Child abuse is not discipline or African, it is simply cruelty to children!

Nigerian couple who beat their six children jailed after Coronation Street barmaid Michelle Collins gave evidence against them


  • Couple beat their children with brooms, hoovers and wires, claiming they were possessed by evil spirits
  • They gave their baby morphine overdose after her first birthday
  •  ‘I am beaten without mercy’, said an SOS note written by one of the children
  •  Parents alleged Miss Collins wanted to ‘steal’ their children
  •  ‘We are innocent, this is a miscarriage of justice’, screamed the couple as they left court…


Yes, it hurts me personally and in every humane way possible when abused children are not believed when they finally find the courage to speak out. It also hurts me to no end that in the part of the continent I come from, people define ‘child abuse’ in a different way and conveniently brush it aside by calling it discipline!

It is indeed sad that some Nigerians consider this case as ‘culture clash’ and even racial discrimination!

To many Nigerians, it is considered normal for pastors to accuse children of witchcraft and slap them in churches. It is considered OK  for prophets to take children to beach sides and beat them mercilessly while their parents shout “Hallelujah”, under the ‘acceptable disguise’ of casting out evil spirits from the children.

No, these are not rare occurrences, as I wrote in a previous post, these things happen almost every minute of the day, just visit Lagos Bar Beach!

Parents beat their children with brooms, cut them with sharp objects and inflict all sorts of injuries on their children and wards, all in the name of discipline and these are normally the same parents who steal in their workplaces and brag about their 419 activities in front of their children.

In public schools, teachers think it is OK to beat children in their care, the bigger the cane/rod, the more feared the teacher. Unfortunately many teachers and even parents in Nigeria do not appreciate that there is a difference between fear and respect. BTW, I attended a public school in Nigeria, so I know what I am talking about… and yes, cos of that experience I never allowed my child to go to a public school, even if it meant working myself to death to afford private schools where I can very well tell the teachers, “lay a finger on my child, I’ll get my child out of the school and we will meet in court!”.

No, abuse is not the same as discipline; transferred aggression is all too common in our society. Teachers and parents are not exempted and adults in authority tend to abuse the privilege since it is considered rude for a child to talk back or contradict an adult.


In the case of this couple, I would ask, were there injury marks on the bodies of the children? The article said there were, to quote the article-

 Revealing scars the eldest said her mother had hit her with a cable, a broom, and a hoover and her father had dangled her by her feet down the stairwell of the house, tied her hands behind her back and her legs together ‘to get the devilish spirits out’, prosecutor Emma Smith said.
Her sister, who was seven at the time, had a stick shaped bruise of her thigh and after a few months in care, she drew a series of pictures showing her dad beating her and her being left home alone and including a speech bubble saying “I’m hungry”.

These are PHYSICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL indications of child abuse.

Should the geographical location, race or skin colour of children determine whether the children have been abused? No, every child matters! If such abuses would never be tolerated from white parents, why should it be tolerated because the parents of the children concerned are black?

When we look beyond skin colour and race issues and look at every PERSON, first and foremost, as a HUMAN BEING with rights, respect and dignity, then we will understand that we ought to stand up for the vulnerable, without asking the question… “What is their race, gender or sexual orientation?”

My heart goes out this minute to every child experiencing child abuse and too scared to speak out and to those children who have spoken out but are being told to shut up by adults around them.




  1. gwen says

    You can change that to ‘African-American’ and it is the same conversation/argument I have with my fellow AAs. You don’t need to beat a child to ‘make’ them behave. I believe the most important thing you can teach your child is to think for themselves. You can’t do that by beating the initiative out of them. In California, corporal punishment has been outlawed for at least 30 years. Unfortunately, some states still allow it, and in these states, a teacher leaving the same bruising which would get a parent thrown in jail, gets a pass in the name of discipline.

