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Domestic Violence as a determinant of the socio emotional development of a secondary school student in the Buea Municipality

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This study aimed at investigating on domestic violence as a determinant of the socio emotional development of a secondary school student in the Buea Municipality. In order for the researcher to carry out an effective work, the following research questions guided the researcher. How does emotional violence affect the socio emotional development of a secondary school student? To what extent does psychological abuse affect the socio emotional development of a secondary school student? Physical violence and its impact on the emotional development of a secondary school student? The researcher used the descriptive survey research design in conduction this study. The simple random sampling technique was used to select the sample. A sample of 90 students were selected from the Faculty of Education. The researcher used closed ended questionnaires to collect data from respondents.  The data was analyzed using Statistic Package for Social Science. However, descriptive analysis was used to analyze and present the findings. The findings revealed that emotional abuse affected the socio emotional development of students. The findings also revealed that psychological abuse affected the socio-emotional development of students in school. It was also seen that the socio-emotional development of students was affected when they experience any form of abuse or domestic violence.  From the findings, some recommendations were made. Despite the fact that students may experience domestic violence, they have to be resilient in order for them to move forward and concentrate on their academics.




Domestic violence is a global and developmental issue cutting across the religious, cultural and aged oriented people in the world.  Domestic violence is one of the most extreme expressions of unequal gender relation in the society and remains a critical factor to look into. In most cases or areas, women and children are the once who suffer domestic violence and are subjected to physical, emotional, social and psychological abuse. In a home where the woman is physically abused she is not the only one who suffer as her children also go through the suffering with her.

As such, this study has five chapters. Chapter one which consist of the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study and operational definition of terms , chapter two will consist of literature review, chapter three will base on research methodology, chapter four will be presentation of data and chapter five will be on discussions, suggestion for further studies and recommendations.

Background to the study

Historically, According to Shreeve 1995, evidence suggesting domestic violence dates back 130000 (One hundred and thirty thousand) years ago in the Netherlands. In Europe violence against women was a common aspect of marriage since medieval era, up till the 19th century. There were no laws in the United Kingdom prohibiting a man from physically abusing his wife (Giddens, 1993). Violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon and derives its roots from the time the society started differentiating roles between women and men where men were perceived as superior which resulted to power imbalance and subsequent abuse (Sampa et al., 1994).  The phenomenon cuts across class, age, race, religion and national classification (GIDD report, 2000).

The American criminal justice in the past did not perceive domestic violence as a crime and not even as a problem even with the woman right movement modified ( Erez, 1986) . In the late 1800s women continued to be abused by their husband and their father . However it became socially unacceptable in the later years as society began to view domestic violence as a problem (Dobash and Dobash , 1979) . After World War Two , studies show that children from abusive homes will usually have criminal behavior in their later life . During the 1900s domestic violence was treated as a family matter but as time progress family violence became an issue with influence of women liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s. (Ryan 1996; Zoroaster,1992). As years progressed domestic violence in America was seen as a criminal act as this attitude towards family violence began changing so did the crime justice system. Two major events identified as bringing about this change include the development of professional police standards and implementation of law enforcement education programs

 Domestic violence is another alarming issue that is prevalent across Africa. A third of all African women had experienced physical or sexual domestic violence. In addition, every eight hours a domestic partner kills a woman in South Africa. Around 51% of African women experience beatings from their husbands. This happens when women go out without permission, neglect the children, argue back, refuse to have sex or burn the food. Often times culture and religion covers some violent practices usually against women in the society from being seen as what it is-violence against women (Mshweshwe, 2020). The fear of going against the culture, traditional and religion of the community cripples the ability to see domestic violence as violence by the weak and vulnerable members of the society (Mshweshwe, 2020). When violence is justified by culture and religion, it becomes accepted and tolerated by members of the society. Culture shapes the attitude and behaviour of members of a society. So a culture that supports and upholds some form of violence against women and young girls, will constitute a social barrier to any effort in eradication of such violent or abusive behaviours by men in the society. Even the vulnerable women and girls will come to accept domestic violence and abusive conducts as normal and good.

