The news of the alleged murder of Sylvester by his fellow students at DOWEN College Lagos is truly bizarre.
The anger and tension that has greeted the same are expected as the common reaction of society.
It is however important to note that deaths of our precious children in schools either through bullying or express negligence of the school management are fast assuming a worrisome status of a common occurrence. I have personally investigated and placed on record for our learning and prevention almost all the cases where our precious children have died in different schools in Nigeria in the last 13 years, including cases, which did not make it to the limelight.
One reoccurring and disturbing decimal is that all the deaths were absolutely preventable because they are all traceable to the negligence of the schools’ management, who neglected the details of putting in place the necessary machinery to prevent and the ignorance of parents, who either did not know the questions to ask or did not ask the question and insist on knowing what machinery the schools have put in place for the safety and security of their precious children before registering them there.
I challenge anyone, who is interested to challenge me to a debate on my seeming audacious assertions on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of children in Nigerian schools, particularly in the last 13 years.
You see, the reaction to these deaths are ALMOST always the same. We make noise, we voice out our anger and with the passing of time, all of our reactions disappear like a vapour and we wait for another case to occur and repeat the ineffective circle. We lose the entire point to sensationalism, ably aided by Social Media.
There is something we hardly do and this is what my conversation is about today. We do not commit ourselves, as a preventive measure to knowing, understanding and solving the root causes of these deaths.
We do not ask are there globally compliant standards that schools or any other Child Focused Organisations are expected to adhere to in Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment® for our precious children? Are these standards recognised by our laws? What are the level of compliance of the Nigerian schools both private and public, highbrow and low crust?
Section 2(1) & (2) of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 make adequate provisions for Child Protection as the inevitable and number one responsibility of primary and secondary parents.
The Report on Violence Against Children in Nigeria 2015 published with the support of UNICEF found that abuse of our precious children was largely traceable to the lack of a System of Child Protection within private and public institutions responsible for providing care for children. The report recommended that it was MANDATORY for every Child Focused Organisation to establish a CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM as an effective preventive measure for abuse.
In our organisation, we take it further by recommending, leading public campaigns and contacting schools privately that the solution to Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for Children in Nigeria today is to establish a Child PROTECTION SYSTEM, codified into a POLICY, broken down into IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES on which every stakeholder(including parents and learners) are periodically trained to know the tents of the SYSTEM and their inevitable roles in making it work. We advise that such SYSTEM must be subject to review annually or worst case, once in two years. We postulated that the lead question schools must ask themselves is what machinery have we put in place according to LAW and GLOBAL STANDARDS to ensure that the precious children under our duty of care are safe from all forms of abuse. We explained to parents that the question: are my children safe under your care is obsolete and must be replaced with what LEGAL and PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS have you put in place to ensure the safety of our precious children?
In 2016, jolted by the findings of the Report on Violence Against Children, I was invited by the Lagos State Government as a Subject Matter Expert to work with other experts to develop a Child Safeguarding and Protection Policy, which all Child Focused Organisations in Lagos State must adopt.
The question today is how much has the Lagos State Government done in implementing this policy, which was backed by an Executive Order of the Lagos State Government? How many Child Focused Organisations in Lagos State are aware of the provisions of the policy not to talk of implementing them? Sadly, as it is in Lagos State, it is worse in other parts of the country.
It is my audacious submission today that any Child Focused Organisation in Nigeria today, which does not have in place a CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM, codified into a POLICY, broken down into IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES on which every stakeholder within the system(including parents and children) are trained periodically to know what their roles are and how to play the same is a potential CRIME SCENE. It will amount to ultra hypocrisy for us to claim to be concerned when we encourage by our acts of commissions and omissions we covertly and overtly aid and abet the institution and Institutionalization of potential CRIME SCENES, masquerading as Child Focused Organisations.
It is in view of the foregoing that we must be interested in our campaign tagged, ‘OPERATION SHOW YOUR CHIlD PROTECTION SYSTEM STATUS,’ by which we demand from Child Focused Organisations, particularly schools as follows:
1. Show to the members of the public in accordance to Section 2(1) & (2) of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 your CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM, codified into a POLICY, broken down into IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES on which every stakeholder (including parents and children) are periodically trained on knowing what their roles are and not to play the same effectively.
2. Show the public when the last such Child Protection System was reviewed as recommended as a global standard of care.
Every nation, which cares about her children do not pay lip service to their safety. They do not hope, they make sure. They do not wish, they will. They do not pitch and rest their tents around a fit of anger, occasioned by a sad occurrence, like Sylvester’s. They immortalise the occurrence and find closure and justice in Institutionalizing prevention as the CURE through a TESTED SYSTEM.
That is what this conversation is all about and I hope you can join me for the full version on my YouTube Channel http://bit.ly/TaiwoAkinlamiYouTubeChannel for our precious children and posterity sake…
I am Taiwo AKINLAMI