THE PSYCHOSOCIAL EFFECT OF INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN OYO STATE
The study examined the psychosocial effect of the institutionalization of orphans and vulnerable children in Oyo state. The specific objectives were to determine the socio-demographic characteristics of the inmates, to determine the psychological effect of institutionalization of these children, to determine the social effect of institutionalization of these children, to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of institutionalization with reference to the selected institutions and to identify the emotional and behavioral problems associated with institutionalization of orphans and vulnerable children.
The study reviewed two theories namely rational choice theory of Institutionalization and psychosocial development. The study made use of primary data, through structured questionnaire, to collect data from respondents. Descriptive statistics and Pearson(r) moment correlational analysis were used to analyze the data. The ethical principles of research was observed. The population of the study comprised inmates registered in the selected governmental and non-governmental formal institutional care facilities as well as their care givers in Oyo State, Nigeria while the sample size is 200 orphans.
The finding revealed that majority of the children agree to statement relating psychological and social conditions but no significant relationship was established between psychosocial factors and institutionalization of children.
The study concluded that psychological variable such as self-concept,/regards, depression, stress, history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as social factors such as social support, parenting style, low social economic status etc contribute immensely to institutionalization of orphans vulnerable children.
The study recommended that: Orphans and vulnerable children should be proper catered and cared for by the government and non-governmental agency; Proper psychological and social intervention should be organized especially for children with history of some psychological distress; More funds should be allocated for children’s wellbeing especially those at the orphanage home; Support should be given to those children at the orphanage home.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In the Nigerian Society, the child is highly cherished, not only by parents but also by the family, the community in general and by the state (Okunola 2001). It is equally the cultural norm that the care and upbringing of the child is shared by all the family and community. However, the family has in the last few decades undergone changes in its formation and structure and consequently in functions to such an extent that the traditional security usually provided by the family is disappearing.
There are children who do not have the benefits of suitable and stable homes either because of incidence of abandonment by mother, death of parents, single parenthood, death or long absence of one of the parents from home due to hospitalization, imprisonment or related factors and lost children especially in the time of disaster or armed conflicts. These children are in vulnerable conditions.
Care for children separated from their parents have been shouldered by the extended family before the creation of formal institutional care facilities. These children now become burden to the family members. Opined by Tagurum et al, 2015, one study ranks Nigeria’s orphans and vulnerable children burden higher than several countries facing war, such as Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, and Syria. One in every 10 households in the country is also estimated to be providing care for an orphan (Marsden and Miller 2011). Many have believed that placing orphans and vulnerable children in care has solved all of their problems but this study proves the contrary.
Orphans and vulnerable children include not only children who are biologically orphans following parental death, but also children considered vulnerable to shocks that jeopardize their health and well-being, such as the chronic illness of a parent, or other household factors. The concept vulnerability with regard to young people imply the ones who are more exposed to risks than their peers. They can be vulnerable in deprivation (food, education, and parental care), exploitation, abuse, neglect, violence, and infection with HIV. The 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) found that the percentage of orphaned children increases rapidly with age, from 4.2 percent among children under age five to 16.1 percent among children age 15-17. Data also indicate that urban children are slightly more likely to be orphaned than rural children (7 and 5 percent respectively).
Psychosocial health includes four important components of well-being; a state of mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.
Institutionalization, a process of developing or transforming rules and procedures that influence a set of human interactions (Hans Keman), though beneficial because it removes orphans from streets and prevents vulnerable children from abusive parents, research has shown that it can never be compared to being raised by caring parents in a caring home. Children who are deprived of the parental care and a secure family environment often become vulnerable to a host of psychological problems and psychiatric disorders (Kaur R, Vinnakota A, Panigrahi S, Manasa R V 2018). An array of research findings has established that institutional care for children regardless of the status of the care facility has far reaching psychosocial and emotional damages on the children (Browne 2009; Dziro and Rufurwokuda 2013). Comparing Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the situation is quite similar because research has shown that children in residential care are more psychologically disturbed compared to those in community home based care unit.