Domestic violence occurs among family members or people connected with one form of close relationships or social bonds. In Africa, some of the cultural norms and values support the domination of men over women. Some men hide under such cultural practices to abuse and violate women in rural communities (SWFP, 2013). Men see women as objects of sexuality meant to serve them, without regards to the needs and aspirations of women as human beings. Patriarchy in African society encourages male dominance of women at all times and in all things (Mshweshwe, 2020). This system has made women to accept their precarious position in the society and its consequences as normal. Women are therefore socialized and expected to be timid, shy and sometimes feel inferior to men especially their husbands in the society (Raval and Walker, 2019; Kambarami, 2006; Chirimuuta, 2006).

Conceptually, violence is ubiquitous and it has become a social problem affecting all age groups.
Every year millions of people are killed, handicapped, and injured as a result of domestic violence (Dahlberg, & Krug, 2002). Domestic violence, especially  against children indicates an unequal power relation in different forms including economic status, physical and mental status, gender roles, and cultural and religious traditions.

The relationship between domestic violence and children extends from encountering violence within the society or witnessing domestic violence, to direct exposure to violence as an individual. It is the responsibility of adults to protect children from violence and provide care,
supervision and support as children are easily hurt, vulnerable and susceptible to external
effects (Dahlberg, & Krug, 2002). Protection from violence is a fundamental right of every child. Therefore, a peaceful and healthy living environment which enables the child to maximize his or her potential and supports his or her development should be provided to fulfill children’s physical and psychosocial needs for proper growth and development. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as, “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation” (Dahlberg, & Krug, 2002).

Domestic violence is a wide world public health and criminal justice problem that can take form of physical, sexual, emotional abuse . The majority of victims are women and children and the perpetrators are men and the main contributor to this widespread occurrence of sync violence are attitudes, beliefs and behaviors which envision women and children as the inferior members of the society (Robinson, 2001).. Power differentials in heterosexual relationship, plus a notion that what occurs in a relationship is private , permit violence to continue. Cultural and religious belief can reinforce power imbalance. The consequences of domestic violence uncle physical injury, depression , substance abuse , increased health care utilization . Despite its frequent occurrence domestic violence still go unrecognized by family practitioners and emergency staff. It is important for health care professionals to be knowledgeable in areas of domestic violence. In addition, effective government policies and changes in societal attitude are essential in other to reduce or decrease the prevalence of the problem (Robinson, 2001).

Theoretically, the following theories will be examined in this study; this includes Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory of Development (1979), the Developmental Niche theory by Super and Harkness (1986), and the Theory of Attachment by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. 

Bronfenbrenner’s bio ecological theory of human development posits that human development is comprised of the interactions, or proximal processes, between an individual and the most immediate, frequently experienced aspects of their environment over time (Burstein, Bryan, and Chao, 2005). Domestic violence in a child’s family environment may negatively impact the socio-emotional development of  children as they  become adolescents. As well, such family adversities may also be influenced by the broader neighborhood context (Herman, et; al., 2011). This theory is relevant in this study because it helps us to understand the impact that the home environment has on the development of children as they grow up to be adolescents.

This study also draws inspiration from Super and Harkness developmental Niche theory. Accordings to Super and Harkness, the development of a child falls under three subsystems. This includes the physical and social settings in which the child lives, childcare customs and practices, and lastly the  parents’ psychology. Together, these three subsystems interact to influence child development over time. It is worth noting that, children at all level experience adversities in one form or the other. Parents should understand how the subsystems in this group can affect the way they bring up their children and its impact on their cognitive development, even as they become adolescents.  This theory is relevant in this study because when parents understand the subsystems explained in this theory, they can easily avoid the practice of domestic violence. This theory enables us to understand that domestic violence is not jiust caused by the parents, but sometimes, the culture of that environment. This will go a long way to help us understand how domestic violence affect the socio-emotional development of students.

