Child Protection: A PHILOSOPHER or AN ADVOCATE: Where I STAND…Rich FOOD for Your THOUGHT

Mor Dioum, Director of The Victoria Climbe Foundation, United Kingdom is a Legal Practitioner and Child Protection Specialist, who was a co-facilitator at the 2014 Association of International School Educators of Nigeria, which theme was Child Protection: Securing Our Children in a Changing World, held on Thursday 20th March, 2014 in Lagos, Nigeria. As I stepped down from the podium after my presentation, he held my hands and whispered to me, ‘I like your approach to Child Protection; it is highly philosophical.’

His comment struck a profound chord in me as it is a testimony to what I believe I have done in the last eight years of my seventeen years sojourn as a Child’s Rights/Child Protection Expert. I have through the help of God brought philosophy to child protection and make it an empowerment agenda. Meaningful change in any area of our lives as individuals and institutions only happens when our thinking is positively altered.

Every issue our society faces today has its human angle and the human angle, though often neglected is the most critical in finding lasting solutions. I have dedicated myself to proclaiming the sides of the human angle, we hardly look at and which has hitherto hindered our progress in the social intervention efforts toward protecting our dear children. It is my goal to help my audience to understand and decode for their personal victories, the human angle of Child Protection. I think this approach leaves me as thinker.

Please note that it takes human beings to operate rules. Before now, our society has cared too much about rules and regulations that we have paid little or no attention to the minds, which runs the rules and make them work for the good of humanity. Benjamin Disreali points out to use the helplessness of rules and regulation, when it is pitched in the agenda of social and personal change as an independent variable thus, ‘when men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.’

The truth is that those who abuse children most times are people, who suffered abuses themselves and therefore have no better experience in dealing with the issue. Until they find help, which is able to trace their problem beyond their psychology to their socialisation, they will continue to produce after their kind. It is my well-considered opinion that our psychology is always of product of our socialization. We are not self-made. We are made of influences. We are made in God’s image, yet altered by the imperfection of men, beginning from our primary and secondary caregivers.

The talk to me about my psychology without a brilliant and informed attempt to address my sociology makes me to perceive you as someone who does not care, though you may care. Unfortunately, the human mind is trained to accept help only from those who it believes really care. Please note that actions or omissions, which result from my psychology, may not be fully excused solely on the basis of the fact that it is a product of my socialisation, but it will do me and the society a whole lot of good to factor this in, in trying to find solution to my imbalances.

If persons and society are able to do address the socialization behind our psychology, they will achieve two significant results: first, their approach to solving personal and societal problems, which occur as a result of social imbalances of persons, will change from condemnation or being judgmental to seeking to understand persons’ socialization before they address their psychology. When we do this, we will learn to love and love will lead us to solutions, which help to tum people around. Whichever name we call those who perpetrate anti-social behaviours today does not change them. They have a problem, created by their socialization. Therefore, they share equal status of being victims like the people affected by their anti-social behaviours. The second result of looking beyond psychology into socialisation is that it helps to nip in the bud the socialisation, which creates the psychology, which manifest in anti-social behaviour, which take away the peace, tranquillity and harmony of our society.

What about the law? Hmmm…Well, permit me to submit as a trained lawyer that what applies to rules and regulations apply to law. The law is good but it must ride on the wing of enlightenment and social reorientation for it to make any sense in any human society. That is why I keep saying that enlightenment is superior to enforcement. Legions of law would not stop people from doing what the right thinking about the reason for the law would help them do. The right thinking, I refer to here begins with personal change. Take it from me today, I agree with English historian and author, Henry Thomas Buckle that ‘society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it.’

In view of the foregoing, my approach to child rights/child protection is more of being a thinker and philosopher than being a crusader and advocate. Advocacy without genuine personal philosophy does not do the world any good. My fine-tuned mandate is ‘to bring to the front burner of the conscience and consciousness of individuals, private and public institutions in Africa, the PROTECTION, RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of the child for due respect IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, using as instrumentalities of effectiveness, the provisions of the law, social intervention solutions and social empowerment advocacy.’ This mandate is two-fold: first, to educate the child’s primary and secondary caregivers about their sociology and how such understanding help them to see the urgent need to respect the rights child and teach him/her responsibilities. Second, to reach out to those, who have experienced one form of childhood abuse or the other that there is hope for healing, provided they are willing to take full responsibility for their turnaround.

