Children in Prisons: Suffering for the ‘sin’ of their Parents? (1)

It seems to be a global phenomenon for children to live in the prisons with their inmate parents.  According to Prison Fellowship International¸ ‘some children live in prison because that is where their mother, or occasionally their father, lives…Countries have legislation or guidelines that provide for this, and those usually indicate a maximum age for the child. This can range from a few months to a number of years.’ What is not global however is the condition and standards of prisons. It is common knowledge that prisons systems in the developing world have only been able to achieve the mantra of reformation of inmates as a policy. In most cases the condition and environment of prison simply dehumanizes the inmates.

In Nigeria, the state of our prisons is no more news. Most of our prisons were built many decades ago. Therefore they do not conform to the 21st century specifications of prisons. My concern here is the fact that children live with their parents in most of our prisons in Nigeria. You may be interested in asking, what makes it an issue? Well, I think the first thing that makes it an issue for me is the state of our prisons in Nigeria. It is a known fact that adults, whose immune system are fully developed are barely surviving in the prisons, not to talk of children. I also think it is the failure of our state to have children in prison with their parents as it is today. Please permit me to shed light on my assertion in the lines ahead.

How do children get to live with their parents in prison in Nigeria? I think there are two ways it happens. The first is that many of them are born in prison and the second is that some of them are taking to prison by their nursing parents, particularly mothers. A report, titled, ‘How children born in Kirikiri prisons live,’ published in The Punch of August 24, 2013, reveals, ‘one of the nursing mothers did not give birth in the prison. She said her baby was five months old when she got to the prison and had to take her along because the child was too young and nobody could take care of her. “My husband did not say ‘no’ when I told him I had to take my baby with me to the prison,” she said.’

There is a huge controversy as to how many children who are living with their parents in prisons in Nigeria. In April, 2013, many Nigerian newspapers graced their front pages with a report of the United States’ Department on Human Rights Practices for 2012 that not less than 6,000 children are in prisons across the country. In a swift attempt to debunk the report, The Controller General of Prisons, Mr. Zakari Ibrahim stated ‘ that about 69 babies are currently locked up with their mothers in the 234 prisons across the country, while 847 juvenile inmates were also said to be enclosed in the three Borstal Training Institutions located in Kaduna, Abeokuta and Ilorin.’

While it is not my business here to join forces with either of the party, it is curious that when one visits the ‘STATISTICAL INFORMATION AS AT 30TH JUNE, 2013’ page on the website of the Nigerian Prison Services (www.prisons.gov.ng) , it is completely silent on the number of children in prison, either with their parents or Borstal Training Institutions in Nigeria. If one of the purposes of statistics is for effective planning, then could we say, there is there is no adequate plan to take care of children in prisons either with their parents or Borstal Training Institutions in Nigeria? Besides, could one be tempted to think that the submission of the honourable Controller General of Prisons was an after-thought and a perfunctory official response to what the Nigerian government considers a damaging and indicting report by the United States’ Department?

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.

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I’AM

I’m initiated, His BLOOD flows in my veins…
I’m blessed, I’m no longer my own, I’ve been bought and fully paid for…
I’m righteous, I’m the redeemed of the LORD…
I’m defined, I’m made according to specification to fulfill a DIVINE assignment…
I’m recruited, I’m in His Army…
I’m assigned, I’m His Ambassador here…
I’m instructed, I’m THE LIGHT of the world…
I’m named, I’m THE SALT of the earth…
I’m positioned, I’m a CITY on high, I cannot be hidden…
I’m empowered, I’m the abode of HIS HOLY SPIRIT…
I’m armed, I’m born of the SWORD of the SPIRIT, His WORD…
I’m Fortified, I’m a bearer of His LOVE…
I’m packaged, I’m a bundle of gifts, joy of many generations…
Praise Ye the LORD…
Have an INSPIRED week.
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s day(www.taiwoakinlami.com)

Child’s Rights Education: The Foundation of Child Protection(1)

‘One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.’ Malala Yousafzai

Article 29 Convention of the Rights of the Child provides:  States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:  (a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;   (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;  (c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own; (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; (e) The development of respect for the natural environment. 