The last theory in this study is the theory of attachment. Attachment theory, based on the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, posits that infants and children have an inherent, biological motivation, organized by the central nervous system, to maintain close proximity to their caregiver (usually the mother) ( Hall, Porter, Longhi,  Becker-Green, & Dreyfus, 2012). Such proximity ensures survival by allowing a secure space for exploration and a safe heaven for protection in the presence of threat (UN, 2018). During times of stress, a child’s attachment system may be activated as a coping strategy, and he/she will seek protection from the attachment figure to quell the response (UN, 2018). While all children become attached to their caregivers (even children of abuse), not all children are securely attached. Securely attached children are thought to have a mental representation of the attachment figure as responsive to their needs, whereas insecurely attached children lack such a representation (UN, 2018).  This theory is related to this study because when parents are securely attached to their adolescents, they cannot practice domestic violence at home since they love these adolescents. The situation is different when parents are not securely attached to their adolescents. They will easily practice domestic violence at home.

Contextually, Domestic violence is an aspect that that has been frown at by the Cameroon government. Despite the fact that in some homes, domestic violence still prevails, the Ministry of Social Affairs is doing a lot to ensure that they help to educate parents in order for them to avoid domestic violence.  Knowing the consequences of the act on the victims, the government of Cameroon has joint international effort to end it and has also taken measures to adapt international recommendations on diminishing all forms of domestic violence and some of the recommendations made include.  But despite all of this domestic violence is still very much rampant in Cameroon and this is because the laws established are just on piece of paper and not practiced.

Statement of  the Problem

Domestic violence mostly affect women and later on affect children. Children from homes where such is practice turn to develop differently both socially and emotionally. And this development is seen in how they develop low self esteem, they become disrespectful most of the time, and are also aggressive in nature. And it increases in other adversities in their later life. In general, victims of repeated violence experience more serious consequences than victims of one-time incidents. Many children exposed to violence in the home are also victims of physical abuse. Children who witness domestic violence or are victims of abuse themselves are at serious risk for long-term physical and mental health problems. Children who witness violence between parents may also be at greater risk of being violent in their future relationships. If you are a parent who is experiencing abuse, it can be difficult to know how to protect your child. Some victims may engage in high-risk sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, decreased condom use, early sexual initiation, choosing unhealthy or multiple sexual partners, or trading sex for food, money, or other items. There is often an increased use of harmful substances and illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, and driving while intoxicated. Victims of intimate partner violence may also engage in unhealthy diet-related behaviors such as smoking, fasting, vomiting, overeating, and abuse of diet pills. They may also overuse health services.

It is the responsibility of parents to bring up their children in the right way, show them love and prot4ect them from all forms of violence that they may experience at home. When parents fail in that role, the  adolescents will be exposed to domestic violence which has severe impact on their development, especially socio-emotional development. Some adolescents may find it difficult to interact with others in the society due to depress or anxiety. Domestic violence might cause others to be afraid or even trust no one in the social setting.  It is due to this and many more that the researcher decided to investigate on how domestic violence act as a determinant of  the socio-emotional development of secondary school students in the Buea Municipality.

Research Objective

The research objective of this study will be divided into the general and specific research objectives.

General Research Objective

To find out how domestic violence act as a determinant of the socio-emotional development of students in secondary school in the Buea Municipality.

Specific Research Objectives

  1. To find out how emotional abuse will determine the socio-emotional development of a secondary school student.
  2. Also to know how psychological abuse can affect the socio-emotional development of a secondary school student.
  3. To what extend will physical abuse determine the socio-emotional development of a secondary school student.

Research Questions

General Research Question

How does domestic violence act as a determinant to the socio-emotional development of secondary school students in the Buea Municipality?

General  Research Questions

  1. How does emotional violence affect the socio emotional development of a secondary school student?
  2. To what extent does psychological abuse affect the socio emotional development of a secondary school student?
  3. Physical violence and its impact on the emotional development of a secondary school student?


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