Why did I share this with you this morning instead of continuing with my series? Well, this popped in my mind this morning and I seriously feel I should share it with you, my dear friends. I charge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE.

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Child Protection and Preparation for Marriage: Fundamental Issues to Consider: WHO ARE WE?

Welcome to this page today. Sure we were able to spend quality and meaningful time with our children yesterday. I know as primary and secondary caregivers, we very well know that genuine relationship with our children demands time. I pray the God will continue to guide us as we journey on in giving our children a future and a hope through proper training, which begins with example.

Permit to spend a little time here today discussing the fundamental issues, I believe couples, who prepare for marriage should consider as it relates to child protection.

I think the first thing I will like to share with couple is what it means to protect children. Children are protected when they are raised by sound, conscious and informed primary and secondary caregivers. The child is a tripartite being, spirit, soul (mind, will and emotion) and body. Our child protection plan is far from being complete until it has holistic enough to ensure the protection of children spirit, soul and body.

I think the first question couples who are about to marry and are committed to bringing up protected children must ask and answer is WHO ARE WE? I am a strong and unrepentant protagonist of the truism that for child protection to be effective, it must become a culture of the primary and secondary caregivers. What is culture? Culture simply refers to dominant value system of persons, families, private and public institutions and nations. Whether we accept it or not and whether we know it or not, humans and the institutions they create and function in are creatures of values.

Kindly note that I will use the word, ‘culture’ and ‘values’ interchangeably as we hold this important discussion.

Therefore, permit me to submit that people do not get married, values do. Also, people do not raise children, values do. The foundation of child protection is therefore laid with the values of the man and woman, who are coming together as husband and wife.

Our dominant values will never be far away from our childhood experiences, the interpretation of same as we assume the age of accountability and how much of our experiences we have taken deliberate, purposeful and consistent efforts to seek reorientation from.

Please note that except the man and woman, who seek to be joined together in marriage are compatible in values, they cannot have a settled and united home and until a home is settled and united, it cannot receive a child and bring him/her up properly. The child’s interpretation of an unsettled and divided home is simple: broken home.

Therefore marrying parties in considering compatibility of values must revisit their personal history from childhood, the families in which they were raised, knowing that each party is as good as his/her childhood. If your childhood was pleasant, you must deliberately affirm the positive dividends. If your childhood was unpleasant, you must understand that it has negative and seemingly incurable impact and it does not repair itself. One must employ knowledge, skill and attitude to deal with an unpleasant past. To do otherwise is to delude one self. It is like being aware that what was planted for you was cocoyam and you seriously believe that you will reap cassava.

Therefore in answering the who-are-we question, patience plays a major role. Sincerity and skill play another major role. Patience will help parties to take a critical look at their past from childhood and do proper analysis and establish in clear terms the impact of their upbringing on them today. They must consider positive and negative impact. Positive impacts are to be affirmed while negative impacts are to be dealt with properly. Parties may require the helps of experts to be able to deal with issues of their childhood. They must never shy away from it.

Please note that parties are not doing this exercise with the conclusion that they want to take inventory of the past and fix it so that they can end up together. Not at all, parties must the clear understanding that they are doing the exercise with the open mind that they will like to end up together but even if their findings show that they cannot end up together, it still be considered a successful exercise, embarked upon in the best interest of themselves and posterity.

Why is compatibility of values critical to marriage and child protection? I submit most profoundly that value is critical to marriage and child protection because we raise children according to our kind (values). About-to-wed couple, take it or leave it, each of you will raise children according to his/her values. Where your values are compatible and positive, the child hears only one voice and his/her spirit, soul and body are being fixed in one positive direction. Where values are not compatible, the child hears double or multiple voices and he/she becomes confused from childhood.

A confused child is robbed of his/her dignity of human person; he/she deals with serious esteemed issues; he/she is prepared for a life of abuse and misery. Another issue that if you are not compatible about the values of child protection, it means both of the parties will not jointly protect the child. For example, a person, who experienced childhood abuse, has the very high tendency to abuse his/her own children, if he or she does not seek help in the direction of healing. The principle is very clear, ‘hurting people do hurt others.’

A child will also need someone to believe, marrying couples must deliberately present themselves as that ‘someone.’ Please note that the word, ‘someone’ here refers to one voice and one value. Oneness is inevitable in raising protected children. The couple must become one for the success of their marriage and for the awesome and highly-rewarding responsibility of raising their children properly.

