My first close shave with death was at age 7 or 8. After school as we went home unaccompanied, I had dared a classmate to cut a freshly plucked stick in the middle of my head. He did and I began to bleed profusely and had to be rushed for treatment. The brandmark is still resident in the middle of my head to date.
The question is, where were the handlers of 7 to 8-year-olds when they endangered their lives in the name of the play?
If childhood was synonymous with innocence, I Taiwo Akinlami never knew innocence. A female neighbor serially sexually molested me between age 6 and 8. It was a case of being accompanied by an adult, whose character my parents did not verify and could not vouch for.
I lost my friend, Dada as we played unaccompanied, climbing a carpenter’s workbench, abandoned in our school.
Leaving children unaccompanied is still the order of the day today.
We still keep children in the school buses alone with drivers. I recently read the pathetic story of a driver who sexually molested one of the children on the bus. In the past, I have heard and handled this kind of unfortunate but avoidable case of abuse as a result of leaving children unaccompanied or accompanied by irresponsible, unverified, and inappropriate adults.
While we must charge parents to take responsibility for accompanying their precious children, I strongly believe that it will be an empty admonition if we do not address the factors that take the majority of our parents away from their precious children.
Society must be ready to address Social Protection. According to UNICEF, ‘social protection covers the range of policies and programs needed to reduce the lifelong consequences of poverty and exclusion…’
In a country, where 92 million people are living in extreme poverty and the drive to initiate more people into poverty is in top gear, I think we must put pressure on the ruling class to empower our parents through tangible Social Protection policies. If this is not achievable, the system is damned and must be dismantled and replaced with an egalitarian society.
Do have an INSPIRED week.