Child protection refers to, EVERY step DELIBERATELY and CONSISTENTLY taken by the FAMILY, COMMUNITY, STATE and INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, BASED on KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, GOOD CONSCIENCE, PROMPTNESS, INNER STRENGTH and an UNALLOYED COMMITMENT to the PRESENT and the FUTURE of the CHILD to PROTECT through a FORTIFIED SYSTEM of PREVENTION and EARLY INTERVENTION aimed at PROTECTING the child from ALL FORMS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT, EXPLOITATION, VIOLENCE AND EVERYTHING THAT IS CONTRARY TO THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, WHETHER THEY APPEAR AS ABUSE OR NOT.
Please note that it is not protection if abuse is not prevented and early intervention is not guaranteed.
Children are born with rights. These rights are not conferred by human and his establised system and therefore they cannot pick and choose, which one to respect or not respect. To take the rights given to our children by the creator is amounts to robbery. Or is it not robbery to take away from someone something that we did not give them or over which we have no authority. Therefore it is a wrong use of language when we say, ‘give children their rights.’
We cannot give children their rights, we can only respect their rights. The rights are already given. Please note that respecting rights, already conferred by the creator is not a gift to the child. It is an act of obidience to their Creator. To disrepect their rights is to act against the order created by the creator. Our children are born as Rights Holders, they came to this world, holding the rights in their hands, therefore we must live up to the expectation of the creator and respect these rights.
There are two(2) categoties of caregivers in the life of the child, namely primary caregivers (parents and guardians) and secondary caregivers(every person, other than the biologocal parents or guardian of the child, charged with the responsibility of providing care for the child). These persons are duty bearers. They are duty bearers because they owe it to the child to protect him. Considering the fact that the primary caregivers (parents) invited the child to this world without his consent, they are duty bound to protect and care for the child.
The secondary custodians(nannies, teachers, etc) accept responsibility for the children, therefore they are duty bound to protect and care for the child. Above all, children cannot take care of themselves. It is therefore the responsibility of the FAMILY, COMMUNITY, STATE and INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY to protect and take care of the child. They form the four rings of protection, whose responsibility is to create protective enviroment, where the FAMILY IS STRENGHTENED, child protection is CODIFIED into CULTURE and NORMS, which enamate from the people and EFFECTIVE LEGAL FRAMEWORK.
Therefore, duty bearers do not respond to the child on the basis of his needs as if he is doing the child a favour. He responds to the child on the basis of his rights. Once it is the child’s rights and the primary and the secondary caregivers can afford it, having invited the child to this world and, it will be a duty and never a sacrifice. Once the secondary caregiver signs up to protect and take care of the child, it will never be a sacrifice.
In a nutshell, in dealing with the children, primary and secondary caregivers must employ and be grounded in the Rights-Based Approach as against the popular Needs-Based Approach. Failure to do so will amount to a breach of trust. Therefore when we fulfil our obligations to our children and they say, ‘thank you,’ our response must always be, ‘it is a duty.’
CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM
It is my firm belief that for child protection to be effective, it must move from being a concept or subject to become a culture.
Culture, here simply refers to values, which a people hold very dear. Culture is so powerful that it does not only develop a life of its own, it becomes the second nature of the people. Though, it derives its life from the people, the people also derive their lives, personal and communal meaning and peace from it when it comes of age.
Besides, Systems approach to Child Protection is the global thinking today when it comes to child protection. It is ensures that formidable structures are put in place to protection children. A Child Protection System has three (3) components: 1. Goals or Set of Goals; 3. Interdependence; 3. Balance.
Permit to declare that Child Protection Systems involves CAREFULLY Identifying or recognizing EVERY STAKEHOLDER, including THE CHILDREN, on child protection, ENLIGHTENING, EMPOWERING and ORGANIZING them towards CREATING AND STRENGTHENING PROTECTIVE ENVIRONMENT and PROVIDING SUITABLE and SUSTAINABLE SERVICES DELIVERY, (which emanates from rich and purposeful interaction with the stakeholders) towards CHILD PROTECTION and respect for the rights of children, as provided by LEGAL INSTRUMENTS, POLICIES, CUSTOMS and TRADITIONS, which set the formal and informal frameworks for the child protection, upholding THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD as the operating system.
It is important to note that Child Protection Systems work by a well-articulated Child Protection Policy, carefully designed according to the needs of the institution which seeks to use it to protect children.
THE LAW AND CHILD PROTECTION
I see the LAW is an INSTRUMENT of SOCIAL CHANGE and not necessarily an instrument of COHESION. For the LAW to make any sense in Child Protection it must seek to achieve a CULTURE of Child Protection, not mere ENFORCEMENT and this is done through ENLIGHTENMENT. Benjamin Disreali, said, ‘when men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.’
Existing Law on Child Protection
- Convention on the Rights of the Child(CRC), 1989
- 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1999
- Child’s Rights Act, 2003
- Child’s Rights Law of States
Provisions of the Foregoing Laws According to Four (4) Thematic Areas of Child’s Rights
Please note that I use the phrase, ‘Child’s Rights’ here carefully. I believe ‘Child’s Rights’ do not and cannot stand on its own. As far as I am concerned, the whole essence of ‘Child’s Rights’ is to achieve Child Protection. Permit me therefore to submit that while ‘Child’s Rights’ is the MEANS, Child Protection is the END. In the final analysis ‘Child’s Rights’ is useless and purposeless, if it cannot achieve Child Protection.
Below are the four (4) thematic areas recognized by law as it relates to Child’s Rights:
- Survival, which includes the rights of the child to life, good health, balance nutrition and related matters (see Sections 12 & 13).
- Development, which include the development of the child, spirit, soul and body (see Sections 15 & 29).
- Protection, which include parental care, protection of the child from child labour, child trafficking, ritual killing, sexual, physical, emotional abuses and neglect (see Sections 21-52).
- Participation, which include the right of the child to be involved in matters that concerns them (see Sections 3(1) (2), 6. 7, 8, 13, 19 & 20).
BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD
This is the Operating System of the law and Child Protection. According to the Common Law, the United Nations treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory to and the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 Part 1, Section 1), THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD (spirit, soul and body) must be the primary focus of every stakeholder in the life of the child, including the media. The foregoing assertion requires that every decision in respect of the child must pass through the acid test of ‘the best interest of the child.’
AFFECTED CHILDREN AND NOT VICTIMS: In the Child Protection circle today the word, ‘VICTIM’ has been replaced with the more child-friendly phrase, ‘AFFECTED PERSON/CHILD/CHILDREN.’ It is believed that the word, ‘VICTIM’ further stigmatises the already abused and traumatised child.
I beg to sign out here. By God’s grace, I will be back here tomorrow to continue this discussion. Do have an INSPIRED day. I charge you today to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…