I believe that the foregoing provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) focuses on teaching children their rights, responsibilities and the universal principles and values upon which both are built.

It is interesting that articles 29 of the Convention finds ample similarities in Section 20 of the Child’s Rights Act, earlier referred to in the previous chapter. Section 20 provides:  ‘Every parent, guardian, institution, person and authority responsible for the care, maintenance, upbringing, education, training, socialization, employment and rehabilitation of a child has the duty to provide the necessary guidance, discipline, education and training for he 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 this Part of the Act.’

I believe that apart from the fact that the foregoing provisions instruct primary and secondary custodians to  agree to teach children their responsibilities under that the law, I think the provisions agrees with my submission under the CREED that children must be empowered to be active participants in their protection.  

I think one way to describe enlightening children to be alive to their responsibilities and be a major stakeholder in their own protection is child participation. 

What is child participation? According to a recent report by UNICEF, “Child participation involves encouraging and enabling children to make their views known on the issues that affect them. Put into practice, participation is adults listening to children — to their entire multiple and varied ways of communicating. It ensures their freedom to express themselves and takes their views into account when coming to decisions that affect them. Engaging children in dialogue and exchange allows them to learn constructive ways of influencing the world around them. (See www. Unicef.org)

Child Participation, which formed the theme of ‘THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2003’ report of the UNICEF, was the resolution of the United Nations’ General Assembly Special Session on Children, held in May 2002, where for the first time, the General Assembly met to discuss exclusively Children’s issues. One significant feature of that Session was that for the first time ever, “Children were present as members of 142 national delegations and 106 non-governmental delegations.  More than 400 children, aged 8 to 18, also met in a three-day Children’s Forum prior to the Special Session and produced their own declaration…” (See www. unicef.org)

Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations (as he then was) commented on the General Assembly Special Session as follows: “The children’s presence transformed the atmosphere of the United Nations. Into our usually measured and diplomatic discussions, they introduced their passions, questions, fears, challenges, enthusiasm and optimism. They brought us their ideas, hopes and dreams. They gave life to the values of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And they contributed something only they could know: the experience of being young in the 21st century – in a time when HIV/AIDS continues to grow at a devastating rate; in a time when unprecedented wealth coexists with extreme poverty; in a time when the rights of children, while almost universally recognized, are abused systematically and daily throughout the world.” (Forward to ‘THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2003’ of UNICEF)

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.

NOTICE:
Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 10 Audio CDs and 4 Handbooks are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

7 fundamental reasons, why I believe cases of child sexual abuse are swept under the carpet

I was part of a research team, who surveyed available social services for child protection in Lagos State, where I reside recently. One fear, which I had before, which was again confirmed was that cases of sexual abuse against the child is swept under the carpet more than any form of abuse. Today, I will be sharing with you the 7 fundamental reasons, why I believe cases of child sexual abuse are swept under the carpet.

Tomorrow, by the grace of God, I will share with you the steps, I believe can be taken to deal with the identified reasons.

  1. The Culture of stigma: Parents and other custodians fear the stigma that the society attaches to the victim of child sexual abuse.
  2. Poverty: many custodians do not have the resources to purse justice for their sexually abused children. In many other cases, the offender capitalizes on the poverty of the parents to offer them money. I have found that in most cases, the parents collect the money and frustrate the process of bringing the offender to book. We recently had a matter where a child was sexually molested by a teacher in a public school in Lagos. The teacher was arrested. Later we had information that the teacher gave the parents the sum of N30, 000 and that was the end of pursuit of justice for the parents.
  3. Ignorance: many parents are ignorant of what to do or who to call in cases of child sexual abuse.
  4.  Fear: the perpetrator of child sexual abuse and the community may threaten the parents in some cases. At this point the parents keep their mouth shut for their personal safety and the safety of their children.
  5.  Lack of support and encouragement: when parents decide to pursue the case of child sexual abuse, they are swimming against the tide. In most cases the matter cannot be resolved over night. It is always a long-drawn battle, particularly because of the snail pace at which our justice system dispenses justice. For this kind of long-drawn battle, the parents or custodians need all the support from members of society like Non-governmental organizations, faith-based organization. It will not be a bad idea for Non-governmental organizations to facilitate support groups for parents of victim of child sexual abuse. Such critical support does not exist in our clime.
  6. Closeness to the perpetrator: most cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by those who are close to the family. It therefore becomes difficult for the parents to seek justice against an offender.
  7. Shortsightedness: many parents are not aware of the future impact of an unaddressed case of sexual abuse on the child. Once a child is sexually abused, she needs medical and emotional healing. In most cases the child is not exposed to medical treatment not to talk of emotional treatment. Later in this program you will learn more about the impact of child sexual abuse on a child.