A child’s early experiences determine their future psychological, emotional, social functioning as individuals in their adulthood life. Sabotage of psychosocial wellbeing of children can occur due to painful and bad childhood experiences. Psychosocial wellbeing affects children’s ability, intellectuality, productivity and social functionality. Orphans experience sorrow, anxiety, depression, lack of support and care. The trauma of losing parents can have adverse psychosocial effects on children like feelings of mistrust, inferiority, shame, guilt, insecurity and improper conduct
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development estimates that there are 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children nationwide. The children face enormous challenges to their health and development and it is estimated that 95 percent of orphans and vulnerable children do not receive any form of medical, emotional, social, material or school-related assistance (National Population Commission, Federal Republic of Nigeria, and ICF International 2013). Institutional care has remained in use even after researchers have found it to be undesirable and the least option for the continuum of care. It is then the second best alternative to children in need of care.
These orphans and vulnerable children are usually cared for in institutional homes set up by either the government or private agencies, which provide some semblance of order into their lives. Efficiently caring for the materialistic needs of the children cause individuals to ignore the psychological needs of these children. International and national children’s rights groups argue that institutional care compromises children’s future as well as cheat them of their future. They also report that child care facilities pose serious threats to the psycho-social, emotional and in some severe cases, physical well-being of children.
A number of problems may arise in these institutional homes, such as; the problems of overcrowding, inadequate personal attention, poor academic environment, frequent moves may affect the psychosocial health of these children.
Hence, the need to highlight the psychosocial effects of institutionalization on orphans and vulnerable children in these selected institutional care facilities.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine the psychosocial effects of institutionalization on orphans and vulnerable children in selected orphanages in Oyo State.
Specific Objective: the specific objectives for the study are:
To determine the socio-demographic characteristics of the inmates.
To determine the psychological effect of institutionalization of these children
To determine the social effect of institutionalization of these children
To highlight the advantages and disadvantages of institutionalization with reference to the selected institutions.
To identify the emotional and behavioral problems associated with institutionalization of orphans and vulnerable children.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions were raised:
What are the socio-demographic characteristics of the children in the selected homes
Does institutionalization affect the children psychologically?
Does institutionalization affect the children socially?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of institutionalization?
What are the behavioral and emotional problems resulting from institutionalization.
How equipped are the institutions in the psychological and emotional needs in the children?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The study hypothesizes the following that:
1. There is no significant trend in the socio-demographic characteristics of the children in the selected homes.
2. There is no significant relationship between institutionalization and the psychological condition of the children.
3. There is no significant relationship between institutionalization and the social condition of the children.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study is to find out the effects, of committing orphans and vulnerable children to the care of a specialized institution on the psychosocial functioning.
The governmental and non-governmental organizations will benefit from this study because it will bring to their notice the unattended psychosocial health of children and not just merely the provision of materialistic things and help them deal with this problem.
The councilors and school social workers will benefit from this study so they will be aware of underlying issues when working with delinquent, harmful or children who abuse substances.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
This study will cover the research on the various psychosocial effects on orphans and vulnerable children in selected formal institutional care facilities in Oyo State. 10 Orphanage homes was used in the study to make the research robust (Arrow of God Orphanage, Mercy and love Orphanage, Peculiar Saints orphanage, Olive bloom orphanage, Love home orphanage, Vigilant heart orphanage, Royal diamond orphanage, Citadel of grace mission, Heritage homes orphanage, Destiny child orphanage).
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. Psychosocial: A bridging concept for psychological and social condition
Psychological: relating to the state of mind of the respondents
Social: referring to the relationship of the respondents with others
2. Institutionalization: provision of a formal residential care for children in need of care, protection and control.
3. Orphanages/ children’s homes: are the institutions established by the government (public) or
Non-governmental agencies (private) to provide care, protection, and support to orphans and vulnerable children.
4. Orphans and Vulnerable Children: includes not only children who are biologically orphans following parental death, but also children considered vulnerable to shocks that jeopardize their health and well-being, such as the chronic illness of a parent, or other household factors
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