Strengthening family ties to end child abuse
Driving advocacy with the aim to strengthen families is a factor, analysts has said will help end child abuse, exploitation and trafficking
Safeguarding the Nigerian child ensures their development and allows them fulfill their pvotential as well as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 4, 5, 16 and 16.2, which seeks to end all forms of torture against children by 2030.
Experts say, children can better achieve their full cognitive potential and be protected from harm when they have close family ties with their and are loved.
According to the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, child protection refers to preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children.
The UN body said, before the age of 18 years; approximately six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence. One in two children experience physical violence like punching (hitting with a stick), kicking, whipping, beating with an object, choking, smothering, trying to drown and burning intentionally.
They said, one in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence, one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence. The majority of children who experience physical, emotional and sexual violence in childhood do so in multiple occasions.
Disturbingly, UNICEF 2014, Violence Against Children Survey, VACS, revealed that, children are not speaking out, seeking or receiving services as less than half of all respondents who experienced physical violence tell someone. Sexual violence had even lower rates of disclosure - only 38 percent of girls and 27 percent of boys who are violated tell someone.
Little Sebioba Elizabeth, aged 13, who has been trained by the Alert Campaign Families said, "the campaign program has enlightened me about child abuse and I have been able to get some of my peers to open up to me about their feelings. When they do, I do take them to the school counselor.
The Senior Secondary One student of Baptist Girls Academy Obanikoro, Lagos highlighted some important private body parts children should know of that can not be touched by anybody, which are: the lips, breast, buttocks and vagina, stressing that, when it is touched, children should scream for help, run away and speak up.
Elizabeth promised to get some of her friends integrated into the Alert Campaign program to get them more enlightened.
Also speaking, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Denise Onoise, said children generally face challenges especially when the mother and father work, while in some cases, this is even worse for the children.
Onoise said, "some children are catered for by a nanny, where the parents are not around. Again, it is not all just having a nanny, we need to understand that even when we are with our children 24 hours, they still run the risk of still being abused. The issue is how you as the parents take care of the children."
He said, UNICEF carried out a survey in 2014 in the 36 States plus FCT, it was discovered that, for every 10 children, six have been abused between the age of 10 to 14 and some of these children have their mothers with them, "but in some cases, I understand that, when the mother is not around, it could be worst."
The Child Protection Specialist said, the whole survey points out that, those who abuse children are not necessarily strangers, adding that, they are most times people who are known to children like; teachers, parents.
He said, it was worst during COVID-19 lockdown when parents were at home asNigeria recorded more cases of child abuse, stressing that, these abusers were neighbors, cousins, nephew, which the Alert Campaign is taken seriously in ensuring that child abuse is put to an end.
He said, all stakeholders must reach out to many more people, the law enforcement agencies and police, "because if people are aware that such perpetrators can suffer some form of punishment, it would serve as a deterrent to others."
He charged the media to raise more awareness on sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse as everyone has the right to protect the Nigerian child from any form of violence, urging them to continue to put child abuse stories in the front burner with the aim to ending it.
In her view, Aderonke Oroyakin, a representative from Child Protection Network, Lagos said, the increase of reported cases of child abuse is still on the high side and it shows that more work still needs to be done.
She however urged all stakeholders to put in efforts in reporting and persecuting cases of child abuse, stressing that, "if you see something, please say something about it because child protection is collective responsibility."
Oroyakin revealed that, Lagos Child Protection Network has presence in all the local government of the state, urging all to reach out to the office on any child abuse case.
Chairman of the event, Victor Ekpeh highlighted important issues in a family setting that should be considered when choosing a spouse which include: culture, tradition and choice.
He pointed that economic issues is a big threat to the family as both parent are engaged with one activity or the other to meet with the financial demand of the home, thereby having little or no time to see to the emotional and psychological needs of their children.