The Inevitable Roles of the Family in Child Protection

Hello stakeholders, I think I was here 2 days ago to share with you my thoughts on the Yobe killing of our children. I still urge you to read that piece and take action. I have suspended my piece on Commandments of Rights-Based Communication till next week. I have not found peace and space to continue. Today, permit me to share with you this piece:The Inevitable Roles of the Family in Child Protection…Please enjoy and act.

A recent United Nation’s Survey reveals that never in the history of our world has the children of the world been exposed to the kind of abuse they are exposed to today. ‘A shocking picture of physical abuse and mistreatment of children in countries in every corner of the world, ranging from corporal punishment in schools to forced prostitution, rape and mutilation, was revealed in a survey by the United Nations’ reported the UK-based The Independent.

The publication also revealed that the UN Survey ‘says international conventions on human rights for children have flatly failed to guarantee protections for the most vulnerable members of society. While abuse may be at its worst in the developing world, no country is guiltless.’
I make two strong deductions from the foregoing. The first is that child abuse is in the increase the world over. The second is that the legal framework hitherto celebrated by the United Nations as the cure-all potion for the prevention and early intention to child abuse has failed woefully.
The question we must be interested in asking and answering is why the legal framework has failed woefully. I think I have an idea. In the last 16 years I have been in the forefront of Child Protection through the instrumentality of the law. I have in the process of my work found that the law on its own in as powerless as a paper tiger as an independent element in protecting our children from abuse. For the law to make sense, it must be mixed with enlightenment.

I have propounded and stood by my philosophy of child protection times without number at local and international fora that Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement™ of the laws relating to children and their rights. My simple logic is that enlightenment focuses on prevention while enforcement focuses on intervention or at most early intervention in cases of child abuse. Since prevention has been proven to be better and less expensive than cure, I have consistently advocated for what I call Social Policing™, which is aimed at preventing child abuses. The case for the superiority of enlightenment to prevention originally was informed by the thinking that the impact of child abuse is eternal, except there is divine intervention. Besides, the UN recently revealed that responding to child abuse cases is four times expensive as child protection and protecting children against violence and abuse aims at saving cost of families, communities and ultimately the state.

I must hasten to add here that the Social Policing™ phenomenon can only become a reality through enlightenment and Social Empowerment Advocacy™. Now, when I advocate Social Empowerment Advocacy™, where should we primarily pitch out tents? I think the primary place to pitch our tents is the family institution. The tragedy is that this is an institution that has been neglected for so long for less effective institutions like community and states. Please note that by family here I refer primarily to the nuclear family, which is made of a man and woman and children. Gary Chapman in his book, The Four Seasons of Marriage that, ‘I explored ethnographies compiled by various anthropologists. One conclusive finding of these studies was that marriage between a man and a woman is the central, social building block in every human society, without exception. It is also true that monogamous, lifelong marriage is the universal cultural norm.’

A Ghanaian proverbs says, ‘the ruin of a people begins in the homes of it’s people.’ It goes without saying that the opposite is also an absolute truth and I render it thus: ‘the prosperity of a nation begins in the homes of it’s people.’ The role of family cannot be overemphasised in matters of child protection. The truth of the matter is that children are not vulnerable until the family becomes vulnerable. I believe this is why in child protection matters, parents are referred to as primary care giver.

There are four rings of protection recognised by the UN. They arranged in the following order of importance. The first is family. The second is community. The third is the state and the fourth is the international community. The truth of the matter is that the family is the foundational and cardinal ring, upon which all the other rings rest. It therefore means that the other rings exist to provide needed support for the family to be able to play the roles of child protection and not to replace it. The unfortunate situation today is that many experts, who claim to be interested in child protection, have not only assigned the roles of the family to the other rings, but has watered down the family as just one of the rings. The implication of the foregoing is that the family is not supplied with the necessary support to play the roles, which are cardinal to child protection. Instead the rest of the rings empower themselves to replace the family. Sadly, we forget that there are three pillars of protective environment for children and the number one pillar is the family, followed by customs and norms and legislation. This again reiterates the fact that family as the first pillar is supposed to erect the rest of the pillars.

The family is to erect the pillar of customs and norms and the pillar of the law. The failure of our society in misplacing our priority in the delicate responsibility of child protection is the reason, why the UN in the survey I shared has come to discover that law is not enough. But whether this discovery will lead every stakeholder to go back to the basics, by enthroning and empowering the family institution to protection the child is a symposium discussion for another day. But the much I can conclude now is that if we do not focus on the family institution and if the institution does not arise and take its inevitable place in the protection of our children, worse days are ahead for our children. God help us.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE. Have an INSPIRED day.

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