Recently a video of a 10 year old girl having sex went viral. The persons involved were later found to be pupils of Chrisland School in Lagos State, who were amongst the students of the same school that went on a visitation to Dubai last year. The video was released by happenstance; otherwise it would have been hidden forever. Naturally, everybody that watched the video was visibly angry. Some called for the arrest of the school proprietors and the parents of the children involved. The Lagos State government intervened timely and caused an investigation to be carried out.
Children all over the world are tender beings and are easily and innocently susceptible to things that they have not seen or experienced before. This is why parents, the tutors, community leaders and the society all have a role to play in nurturing the children to be better persons. The Bible says that train a child the way he should grow, and he will never depart from it. Conversely, when we all collectively fail to train or mentor our children we may unwittingly be nurturing a future society of criminals, prostitutes and depraved beings, who will end up being our leaders tomorrow; and therefore put all our lives at risk. It is no longer a secret that some parents encourage their children to be involved in fraud (yahoo and yahoo-plus) and even go to the extent of buying them tools to for the criminal trade. Unfortunately, some segment of the society adores them. Yahooism now seems to be the happening thing in town. Yesterday, a young lawyer working in my office told me that her father was duped of N1.6M when he received a call from someone purporting to be from his bank and gave him sensitive details of his bank account. Interestingly, armed robbers and kidnappers now parade themselves as yahoo boys because that is what society seems to adore.
Considering the importance of proper parenting and upbringing of our children, the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria signed into law on the 31st of July, 2003, the Child Rights’ Act, 2003, which some States in Nigeria have also domesticated. The Act states in Section 1 thereof that ‘In every action concerning a child , whether undertaken by an individual, public or private body, institutions or service, court of law, or administrative or legislative authority, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.” The Act provides for the rights of every child, which includes the rights contained in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution (Fundamental Rights). Section 19 of the Act spells out the responsibilities of both the child and the parents to each other and to the society. Particularly, section 20 provides that “Every parent, guardian, institution, person and authority responsible for the care, maintenance, upbringing, education, training, socialization, employment and rehabilitation of a child has a duty to provide necessary guidance, discipline, education and training for the child in his or its care such as will equip the child to secure his assimilation, appreciation and observance of the responsibilities set out in the Part of the Act.”
The Child Rights Act made provisions for acts or activities that are illegal and for which the offenders will be subjected to criminal prosecution, conviction and terms of imprisonment of up to life imprisonment. The Act expressly criminalizes child marriage or betrothal of any person under the age of 18 years; making tattoo or skin marks on a child, using children to traffic, sell or produce drugs or involving them in any criminal activity, child labour, using children for street begging or prostitution, having sexual intercourse with a child or subjecting him/her to any sexual abuse. Every parent has the responsibility of catering for his child up to the age of 18 years and even when he is still in the higher institution. The law places that duty on parents and guardian and a breach of the duty may compel the State government through the appropriate department to take steps to apply for the necessary protective orders from the Court to ensure that the child’s best interest is catered for.
However, it is a sad fact that many parents/guardians are abandoning their responsibilities to their children/wards for reasons which include poverty, too much attachment to work, deliberate recklessness (in a case where the parent also needs parenting) and sheer ignorance of parenting skills. The children of the present generation are more intelligent and tend to want to move faster. This may be as a result of availability of information technology and generational lifestyle changes. Many things that the older generation tends to adore are outdated to the new jet age. This is where every parent, guardian, adult and the society has to come in to properly guide the children towards adulthood.
The big question is, did the 10 year old girl in the X-rated video have the opportunity of proper parenting and mentorship from her home, church, school and neighborhood? Do we really want to produce children that will be problems to the society tomorrow and when they become useless to themselves, they would unleash their anger on the larger society by resorting to crimes? Each of us has to answer this question, because we all have a responsibility to every child. The Child Rights Act, 2003 is an injunction that we should all love our neighbors as ourselves, if we all want a safer and better society for our children and ourselves.
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