I beg to sign out here. I urge you today to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…

THIS PATH, I CHOOSE

Vanity, pettiness, emptiness and the likes thrive on deafening noise…
Designed to hide his non-existent state…
Most times to scare the uninitiated and deceive the unwary…
Substance, worth, weight, show up unassuming, yet exuding tested confidence and fortified security…
Though he’s often underrated…
In quietness and confidence is his strength and abode…
Think about the effervescence of a gas-filled drink or vapour on a mirror, you have seen vanity and pettiness at his best…
It is called disguised efforts(imele) without worth or better put, lasting worth…
Think about the strategic, silent and seeming slow move of a lion at the most critical times, though, he’s the ordained king of the jungle, you have seen substance and worth at his best…
He combines the wisdom of a serpent with the gentleness of a dove to consistently enforce divinely ordained Dominion…
This week I I count on His mercy and grace to choose the less-traveled path…
I choose the path of the Eagle…
For we are birds of same feather…
I choose the path of substance…
I choose the path of rest…
I choose the chosen path…
He says to me, His BELOVED: ‘In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’
I BELIEVE…He’s Not a MAN!
Have an INSPIRED week.
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on His Knees on the LORD’s day(www.taiwoakinlami.com)

The 16th Commandment of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Embrace Longsuffering:

When I began this series few weeks back, I knew it will take only the patient will get to the end with me. Today I am ending the series with the operating system of the communication commandment with children.

The bitter but unquestionable truth is that without patience or call it, longsuffering it is impossible to have any meaningful and effective communication with children.

Please note that I write from the rights angle. When I use the words, ‘meaningful’ and ‘effective,’ I am conscious of the fact that communication is not meaningful and effective until the rights of the child are protected in the process. If we believe that communication has taken place when the rights of the child are being trampled upon, then it is false hope or should I call it Pyrrhic victory.

It is impossible to respect the rights of the child in the process of communication with children without longsuffering. Longsuffering is impossible without love for the children under our care. The Holy Writ says, ‘love suffers long.’ Love to children, I must say again, most importantly means attention and appreciation.

How does longsuffering work in our communication with children? I think it works two ways. The first is to be patient enough to communication with them in a way, which will ensure that they get the message. This requires adding skills to our patience. Lack of skill a lot of times lead to anxiety. Why? We are simply not sure of the impact of our communication since it is by default. Confidence comes from assurance that the methods we have employed to speak with children are effective. Such assurance comes from certainty of the skilful engagement with children.

The second way patience works is that we are not in a hurry to get result. We are ready to give the children room to assimilate what we have communicated. One of the major purposes of communicating with children is to empower them with options. For us to know whether they are learning or not patience must be employed.

Patience counters frustration and anger and empowers custodians to make indelible and positive impact in the life of the child. Children may forget many things, but they will never forget your patience borne of our love for them and sealed with skilful engagement. I urge you today to embrace patience in communication with children. If your gaol is succeed with them in communication and in other areas, patience is an INEVITABLE tool…Embrace it patiently.

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.

NOTICE:
Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 5 Audio CDs and 4 Handbooks are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

Commandment 15 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Do not pay attention to everything you hear your child do or say

Life itself operates by the principle of win-some and lose-some. An attempt to win all at all times or to have one’s way at all times will lead to highhandedness and being unnecessarily overbearing. When a person becomes highhanded, he represses others and repels them, therefore he cannot inspire them. When a person becomes overbearing, he chokes people and waters down to a point of no value his impact.

As custodians, we cannot afford to be highhanded, neither can we be overbearing. We must give our children breathing space. If we correct them on something today, we should give them room and time to imbibe the lessons and practice the principles before we pounce on them again. When we become overbearing, either as a primary or secondary caregivers, we make life unbearable for our children. They feel they are under siege and slavery and they seek nothing but the day of emancipation.