Are you ‘someone’ that the child can believe for his/her peaceful existence and protection? I charge you never to proceed to marriage until you answer this critical question. The peace of our posterity is worth all the caution, except marrying parties have settled it that they do not intend to have and raise children.

Permit me to sign out at this point. It has been a long talk. By the grace of God, I look forward to resuming this talk tomorrow. Hope you found it enlightening today. I invite you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

Children’s Day: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate: Are We Missing The Point?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 is Children’s Day in Nigeria. Though Children’s Day is marked on different days of the year in different countries of the world, the day holds same purpose for children all over the world.

United Nations, on its website submits, ‘by Resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.’

The foregoing declaration reveals the purpose for which Children’s Day was proclaimed. It is not designed to be a day of purposeless jamboree, which it has become over the years. We missed the point of the significance of the Children’s Day many years ago. I think many of our State Governments, who have announced that the day will not be marked, may be genuine in their concern, but they missed the point. I also believe that they have been misled as to equate the day with mere carnival as we have known it to be over the years. What they have actually stopped is the carnival, which in the first instance in my sincere opinion constituted a huge nuisance to the ideals of the Children’s Day. With or without the Chibok kidnap, we should have done away with such carnivals, which do not in any way hold any meaningful promises for the present and the future of the Nigerian child.

I believe that the Chibok kidnapping and the present state of the Nigerian child should have generated a serious debate today, with a view to finding a credible national way forward. Yes, we should have said no, to meaningless jamborees, which should not have been in the first instance, but we should have said a loud yes to a robust national debate, which promotes nothing but the best interest of the child. If we have done that, we would have been acting in accordance to the purpose for which the United Nations declared Children’s Day.

Permit me to opine most unequivocally that this blanked cancellation or declaration of low-key marking without a replacement does not bring the issues to the fore. It obscures them. I think it is an innocent but yet devastating attempt to deny the existence of the issues.

I keep using the word, ‘issues.’ Yes, it is deliberate. My assignment here today is to bring the issues to the fore. What are these issues? Well, having dedicated the last 17 years of my adult life to the cause of protecting the Nigerian child through a commitment to bring matters of his rights and responsibilities to the front burner of the conscience and consciousness of individual, private and public institutions, with many scars and victories, I think I have an idea of the issues. I therefore charge you to give a few minutes of your cherished time to hear me out.

Globally today, our children are troubled on all sides. From abuse in the hands of primary and secondary caregivers, civil wars, terrorist attacks, child trafficking, sex slavery, denied access to education, health care services, nutrition, poverty, just to mention a few, our children are under serious pressure and have not only been denied of their childhood but also the joy of same.

The recent UN Report on Violence against Children reveals, ‘while abuse may be at its worst in the developing world, no country is guiltless.’ The report paints the gory picture of the world children under an unprecedented siege. Today 10.5 million Nigeria children are out of school; over 17.5 million are not being reached with social services. According to a report, titled, ‘Keep Away From Schools or We’ll Kill You’: Education Under Attack in Nigeria,” released by Amnesty International in October 2013, ‘the menace of Boko Haram on the educational sector of the country has been tragic with over 70 teachers and 100 students slaughtered and forcing about 15,000 potential students out of school.’ Over 200 girls abducted from their schools have been missing since April 24, 2014 and yet there is no clue to their whereabouts. Effort to rescue them have been more imaginary than real. It has been so politicizes that it gives no room for security intelligence to prevail. From Chibok to Lagos, the fate of the Nigerian child is the same.

Now, where do we go from here? I think the state of the Nigerian child today is a reflection of the fact that the Nigerian State lacks respect for the dignity of human person. Our children bear the brunt of our primitiveness as a people because they depend on us for protection. If a nation has no respect for dignity of human person, it will find it difficult to meet the fundamental deliverables of social contract, which is clearly entrenched in our constitution. Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution provides, ‘the welfare and the security of the people shall be the primary aim of government’. Look around you, you will not need to look too far before you find agreement with your conscience that the government has completely lost its bearing when it comes to the welfare and the security of the people.’

It is time to address the real issues. Until we as a people make an unflinching commitment to respect the dignity of people in our private and public life, our nation will continue to be a fertilized breeding ground for the abuses of the old and young. Unfortunately children suffer the impact of lack of respect for dignity of human person because of their state of development, which limits their responses and options.