  2. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @gwen- Unfortunately corporal punishment is deemed necessary in most schools in Africa. Students fear their teachers more than they respect them, all because of the scary long cane they wield. The sad part is, if many school children were asked to draw their teachers, they’d probably draw them holding a cane not a book. 🙁

  3. says

    This is something that saddens me immensely, and I regard it as absolutely crucial to the ongoing struggle for universal human rights that the rights of children to be free from physical and psychological abuse be respected. Actions speak louder than words. The parent or teacher may be verbalizing lessons about respect, but their actions communicate a more important lesson, namely, that might makes right and violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts. These ideas, of power being justification for violence and hierarchical respect by the weak for the strong, are major obstacles to achieving racial equality, women’s equality, and in general respect and equality for everyone.

    My boyfriend, who is African-American, was regularly beaten with a belt by his mother and father as a child. This experience has twisted his perceptions of love, family, and healthy relationships. He’s still healing from it. It’s so unnecessary, and so sad.

  4. gwen says

    @SallyStrange--I learned not to use corporal punishment from my mother. She used it liberally, but it was not effective at all. I would do something wrong—> feel guilty —> get spanked —> guilt gone —-> go do it again! My mother was not a very big woman, and the spankings after we turned about 10 didn’t really hurt. We knew she was angry, and it was easier just to pretend to cry to get it over. Eventually, she would tire of the cycle, and use the threat “Just wait until your father gets home!” …which would really get our attention, because instead of a spanking, he would sit us down and tell us how disappointed he was in our behavior…problem solved. But my mom never learned to use that tactic, which would have saved her a lot of grief. I put it to work with my children when they were young and would explain to them what was wrong with the behavior. I believe teaching my children to think for themselves and solve problems is the greatest responsibility you have as a parent. I am also African American.

  5. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @SallyStrange- In most African countries including my homeland Nigeria, the belt is seen as an instrument of torture, a child would be right to think the main purpose of the belt is to torture children. Parents freely enjoy the implied right to torture their children with belt and teachers enjoy the right to beat their students silly with cane. It is all about authority. I often wonder what joy someone in a position of authority derives from physically overpowering a child who actually cannot do the adult any physical harm. It is sadistic, it also passes across a message that violence is the solution and that one can only survive by brutal force.

    Children deserve to be protected from the warped sense of discipline of adults, including their parents, teachers and religious figures.

  6. says

    I agree, fear and discipline cannot be equated with respect. If a child does something because they fear you, it does not mean that they respect you. Respect comes from love and a child’s own will.

    I found it very interesting that you commented on the stigmatization of children believed to be witches. This is an issue that plagues the country and threatens future generations.


  7. kenneth irabor says

    While I appreciate Yemisi’s concerns, and the need to eliminate all forms of child abuse, it must be stated that it is incorrect to take exception as the general rule. I am writing from Lagos Nigeria, where I live with my wife and children. Children are treasures to be adored, and we love them. Yemisi should know that culture is dynamic and the concept of child discipline, even in Nigeria has advanced from when she was in school, and is advancing still. We have the Child’s Rights Act in Nigeria for erring parents. I am aware that some parents/guardians have served terms.

    It requires education, a lady I once encountered who just completed her sentence, said she thought she was helping people, but before she knew it, she was in kirikiri prison [hers was not physical abuse]

    What I am saying is that child abuse by parents is exception not the general practice in Nigeria.

  8. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @kenneth irabor- Are you seriously saying child abuse in Nigeria is an exception not the rule? A simple Google of the term ‘Child Abuse in Nigeria’ would provide you with enough research and statistic to question the very thought, not to mention validity of that incredulous statement.

    Every research, including very recent researches point to the fact that Child Abuse is prevalent in Nigeria. We need drastic effort to combat this, including education.

    Before you try to launder the image of a country sodden with child abuse, you need to truthfully ask yourself the following:

    -- Do parents get charged to court, face or even fear any repercussion when they physically abuse their children in the name of discipline? This includes using bells, canes and subjecting the child to excessive corporal punishment.

    -- Do teachers still not use the cane as a form of discipline in public schools and even in many private schools?

    -- Do teachers not subject pupils to hours of corporal punishment including knelling in the hot sun, with hands raised or in some other grueling positions?

