The world cannot be under lockdown forever. For every problem, there is a solution and an expiry date.

Our world as we know it today has survived and triumphed over so many natural and human-made plagues, pogroms and disasters, coming out stronger through the help of God and deployment of human ingenuity.

The COVID-19 pandemic, as W.H.O has christened it, is not going to be different. We will conquer and come out stronger.

It is with this high optimism that I do this Social Protection Advocacy this morning as a Roving Public Interest Lawyer, representing the interest of the precious Nigerian Child and four dimensional parenting circle, who provide them care and protection, my primary constituency of over 23 years.

First, I must say that we can accelerate the departure of this pandemic by paying close attention to preventive measures as enumerated by W.H.O.

It is important to note that our precious children are not in high risk of contacting the COVID-19. That appears to be because, their immune systems are stronger. According to a study in England it was speculated that “children might be less likely to become infected or, if infected, may show milder symptoms.”

It is good news for our precious children but it does not take away keen and deliberate actions, that we must deliberately take to Secure A FRIENDLY and PROTECTIVE Environment™ for our precious children at this very critical time because it is clear that they are not immune from contacting the disease.

It is also a long established practice that children must be protected from danger and diseases, including the possibility and threat of it. Therefore we must take the protection of our precious children from COVID-19 very seriously. 

Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University stated in a news interview  that protection of Children is not just for them, but the population as a whole. He said “If it does penetrate the pediatric population that might amplify the outbreak.”

It is in the light of the foregoing that I make the following quick recommendations:

Engage our precious children in decision making: Our precious children have a right to participate in matters that concern them. It is one of their four baskets of rights. For example, schools should not just close down as directed by government without the school leadership addressing the children on the subject matter and sounding them out for what it is worth. 

As part of the engagement we must dutifully explain to our precious children  what the pandemic is about; what efforts are being made by our world to solve it and their roles in same. This must begin with the precious children taught the preventive measures, how to apply themselves to same and diligently and patiently supervising them to follow through till their response becomes a habit and ensuring that there is no relapse.

It is important to note that measures like social distancing, not touching faces, water sanitation and hygiene are not easy for our precious young ones to practice. Therefore keen supervision is recommended.

Conversation with our precious children:

The child is a full-blown person, with feelings like everyone. The real challenge is that the child has more feelings than the capacity to express same. One of the major characteristics of the PERSONHOOD of the child is the capacity to reason and act in accordance to their reasoning, whether they are aware of it or not.

We must therefore be interested in how the child is feeling and reasoning at this time. The way to draw out the feelings and reasoning of the child at this time and always is to be deliberate about starting a conversation, using verbal and nonverbal communication skills and for the very young ones, observation. 

Act on the findings of the conversation:

Our conversation with our precious children will definitely birth diverse revelations and finding, some of which may even be surprising to us. It is our responsibility to address every issue raised by our precious children. Some of them may be experiencing fear, traumatic and post-traumatic disorder. The help they need may not even be within our capacity, we must however assure them and reach out to experts, who can help address their issues and restore sanity to them.

It is important we pay attention to our precious children as we practice social distancing. Our precious children always need stimulation, like hugs, holding of hands, perk on the cheek and all that. While parents practice social distancing they must be careful not to become hostile and unsociable to our precious children. The danger in that is that the pandemic will pass but the absorbent minds of our precious children will retain and practice whatever dominant social skills we practice with them and before them at this time.

Make plan for Securing A FRIENDLY and PROTECTIVE Environment™: Vacation period is normally a volatile time for our precious children as abusers capitalise on the absence of the parents to perpetuate all forms of abuse.Therefore parents and guardians must make deliberate efforts to put in place a system that ensure the protection of our precious children.

By our understanding and the fact that Social Protection is lacking in Nigeria as a Third World country, we know that this is tough for primary parents. But we know that where there is a will there is a way.

And for the precious children of the hewers of wood and drawer of water, the community and the state as prominent members of the four dimensional parenting circles must come to their aid by way of Social Protection at this time. Social Protection must become a tool to Securing A FRIENDLY and PROTECTIVE Environment™ for our precious children, particularly at that level.

Kindly note that patience, vigilance and optimism are inevitable tools in discharging our responsibilities to our precious children, noting that as adults, we have our own fears and concerns about many things and the pandemic also.

Finally, we are all in God’s hand, who protects and grants us wisdom to be resourceful and vigilant in responding to the needs of our precious children at this very trying but hopeful time.

Kindly note that we are available to clarify and offer further counsel on any of the issues we have raised in this piece and others under the auspices of our NGO, Securing A FRIENDLY and PROTECTIVE Environment™ for Children Society. We are just a call away and DM away. Phone lines are: 08188273490 and 08186830275

Do have an INSPIRED day.

Yours IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PRECIOUS AFRICAN CHILD, your Dearly Beloved Roving Public Interest Lawyer, Taiwo AKINLAMI

(C) 2020 Taiwo AKINLAMI


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