Children are blessings from God. They are one of the ways God shows us His Love! Giving birth to Children is worth all the pain. Nothing in the world is as grand. They are absolutely beautiful gifts from God and are blessed every day by their plain thoughts and open minds. They want to fulfill their dreams and overcome their fears and they are perfect reminders to adults of their unlimited ability to dry the tears, from their hearts and minds, spirits and souls. Love with no strings is their major article on display.
Children become a source of happiness in homes and societies even as they eventually grow up to become the future of every society. The involvement and contribution of children to the lives of parents, teachers, and other related people all through their lives cannot be ignored. Children are loved by everyone and without them life would become very boring. They are specially blessed by God and they possess the innate ability to conquer our hearts with their beautiful eyes, innocent activities, and smiles.
Children’s Day is celebrated on different dates in different countries every year to pay tribute to children all over the world. In Nigeria, it is celebrated on the 27th of May each year. This day is celebrated as Children’s Day because of the great love and affection people have for children.
Children’s Day celebration comes with lots of fun and frolic activities and the day reminds us to renew our commitment to children’s welfare including their health, education, and general well-being. Children were Chacha Nehru’s ideals and were given lots of love and care by him. It is an occasion to appreciate the qualities of childhood.
Children are considered the building blocks of any nation. Though they may be small, they possess the capability to change any nation positively. They are the responsible citizens of tomorrow as the development of any country lies in their hands.
Children’s Day celebration is also to remind us of their rights, benefits, and privileges. As leaders of tomorrow, they need to be respected, specially cared for, and protected by their parents, guardians, teachers, and other members of society at large.
Even though they are often abused in many ways by various members of society these days, the menace of child abuse needs to be checked in all societies.
Globally, child abuse includes but is not limited to:
The use of children as soldiers or militants, child prostitution, verbal abuse, physical abuse (including but not limited to female genital mutilation FGM), underage marriage, sexual abuse such as rape and molestation, and child labor amongst others.
The exposure of children to abuse is also related to their gender as stated in a World Health Organisation (WHO) report published in 2020 that assertively stated that up to 1 billion children mostly females between the ages of 2 and 17 were exposed to physical, sexual or emotional violence. It also added that females from ages 16 – 19 are 4 times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault and 82% of the victims know their abusers. Thus, the girl child is more affected.
It is noteworthy that apart from the abuses stated above, cases of abuse of the girl child involving some fathers, stepfathers, close relatives, or neighbors have been on the increase in Nigeria lately as reported by some sections of the media. This new trend in addition to other forms of abuse is devastating and should be fought in our society.
Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), foundations, international agencies and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of governments need to play vital roles in terms of sensitization and advocacy to educate the public on the dangers of child abuse especially as it pertains to the girl child. In this regard, Youthcare Development and Empowerment Initiative (YcDEI) has been at the forefront of fighting this menace by providing educational and technical support for all categories of young people at the basic level of education while simultaneously attending to the psychosocial needs of vulnerable children and youths with particular emphasis on issue-based advocacy and sensitization associated with the girl child in rural and peri-urban communities.
Children’s Day celebration should be a reminder of the importance of children in families, societies, and in the world.
As responsible and concerned members of the larger society, let’s join hands together to ensure that our children get:
- Proper care and love from their parents and immediate families.
- Good healthy food, clean clothes, and security.
- A healthy living environment where they can be safe at all times.
- Good quality education.
- Special care when needed.
It is very obvious that a lot of work still needs to be done to curb the menace of child abuse. However, it is recommended that:
- Governments at all levels and concerned law enforcement agencies should apprehend and properly prosecute all offenders and see to it that justice is served while at the same time ensuring that the victims are protected and not discriminated against for speaking out
- Celebrities should be encouraged to use their various platforms and content to draw the attention of their audiences to the dangers of child abuse.
- Religious leaders in churches and mosques should preach sermons that emphasize the importance of children in our society.
- Traditional leaders should educate their subjects on the need to do away with cultural practices that dehumanize children such as FGM and street hawking and begging.
- Parents, caregivers, guardians, and teachers should be vigilant and cultivate the habit of spending time with their children and wards each day so as to detect potential cases of child abuse early and children should be encouraged to speak out when being abused.
All hands must be on deck to ensure that the rights of children are not trampled upon and the issue of child abuse is addressed because as James Dobson stated “children are not casual guests in our homes, they have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built”.
Therefore, let’s all join hands together and make a pledge to secure the present and future of the world’s leaders of tomorrow so that we can build a better world.