The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Alert Families Foundation and Lagos State Child Protection Network are seeking stiffer measures to end violence against children, especially with the rising rate of abuse witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This declaration was made recently in Lagos at an event to herald the Alert campaign project for schoolchildren to curb and provide them with a safe place to express their feelings.
A representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Mr. Dennis Onoise, said, as an organisation, it condemns rape and other abuses directed at children, especially in schools, at home or places supposed to be the safest place for kids.
“Today, the problem of child abuse has continued to rise. Hundreds of children are being abused on a daily basis. Unfortunately, several cases of child sexual abuse have ended in prosecution.”
The Child Rights Act, which has been domesticated in a number of states, stipulates that, “No Nigerian child shall be subjected to physical, mental or emotional injury, abuse or neglect, maltreatment, torture, inhuman or degrading punishment, attacks on his or her reputation.
“There are many child abuses going on that we are not aware of, and the prevalence of abuse, especially sexual abuse, is massive.
The former coordinator of the Lagos State Child Protection Network, Mrs. Ngozi Okoro, urged pupils in primary and secondary schools to be vigilant and ensure they speak against any form of violent action against them. Okoro said there was the need to educate children on how they could speak out and break the silence when it comes to violence either physical or sexual violence.
“Parents need to encourage their kids to talk about what they see and hear at school, home and around them. You have to tune in to your child’s feelings and encourage them to discuss what they have seen and heard.
Okoro advised parents to befriend their kids in order to get information about them, noting, “if you don’t have dialogue and conversation with them, certain useful information would be withheld, especially activities that took place at school.”
The initiator of the Alert Families campaign, Ojo Rufus, gave an overview of how it intends to penetrate schools to prevent further spread of violence act against pupils.