    -- Are there no longer rampant cases of religious figures that use their position to abuse children?

    In Nigeria, children, especially children of the poor are often accused of witchcraft. Did you not watch the infamous video of Pastor Oyedepo slapping a young girl amidst public applause?

    Is Pastor Helen Okpabio facing any criminal charge in Nigeria for all the children she has labeled as witches and the abuse she subjects those poor children to?

    Nigerians watch and applaud pastors who publicly physically and psychologically abuse children, it is the norm not the exception.

    The fact that you encountered a single case of a lady who served sentence for child abuse (which you also said was not physical abuse or did you mean to say not sexual abuse?) does not negate the prevalence of child abuse in Nigeria.

    I worked full time in Nigeria until 2011. My son had his nursery/primary and secondary education in private schools in Nigeria, but even then, i had course to visit the schools to lay down my policy of non physical punishment.

    Do not in an effort to launder the sodden image of Nigeria, bury your head in the sand about the disturbing plight of children in Nigeria. Children deserves better.

  9. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @kenneth irabor- BTW, as program officer and a board member of a few gender coalitions that spearheaded the campaign for Child’s Rights Act, I helped work on the draft of the Child Rights Acts, organise advocacy workshops to promote it and attended hearings leading to its adoption.

    The Child rights Act was finally passed in 2003. Only 16 out of the 36 states in Nigeria have adopted the law. And even most of the states that adopted the law did so AFTER AMENDING the original bill. The amendments, they claim, was to preserve some parts of culture and traditional practices to appease the traditionalists.

    Even though we have the child Rights Acts, attitudes towards child protection in Nigeria is still very bad. Progress if made at all, is still very slow.

    There is also the recently introduced Lagos state Law against Domestic Abuse, that law is still very much underutilized because of so called culture and tradition and the unwillingness of the police force to interfere in domestic violence.

    Recently a gender/lawyers organization I work with in Lagos provided shelter for an abused woman and her sexually abused 3 year old daughter, which was discovered after the child had recurring STDs. The child BTW was abused by her father. The father, who happened to be a wealthy, influential Lagosian was charged to court under the Domestic law but guess what? In the usual influential Nigerian style, he tried his best to influence even where the case would be heard and which magistrate presides over it. He also sued and accused the organization of kidnapping his wife and children.

    Due to pressure and the refusal of the man to continue paying the school fees of the children, the woman left the shelter and returned to the house where she and her 3 year old daughter was abused., and most probably still being abused.

    This BTW, is not an isolated case, there are many cases of domestic abuse involving adults that the law enforcement agency shy away from. They claim it is a family affair and In the case of Child abuse, it is worse. This is so because people think it is a fundamental right of parents to discipline their children the way they see fit and if that include beating the children with canes or lashing at them with belts, well, the neighbor would look the other way and the police will say, it is a family matter.

    Parents, teachers and religious figures are all culprits in the prevalence of child abuse in Nigeria. Do not try to downplay child abuse in Nigeria just to launder an already sodden image. Ignoring the facts does not make the problem go away.

  10. kenneth irabor says

    I maintain that child abuse is not as ubiquitous as you want it to be believed. As a matter of fact, without proper family foundation, child rights and protection will be illusion. Your Atheist and Gay rights advocacy is paradoxical to the rights of the child. Notwithstanding the over estimation, it would be good to focus on the child and drop the claptrap about homosexuality not being un-African. Merry Xmas

  11. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @kenneth irabor- Oh what ignorant bullshit you spew! First, even in the face of evidence, you still ignore facts about the prevalence of child abuse in Nigeria. And now by your own bizarre reasoning, you accuse Atheists and homosexuals of threatening family value and contributing to child abuse. What BOLLOCKS!

