I have dedicated the better part of my adult life seeking healing from the impact of my troubled childhood. I have also, by the sole help of God Almighty democratised in my areas of influence, the comfort I have received so far, preaching with every breath in my lungs, the Gospel According to Child Protection. The main focus of this unusual Gospel is to preserve CHILDHOOD in today’s child and attempt to restore CHILDHOOD to children and adults, who have lost same. I pursue the foregoing commitment with almost an obsessive sense of mission and I am unrepentant.
There is an abnormality, I have seen among some of us, who plead the cause of the child. It is that we are not careful about the people we present or endorse to children as role models. We do this presentation and endorsement by exposing children to their music and other works, inviting them to children programs as guests or speakers, appoint them as ambassadors to our organisations, get them to endorse our programs etc.
I think the mistake, we often make is that we mistake stardom for character and popular acceptance for acceptable values fit to be introduced to our children to emulate. A lot of times we tie the ‘successes of our program’ to the attendance by popular persons.
The question is that we fail to define in terms of the impact on the children, what a successful program is. For many of mass attendance of a program has been equated with successes without a taking a careful inventory of the contents of the program and the impact same have on children in the present and the future.
It is my belief that our contents for a program and the people we call upon to deliver the contents must represent the objective of the program. As a professional in the field of Child Protection, I believe that every gathering of children, irrespective of its nature, either for fun or for serious exchange must answer the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD TEST. It is in THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD, that we expose him/her to positive values and people who represent same in their private and public lives. It is the best interest of the child to preserve CHILDHOOD in a child and point him/her to those who have done same. Curiosity, innocence, freedom, peace and joy are the fundamental characteristics of CHILDHOOD. Some people have ignorantly or deliberately committed themselves to robbing children of these fundamental characteristics of children and yet, we bring them to our platforms as entertainers, speakers and all.
One of the best ways to get children to respect themselves , respect other members of the society and stand up for their own protection is through value orientation and value reorientation. Values are not independent variables. They live in and are live out by people, who demonstrate to children that sanity and soundness is a possibility in today’s perverted world.
Please note that the advocacy today is not for presenting to our children, people, who are perfect in character and commitment to positive values. There are no perfect human beings as we are not also raising perfect children. The point here is that before we present people to children as role models, we must be concerned about what they stand for in their private and public lives.
As one, who works with children and their caregivers, I am always careful, who I associate myself with, or whose conduct and work, I promote on my private and social platforms. For example, I will not endorse an artiste, whose songs are full of lewdness because he sang one tract, which promotes prayer or inspiration as a campaigner against child physical, emotional and sexual abuse. If I can endorse one so-called inspirational song in an album full of lewd songs or in the signing or acting career of an artiste, known for his/lewdness, I have endorsed all of the rest of the music or movies. Therefore my endorsement has become counterproductive to the cause I represent spirit, soul and body.
I think it is important we note the following:
1. That children determine the people, whose value they want to model by the introduction of the primary and secondary caregivers, whose judgment they trust as authority figures.
2. Children do not only follow the music or movies of an artiste for example, they follow their lifestyle, believing that the lifestyle is the key to the secret of the success, which the caregiver admires and introduce to the children.
3. Ben Carson and Maria Montessori have proven to us that children have what we call absorbent minds, which aids a fast process of socialization, which in turn form their personality or what we call their psychology.
It is not every star, who is star of positive values or who is a success story by virtue of the fact that he/she is popular. It is also not every story or their tellers that children should be exposed to. Their minds are too absorbent to be subjected to unwanted and unhelpful materials and character, represent the very opposite of the character traits, we seek to inculcate into our precious children. This is not a moral issue but it is an issue of what is appropriate for children.
Permit me to say most profoundly that the means of popularity, does not justify the end of positive or appropriate value impartation. It does not matter who is committing this awful anomaly, be it international or local organisations, we must stand up and raise a standard by ensuring that we do not promote same on our platforms and we raise a standard of advocacy against same.
Sense of mission demands that in all that we do, we must place as our standard and goal, THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD.
I am Taiwo Akinlami and I am Sober on my knees on the LORD’s Day.