Many year ago, I read the following in the Holy Writ and it has been very fresh and instructive since then:  ‘Do not pay attention to every word people say,   or you may hear your servant cursing you; for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.’ This is very a humbling truth. Here, I understand that to pay attention to everything our servant say is to commission a search party for what is not missing. And if we see what is not missing, we will find what we did not bargain for. The truth is, we also are not perfect. Why then do we seek perfection from our servants?

In our communication with children, we should pay attention to important issues and ignore unimportant issues. We should learn to wait if the issue is important but it is not urgent. If it appears urgent but not important we should ignore such.

It is our duty to teach our children life skills and principles and admonish them, but when our admonition is too frequent and does not overlook anything, it becomes a burden to our children. I think when it comes to communication with our children, particularly when it comes to correcting them, we should tread carefully and let our feet be rarely found in the domain of correction and chastisement.

I am able to relate to this because of my own childhood experiences. My parents new overlooked any matter. Every matter must be discussed and I must have an answer for every situation and every question. One of the commonest prayers I prayed as a child was for my parents to forget my wrongs. I learnt all kinds of superstitious ways from fellow children on how to get my parents to forget my wrongs. I would remove a strand of hair from my eyebrow and put it on my forehead. I would cross my fingers. Fellow children told me these things worked. Sometimes, they appeared to work, maybe because as troubled children, we had so much faith in them. In most cases, they seemed not to work or even aggravate the situation, but that did not stop us from such senseless practices. We must by reason of survival resort to something since our parents we committed to remembering, discussing and punishing all our wrongs.

The issue again was that our teachers in school were also like that. Therefore it was a case of siege on all sides. This kind of siege has terrible impact on the mind of the child. It introduces fear and paranoia. The child becomes psychologically pressured and has no room be give expression to childhood traits, which are critical to his well-being and development as a person. He does not only begin to lie, he begins to perfect how to lie. He finds not rest in his mind, in his homes and in his school. This is very sad. He thinks all day and all night about his wrongs and the constant bashing of his custodians. He loses himself and his mind. He simply becomes a troubled child, who has learnt to reach into his small mind to fashion his own defence mechanism to the whiles of overbearing adults.

I see many adults today, who cannot have meaningful discussions. They are always on their toes. Once anyone says anything that is not pleasant or they perceive not to be pleasant, they do not seek to understand the person, the next thing they want to do is to defend themselves immediately. This happens between them and their spouses, between them and their colleagues and even between then and their own children. When I see people behave this way, I am interested in their background.

I am able to relate with this because that was the kind of adult I became. I have learnt from childhood to defend myself always and I have erected a defence mechanism in my mind. Thus anytime anything was being said that I perceived not to be in my favour, the mechanism rises inside of me, defies every of my reasoning faculty and blindly goes into the murky fray of self defence. It has taken the grace of God to help me today. The truth is that in this matter, like many other matters of my childhood abuse, I am not where I used to be but I am not where I believe God wants me to be yet. Therefore, I just keep praising Him for what He has done and keep working with Him for total restoration, which has become a lifetime affair. But do you know the most painful truth; I could have been spared of this deficiency if my parents and teachers were not overbearing. They painted mistakes as irredeemable errors worthy of nothing but international and unforgivable embarrassment. Please note that I use the word, ‘deficiency’ carefully because a man or woman, who cannot listen to other because what they are saying appear unpleasant to him/her will not learn from his/her mistakes and therefore will not move to maturity in life and will also be more pain than good to his/her relationships. Those in relationships with such people are in what is called, ‘high maintenance relationships’ in which only few stay on.

I charge custodians today to take it easy with children and give them breathing space. Give them the room to develop their own perspective. Do not spoon feed them. Show them options and allow them make their choices. Watch them make their own mistakes as they learn to make their own choices. Please note that we can only guide children, we cannot teleguide. To guide them is to show them options and to teleguide them is to steal their thinking faculty and turn them into robots, who only respond to our promptings and lead another life when they are outside the coverage of our influence.

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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 10 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.