Permit me to submit that the undeniable evidence that the welfare and the security of the children has become the primary aim of government is the establishment of a National Policy on Child Protection. The global thinking right now in child protection is systems approach. Systems anticipate the needs and the challenges of the child and make adequate arrangement in terms of private and public social services delivery to meet these needs and challenge as at when due. Systems enforce prevention and build early-intervention mechanism as tools of child protection.

Systems do not focus on rules. The focus is on creating a balanced culture of child protection, which takes the peculiarities of the people into adequate consideration. Systems are not only satisfied with the provisions of the law. The goal is to use enlightenment and social empowerment advocacy to help the people, including the children to give expression to the letters of the law. The recent UN Report on Violence against Children, earlier referred to reveals how ineffective the law is if it is not owned by the people through the instrumentality of enlightenment thus, ‘international conventions on human rights for children have flatly failed to guarantee protections for the most vulnerable members of society.’

Until we begin to think systems in terms of our response to the welfare and the security of our children, we remain unserious and enemies of the destiny of our children. To every, Nigerian child, I declare that there is every reason to celebrate. Breath is a proof of unlimited possibility; if you have it, you have hope. I say Happy Children’s Day to our children as I charge the rest of us To Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

A VOTE FOR DIGNITY OF HUMAN PERSON

When the choice is between protecting my DIGNITY of HUMAN PERSON and accepting a PLATFORM to give expression to my passion, my SENSE of DIGNITY tells me to choose the FORMER…
A compromised DIGNITY of HUMAN PERSON is also called, ‘DIGNITY BREACH.’
My message is the CAUSE…
My DIGNITY of HUMAN PERSON is the CURRENCY…
If I TRADE my CURRENCY for my CAUSE, I will soon be BROKE and BROKEN and DISCARDED…
Dear LORD, teach me to always KNOW that your DOORS keep my DIGNITY of HUMAN PERSON boosted…
And give profound HONOUR to my PERSONAL PROTOCOL…
Do have an INSPIRED week…
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s Day

Child Protection and Preparation for Marriage: Fundamental Issues to Consider (1)

I welcome you to my exciting world of Child Protection Social Empowerment Advocacy. Today, I am beginning a series of discussion, which sheds light on the foundation we need to lay before we begin to invite children to this world. This is an attempt to address the almighty issue of child protection from the very root and I think it is very important to the peace and stability of the family unit, where the child belongs. My commitment in this discussion is to tackle the fundamental issues people, who are planning to marry, must pay attention to as it relates to child protection.

One of the basic needs of a child is that a child needs somewhere to belong, first a family, then a community. The first question we must ask is: why does the child need to belong to a family? I think the answer is not far-fetched. It is simply for the reason of loving, nurturing and caring for the child. It is established that the child is not designed by the Creator to care for himself/herself. Please note that it is the responsibility of the primary and secondary caregivers to teach the child how to care for himself/herself according to his/her age and physical and mental development.

The second question we must ask is: when is a family safe enough or ready to receive the child. A man and a woman, married are pioneer members of a nuclear family. First, they must understand the meaning of a family and the purpose for its existence. They must understand the purpose of having children and how to raise them. They must understand that the decision to have children is not taken as a result of marriage. It means children must not be seen as the direct dividends of marriage. Though when, they are born, they will belong to a family, we must not forget that they are independent entities, with lives of their own, whose invitation into the family must be well planned and executed. Therefore, the decision to have children must be taken as a result of only two factors: first understanding the joy of having and raising children as independent entities, who have their own lives to live but which life they may never live or live well, if they are not properly raised by the primary and secondary caregivers; and second, preparedness to raise children, which child protection plays a major role. Child protection demands knowledge (what to do to protect children), skills (how to do it) and attitude (the fortitude to do what is to be done).

When the family is not prepared to receive children and they decide to have them, they fail to meet one of the five basic needs of a child. The implication of the foregoing is that though the child is born into a family or home, he/she is born homeless. In the cause of this discussion, I will shed light on the definition of family.

Bill Gates Senior in his book ‘Showing Up for Life’ shed light on the issue of preparing to raise children as follows: ‘I believe that being a parent is one of the most important jobs any of us will ever undertake-and it’s the one most of us are at least prepared for-at least formally…For example, reflecting on my own experience raising a family, I think about how as parents most of us try to feel our way through the challenges that come with being married and raising children. We have very little formal training for those roles, and they are two of the most difficult and important things we’ll ever undertake.’

