So You Want to Send Your Child to the Children Department of Your Place of Worship? Ask these Ten (10) Child Protection Focused Question: Question 2: Is the totality of what constitute an abuse to a child well understood? (2)

Dear duty bearers, thank you for joining me today. It gives me great pleasure to be back to this page today. Thank you so much for visiting. I do desire you to visit but I have a greater desire, which to make you a permanent resident of this page. I mean I invite you to follow us. All you need to do is to click the follow button just once. The moment, you do that you will receive an email, alerting you any time I post an article. I charge you to do this as you read this piece. Why do I charge you? It is for the best interest of our children. How? The battle for protection our children and their glorious destiny will not be won except through knowledge, wisdom, skills an attitude. The mission this blog is to empower you accordingly.

I continue with our topic, which I began since last week. I took an inevitable break on Friday to do a battle of conscience in respect of our children, who were kidnapped from their schools and are still being held fourteen days after. One side of the coin that is just occurring to me right now is what if the insurgents are busy brainwashing these young girls with a view to recruiting them for their unpopular cause? What if the children are already suffering from Stockholm syndrome? Too many questions, yet few or no answers. I charge you to please keep them in your prayers. In situations like this when all hopes seem lost; God is in the habit of showing up to make the difference.

Back to our discussion of the day, which is a continuation of the second question you must ask as you send your child to the children department of your religious place of worship, viz: is the totality of what constitute an abuse to a child well understood? I will like to say that the beginning of understanding is a clear-cut definition. I mean a definition, which agrees with universal principles of how God created this world to function. As a follow-up to our last discussion, permit me to define child abuse and child protection.

I will like to define abuse by its impact. I believe that abuse (physical, emotional, sexual and neglect) of any Abuse of any kind successfully at all times and every circumstance DEHUMANIZES the child. What does it mean to dehumanize? ‘Make Somebody Less Human: to make somebody less human by taking away his or her individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of his or her personality, or his or her compassion and sensitivity towards others.’ (Microsoft® Encarta® 2009)

Abuse is a distraction too hard for the fragile but promising mind of the child to handle. Abuse is a jealous occupier. He runs a fortified monopoly, which does not allow the child any breathing space. It arrives on its invitation with fear and intimidation. The trio creates a blockage, which does not only prevent the child from learning anything, but to also rob him of himself and his inherent dignity of human person. If there is any other feeling left in the child, when he is abused, it is the search for freedom. As, I always say, childhood is not synonymous with slavery. Abuse brings with it slavery mentality. Once the child feels enslaved, he has just one mission. It is the mission to escape the confines of the prison. It does not matter the name we call the institution, family, home, school, place of worship, once the freedom of the child is attacked, he sees the place as prison. Permit me to humbly submit therefore that the number one threat to the vision, mission and core value of a place of worship is exposure of children to any form of abuse.

There are mainly four types of abuse a child may be exposed to, namely physical, sexual, emotional and abuse by neglect.

For the place of worship to effectively play its role in the foregoing areas it must see itself as a major stakeholder in the life of the child, whose influence is permanent. The religious place of worship must understand that it stands in the position of secondary caregiver, which does not only give care to the child, but also strengthens the family (the primary caregiver).

Therefore the religious place of worship must understand that 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. The child’s needs are assumed because they are supposed to be known by anyone, who holds out himself/herself as a caregiver. The caregivers must respond to the child on the basis of his rights. Meeting the needs of the child is the end and recognising and respecting his rights is the means.

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.

The religious place of worship must understand that children are right holders. 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.

The purpose of this question is to test the understanding of a religious place of worship and their commitment to acting in accordance with their understanding, where it is in confirmity with universal principles or to gain the right understanding where it is not so, so that it may be said that the religious place of worship exists to promote the best interest of the child in child protection. What is this best interest of the child? 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.’

I feel at this point that I have done justice to this question. I will be here tomorrow again to continue earnestly along this line. If you have empowered today, I charge you, do not leave in a hurry; please drop a comment.

Thank you for visiting and as I sign out also today, I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE.

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