On the average, deaths and disability resulting from acts of violence against children costs Nigeria a whopping N1.42tn annually, a report released by UNICEF has revealed.
The amount according to the report is equivalent to 1.6 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.
The report was unveiled on Thursday in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr Olajide Olawale; the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Fall; the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, among other top officials in both the public and private sectors of the economy.
A breakdown of the N1.42tn showed that the cost of physical violence against children alone accounted for N1.01tn. The report stated that 52 per cent of boys and 50 per cent of girls in Nigeria were victims of physical violence prior to the age of 18.
Out of the N1.42tn, the report put the cost of sexual violence against children in Nigeria at N307bn, adding that 11 per cent of boys and 25 per cent of girls in Nigeria were victims of sexual violence before the age of 18.
It said the balance of N91bn was the cost of emotional violence suffered by children in Nigeria. It noted that 20 per cent of boys and 17 per cent of girls in Nigeria were victims of emotional violence prior to the age of 18.
Speaking during the unveiling of the report on the financial benchmark on child protection services and the economic burden of violence against children, Mohammed said that it was important for the country to pay more attention to the issue of child protection in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
He said to address the challenge, there is need for a strong and comprehensive child protection system.
The current budgetary expenditure on child protection according to the UNICEF Representative is currently low as it was less than 0.5 per cent of Nigeria’s total expenditure.
He said, “Currently, government expenditures cover mainly responsive child protection services, thereby neglecting the importance of essential preventive measures like domestication of the Child Rights Act in all 36 states, ensuring universal access to birth registration centre, giving identity to each child and raising awareness of child abuse.
“To implement a comprehensive child protection system with a strong legal foundation, the report not only call for a reallocation of only 0.1 per cent of Nigeria’s budget to child protection services but also importantly highlights the necessity of adequate release of funds during the fiscal year.”