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Ending Child Abuse -By Kene Obiezu

If the fact that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is closing upon the 20 million mark is not alarming enough, then the fact that many states in Nigeria are yet to domesticated the groundbreaking Child Rights Act of 2003 close to  two decades since it was first passed must cause  alarm bells to chime.

It is no surprise that Nigeria is one of the most  difficult places to be a child on earth. In fact, according to the 2021 Global Childhood Index of Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization that has been committed to child welfare for years now, Nigeria ranks even lower than such veritable hellholes as Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan as a country where many  children are denied their childhood even before they are old enough to savour it.

In Nigeria, the self-styled ‘Giant of Africa’, the treatment of children has always been a cause for concern.

Threatened treasures

It may have  become cliched to say that children are the leaders of tomorrow, or that they are future. But it remains true.

Any society without children is a society in danger of losing itself because the place and importance of children to any society can never be underestimated.

Nature it is that ensures that many children outlive their parents thereby ensuring a natural order of succession that is harmonious.

Tales of woes

If the fact that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is closing upon the 20 million mark is not alarming enough, then the fact that many states in Nigeria are yet to domesticated the groundbreaking Child Rights Act of 2003 close to  two decades since it was first passed must cause  alarm bells to chime.

By their tender years, children are vulnerable to the many challenges that adults are more equipped to weather.

As instability  continues to convulse many communities in Nigeria at the behest of insecurity, children have emerged as some of the biggest victims.

Even food insecurity which is an offshoot of insecurity disproportionately affects children. This is even before consideration is given to the psychological toll t on them.

There is  also the case of direct abuse meted out on children by their parents and guardians.

Plateau State was recently in the news after the harrowing ordeal suffered by one Margaret Joshua from Kebbi State who was allegedly tortured to death by one NneamakaNwachukwu who she was living with.

After a whistleblower had raised the alarm about the horrific abuse suffered by Margaret, the child was taken to a  hospital where in spite of the valiant efforts of the doctors, she gave up the ghost.

That she may get justice even in death. It was not the first time that a child’s life would be ended at the hands of killers who pose as guardians. It keeps happening precisely because those who should act to check these things do very little while the perpetrators live to abuse other children.

Whether it is physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or psychological abuse, no child deserves to suffer same. Ever.

Nigeria must strengthen the laws that forbid the abuse of children and go a step further to ensure that all those who do are speedily brought to book.

Because they are usually at the cradle of life, children often form the foundations of whatever  a society hopes to be.

A society that looks away while its children suffer horrific abuse is a society preparing for a future of tumult and turmoil.

Kene Obiezu,

Twitter:@kenobiezu

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