Abuja - Six out of 10 Nigerian children experience some form of violence and a quarter of girls suffer sexual violence, according to a survey conducted by Nigeria's population commission.
The study titled Violence Against Children, carried out with support from UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is the first of its kind in Nigeria and west Africa.
It found that a parent or adult relative was the most common perpetrator of physical violence such as punching, kicking, intentional burning, choking or intention to drown.
Girls usually experienced their first form of sexual violence in their early teens, often with their first romantic partner. One in 10 boys also suffered sexual violence, mostly perpetrated by classmates or neighbours.
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Over 70 percent of sexual violence victims reported more than one incident.
The survey recommended that the government work to change perceptions about violence that is socially acceptable. For instance, about half the respondents believed that women should put up with violence to keep a family together.
It also recommended that children be encouraged to speak out and services enhanced to hold perpetrators accountable.
"I call on every ministry department and agency to work tirelessly to ensure that the priority actions for ending violence against children in Nigeria are implemented," civil service head Danladi Kifasi said at a conference addressing the survey on Tuesday.
Less than half of the respondents told someone about being physically abused, mostly because the victims did not think it was a problem. Less than five percent actually received help.
The rates of disclosure for sexual violence were even lower.
The various forms of violence resulted in increased incidents of mental distress, suicidal thoughts and sexually transmitted diseases.
The commission surveyed over 4,000 individuals between the ages of 13 to 24.