicity in mass media create awareness among poor parents against child labour?
What is the level at which media enlighten the masses on child right in Nigeria?
What is the impact of mass media in the campaign against child labour?
1.5 Significance of the study
The findings of this study will be helpful for higher education level of authorities, mass media activists, human right organizations and other personnel. This study would be helpful for them to deeply understand the promotion of child rights as well as the effort of the national human rights organizations to use the media as a means to achieve their specific goals to ensure equality. Besides achieved the intended goals of child rights of our government and taken full advantages from the investment for mass media campaign to motivate and aware parents; this research study will helpful. Whatever policies are adopted will involve trade-offs between different values. Policymakers need to make explicit the values they want to promote and the trade-offs they are willing to accept. Empirically, the study add to body knowledge and serve as reference material to student and scholars who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study borders on public perception on the role of mass media in the campaign against child labour in Nigeria society. The study further discussed the wide publicity in mass media create awareness among poor parents against child labour and also the level at which media enlighten the masses on child right in Nigeria.The study is however delimited to selected Local government in Akwaibom State.
1.7 Limitation of the study
The researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that media role on Child Labour discourse is vast thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only residents of Uyo Local government in Akwaibom State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other states within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
1.9 Definition of terms
Public: The masses who live in various places, especially those who perceive media message about child labour, child trafficking and child marriage in Nigeria.
Perception: Understanding of something especially media message on child labour, child marriage and trafficking about the general public.
Media: Channels of communication through which the public perceive its message such as information about child labour and other related abuses.
Coverage: Being under focus of media like the case of child Labour, trafficking and early marriage.
Child labour: Any act of making a person under 18 years to work long hours which are harmful to his/her mental, physical and emotional development.
Child Trafficking: Any monetary or non- monetary exchange of children for sexual or military exploitative which can hamper the fundamental rights of children in Nigeria.