    I could give you the facts you need about how homosexuality is neither Un-African nor a threat to family values, but since you have shown that you do not value facts or reason, that would be a wasted effort on my part. As Thomas Paine said, “Reasoning with someone who does not value reason is like administering medicine to a dead person”

    BTW,thanks for the Merry Xmas wish. As you celebrate the season , just remember that it is a day that celebrates a child named Jesus who was said to be born to 2 dads, God and Jesus via a surrogate mother named Mary. Seems the child with two dads still turned out well and did not rock your precious family value. Merry Christmas. 🙂

  12. kenneth irabor says

    Madam, it is exception. Child abuse is not prevalent in Nigeria. [The poor should be taught the danger in their excess] How many churches do we have in Nigeria? No, in Lagos. How many of them abuse children as witches? I serve as a Pastor in my church, [Recovery House -- Clay Temple Ministry] we value and treasure children as gifts from God. We see them as children of God, we [parents] are mere stewards, accountable to God for their lives. We do not want anyone to tell them that homosexuality is alright. And it is wrong to say that Bishop Oyedepo abuse children -- it has not happened in that church otherwise we would read about it. The case of the young lady is also exception in the Bishop’s church, it doesn’t happen regularly. àn isolated case is not a general rule] She is an adult, and I am aware she went to court, and the suit was struck out on technicality. [there was no arrangement or man know man]. I know the young man who handled the case, and he also granted interview to the press on his error. I read that the young lady reconciled with her Bishop.

    Anyone advocating for the well being of children should be commended, so I appreciate your efforts in this regard. But abuse should be properly defined. Unveil programmes to teach proper parenting. Parents should exercise godly authority over their children or they will fail God in the sacred assignment of raising godly children. Our children should not be taught that there is no God, they should not be taught that gay practice, same sex marriage is alright because of self aggrandizement, gay couple should have their own children if it is alright, and should not be allowed to adopt the children of God. This folly should not be brought here. Even animals dont practice homosexuality -- See how man has degenerated. It is not alright madam.

  13. kenneth irabor says

    You are a lawyer Yemmy, so use parliamentary diction, if you are unprepared to be civil, I think I’d discontinue in the circumstances. So go on, child abuse is everywhere in Nigeria -- everywhere! homes, churches, mosques, schools, theatres, restaurants, no safety for children in Nigeria. Does that make you happy? Yet not true, and you know it. I’ve seen no facts but distortions. Bishop David Oyedepo saga I have put in proper perspective based on my knowledge, not emotion. I do not worship in that church, so I am not induced. If your deliberate distortion/embelishment of the the birth of Jesus is the justification of your encouragement of gay practice, there is work to be done. Accept my regards.

  14. Ekuba says

    Dear ‘Pastor’ kenneth irabor:

    You’re such an ignorant person that it saddens me that you claim to be a ‘pastor’. I can only imagine the untruths you feed your congregation daily. How can you lie and say that ‘even animals don’t practice homosexuality’ when scientists have discovered over 1,500 species of animals who engage in homosexual intercourse? But I’m sure bigoted people like you choose to ignore such scientific facts.

    Next, you proceeded to lie that the girl Oyedepo slapped was an adult & that she went to court etc. The girl in question never went to court. Lawyer Igbinedion sued Oyedepo on behalf of the girl but the case was dismissed by the Ogun State High Court because the girl did not come to court & so the court said that she was a ‘ghost victim’. This was despite the fact that Oyedepo had been captured on video assaulting the said girl making it obvious that she exists. In the circumstances it is not hard to see how Oyedepo won this case. Oyedepo is the richest pastor in Nigeria (according to Forbes) with access to the best lawyers. While the girl in question, patently looked like a poor girl who is probably dependent on the very people who brought her to church that day to be abused! How would she have the courage to come to court to face up to such a person?

    As for your claims that child abuse is rare in Nigeria, it’s hilarious at best. You see, my dear ‘Pastor’, as educated people, we must analyze issues with proven facts & not with stories from your Recovery House chapel, lol. Studies by ILO, revealed that 15 million children under the age of 14 in Nigeria are engaged in child labor. UNICEF has recorded 39% of children being married before they turn 18 & 30% being subjected to FGM. These are alarming figures! I’ve not even talked about violent abuse.

    So to conclude, I have one tip for you, kindly use Google & other research tools to cross-check your statements before you make them so that you don’t end up embarrassing yourself as you’ve done today 🙂 Regards to you too!