He further pointed to his own challenges, ‘like every other parent, at times I worried about my own competence as a dad. So much was going on-apparently including some things I didn’t know about. He concludes on this sobering note, ‘I am intrigued by the fact that most of us seldom look for any guidance on how to perform competently as parents when there is so much good formal training and information available.’

If the Ghanaian proverb that ‘the ruinof a nation begins in the homes of its people,’ is true and I believe it is,the family must be prepared by its pioneering member to receive the child.

I think abuse begins from when couples decide to come together without making adequate plan for the children the plan to receive.

If people prepare and invest in having children same way they prepare for weddings, our children will be better raised and they will live in a batter world. It is common to note that the preparation for wedding ceremonies is never for the sole benefits of the two people who are getting married. It is in most cases an unnecessary attempt to a statement to the world. On the other hand, the preparation to have and raise children well and protect them is for the benefits of the child, the family and the community. Please note that I am not talking about antenatal or buying baby things. I’m talking about deliberate effort to acquire knowledge, skill and attitude.

Think about this, how do you prepare when you are expecting an invited and respected special guest? How do you conduct yourself before the invited and respected special guest? What if you are fully aware that the invited and respected special guest will spend at least eighteen years under your care what kind of preparation will you make as a responsible host?

As you give the foregoing a thought, I charge you to join me tomorrow as I begin to discuss fundamental issues to consider about child protection as you prepare to marry. I invite you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

I’M AFRAID of My FAITH

I’m afraid of my faith,
When it doesn’t build my values…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it speaks everything but character…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it hobnobs with darkness…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it is only delighted with receiving…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it is reduced to the crumbs of bread and butter…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it is not duplicated in others for exploits…
I’m afraid of my faith,
When it cannot change the world for the better…
If I’m afraid of my faith for these things,
Then I’m afraid of extinction…
Dear LORD unto thy hands I commit my fears…
Do have an INSPIRED week.
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s day

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 10: how is the progress of the children measured?

I am here to do round up this discussion, which I began few days ago. I hope it has been interesting and rewarding.

I think the last child protection-focused question you must ask is how is the progress of the children measured? Monitoring progress must be one of the most critical responsibilities of secondary and primary caregiver. Monitoring of children progress takes us to the three areas of their lives, spirit, soul and body. Every encounter of the primary and secondary caregiver with the child must achieve development and progress. Any encounter with the child that does not bring progress is a waste of a priceless opportunity to make a positive contribution in the life of the child.

Progress or development of the child in the hands of the primary and secondary caregivers must never be subject to their whims and caprices. It must be made to pass through the eagle eye of universal principles and universally acceptable standards of child development. It is a dangerous venture for children to be in the custody of primary and secondary caregivers, who lack the commitment and the expertise to understand the developmental needs of our children and take every step to meet same. When children are in the care of people in this category, they have no clue about what the child is going through, not to talk of helping the child. They have no eyes to see symptoms of abuse not to talk of smelling it. Their senses are dull in picking the emotional signals of the child, transmitting reports of abuse or abusive treatment and his/her yearnings, hopes and aspiration for prevention and remedy.

The point which the primary caregiver must know is that abuse is a formidable threat to the progress of the child and it happens even in strangest places including the children department of religious places of worship. The other point is that abuse has as free reign or dominion where the primary and secondary caregivers are clueless about child development and how to measure same. Those who are skilful in child development smell abuse (and its attendant symptoms) from many miles. They do not only smell it, they know in clear terms what to do to prevent it, where it already gaining some grounds, they know what to do to stop it and where it is already fully perpetrated, they know the urgent steps to take to help the affected child.

Therefore for the children department of a religious place of worship to protect the child, the leaders, teachers, volunteers and all other stakeholders must have a clear picture of child development, what they want to achieve with the child, spirit, soul and body, which is their contribution towards the development of the child and the expertise and processes to measure the progress being recorded by their contributions. The foregoing helps them to make tangible contributions in the life of the children, accounting for the period the child is under their care, detecting and preventing and detecting abuse.

I think I am through…Now is the time to sign out finally and wait for your responses on this matter of conscience. I charge you today to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…