There has been a lot of public outcry in recent times by religious bodies, schools, the media, non-governmental organizations, name it, over the increasing rate of child abuse in our society and the world over. Worried by this development, the quest for me to lean my voice to the crusade against this ill-wind that blows no society any good was necessitated.
Child abuse in my view is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or inaction causes injury, death, emotional trauma or serious harm to a child.
There are many forms of child abuse some of which are maltreatment, neglect, physical abuse, child trafficking, sexual abuse, exploitation, emotional abuse including child labor. Child labor simply put is employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood rights and interferes with their ability to attend regular school. The negative effect of this on a child is overwhelming as it is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to the children and very dangerous for our society. Another area of child abuse is when parents intentionally neglect their children by not providing them with food, water, shelter, clothing, education, medical care and other necessities of life thereby, making them vulnerable to social vices.
Children from well-to-do families are sometimes abused by their parents all in the name of love. They provide them with excessive food, gifts, allowing them to have their way all the time, buying indecent clothes for them, exposing them to the negative side of the internet like pornography, over exposing them to watching home movies with extreme romantic cases and equally not allowing other people to scold them whenever they go wrong (forgetting that it takes two people to give birth to a child but it takes the whole society to raise the child up). Again, when some parents refuse to allow their children to associate with other children they feel do not belong to their social class can also lead to child abuse. However, Child abuse is not limited to the home alone. It is found in churches, mosques, offices, schools, among others.
The attendant effects of child abuse on the society and even on the victims can not be overemphasized. Un-educated children can be used as willing tools in the hands of unscrupulous elements or politicians to cause social-unrest in the society like the Boko Haram. A sexually abused child equally finds it difficult to get over the trauma and in most cases, get scared of loving making or develop phobia for getting married. Some of the victims even suffer from inferiority complex. What then can be so traumatic than when a child is subjected to this kind of psychological and mental torture?
This evil wind, blowing rapidly across the world must be checked quickly through the collective effort of the following groups.
- The Parents: Parents must ensure that they monitor activities of their children especially the kind of clothes they put on, the friends they keep, co-operate with those teaching them in school, punish them where necessary if they go wrong and also, they should deny them some luxuries of life where they feel such luxuries could endanger their lives. They must provide them with basic necessities of life such as good food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, etc.
- The Government: Considering that all hands are not equal, the government should provide free education especially for children from poor backgrounds, provide them with social welfare and amenities and formulate policies that would provide stiffer penalties for offenders or abusers of these children.
- The School: Teachers in institution of learning should see these children as their own children, guide them, monitor their activities in class, teach them moral lesson and act as their mentors or counselors at all times. Where a teacher discovers any case of child abuse, that teacher should immediately report it to the relevant authorities.
- Religious bodies, media and non-governmental organizations:
They should continue their preaching or advocacy against child abuse and hold government accountable where they failed in their social responsibilities.
Children are precious gifts from God entrusted in our care and so should be cherished and handled properly. We cannot allow this increasing rate of their abuse to continue unabated. If we allow the current trend of child abuse in our society to continue or neglect this essential task, one day our society will be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. What then shall it profit a man or woman who produce children and make them vulnerable to social vices with resultant effect of death.
Compiled by: Joy Nwateh-Leonard