  15. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    Thanks @Ekuba for setting this willfully ignorant ‘Pastor’ Kenneth Irabor straight! It is sad that he is so proud of his ignorance and even sadder that he most likely would pass such ignorance to people who look up to him, including vulnerable children in his care. It also baffles me why believers choose to tell blatant lies even in the face of evidence that proves them wrong. If only the likes of ‘Pastor’ kenneth Irabor would learn to appreciate facts, we would be a step closer to solving the many problems facing our country.

  16. kenneth irabor says

    Ebuka how old was the lady? If Igbinedion went to Court without the victim, who are the witnesses who who signed the witness’ statement for Mr. Igbinedion? If Ogun State High Court dismised a suit that was not ripe for hearing on the ground that the Claimant was not in Court, what did you do?

    That I said child abuse is not as prevalent as Yemi wants the world to believe cannot be interpreted to mean that it is rare. I said that child abuse is not prevalent, it is exception. Instead of shouting child abuse, unveil plan to educate those who abuse children.

    Ebuka, what I am saying is that child abuse should be properly defined. I

  17. kenneth irabor says

    Ebuka, why not conduct or commission your own research, and give us data. Child marriage is wrong, but it requires education to correct the wrong. What are you doing? No well informed person would marry off under eighteen daughter; so what are you doing? The people involved are not reading Yemi’s fabulous blog posts. If you and Yemi consider me ignorant, i take that as my personal misfortune, but I have no regret. Isn’t it quite ironic that the watch dog of human rights is disinclined to listening constructive voice of dissents? I am unmoved by platitudes. Child abuse is not everywhere. We have good children departments in every church called junior church or children church, where children are taught godly values. They are not abused.

    What is child labour Ebuka? If mummy T has a retail shop in front of her house, and because she is cooking, T attends to the customer, is this child labour? Definition is critical. Season’s greeting to Ebuka and Yemmy. No acrimony, just my honest opinion, and Yemmy doesn’t have to be so belligerent.

  18. Myself says

    I am married to a Nigerian. We have three children, I am a European.

    It is awful how they view child abuse and excuse ist as “disciline”

    Beating is forbidden here by law. My husband views it as a licence to children and “the law forbids us do discipline our children”.

    I regret to have gotten married to a Nigerian. I loved Africans before marrige. Now I have difficulty because most I know are abusing wifes and children.

    It is a pity that it is not possible in this country to view children in a different non abusive way. They are not our slaves.

  19. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Davidson George -- Slavery is barbaric and despicable. You should not be thanking anyone or anything (real or imagined) whom you think was responsible for the centuries of slave trade that dehumanised your ancestors. That is some warped thinking on your part, you really need to emancipate yourself from mental slavery.

  20. Risa says

    I’m christian, and i believe the “rod” has been thoroughly abused by parents. You’re spot on with this, as this is a widespread attitude accross africa, not just nigeria (im zambian). Its an accepted belief that children are the property of parents and that parents are always right and children have nothing worthy to say and should stay silent. Among african christians, this is disturbing, because not even God treats us that way. God, an infinite being, allows us our will, wrong or right, yet christian african parents have a control freak mentality meant to forcefully subdue those under their authority.

  21. Chidi Ugwunna says

    Hello I just want to say this in Love and not hate because I’m a Christian
    I feel your concern about parents being so harsh on kids in Nigeria. I feel your concern about how school authorities in Nigeria especially secondary schools both government and private how they are overdoing their punishment strategies over there
    Believe me I have seen it.I went to school in Nigeria in the 1980s I have even seen fellow students brutally punish each other namely Classes 4 and 5 I did not like it at all I felt it was inhumane back then.

    Let’s not go to the other extreme children still need to be guided in the right direction not brutally but in love sometimes they
    Need coparal punishment not brutally but with love so that they can be good citizens in society they definitely need to be taught about God and His Love I work for the Public Schools here in the States I have seen how giving kids too much power backfires
    Please be balanced don’t go to the other extreme


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