Growing up, and even till present time, we heard and witnessed a lot of harm being done to children. These included but not limited to child abuse, rape, kidnap incest by older family members such as uncles, and much more. Seeing or hearing about harm done to children tears my spirit, so I decided to carry out a research on ways children can be protected so as to reduce the occurrence of these malicious acts done to the innocent young ones. The research is going to be divided into child protection in school, child protection at home and child protection in the community.
Child protection in school
Child protection in school is the primary responsibility of the school authorities and the academic and non-academic staff. The school authorities include the proprietor / proprietress, the principal or headmistress, the vice principal and the parents and teachers association. Where the school is a public school, the proprietor is always the federal or state government. Where it is a private school, the proprietor or proprietress is the owner, or the person who established the school.
- The proprietor has the responsibility of providing adequate infrastructure and amenities for the school and ensuring the good maintenance of the infrastructure. The infrastructure include the school buildings which must not be dilapidated or be in a bad state to the point of being at the brink of collapse as the collapse of any school building may cause serious injuries or death to the affected pupils. The school buildings include the surrounding walls or fence and gate.
- Secondly, the proprietor and teachers must formulate and operate the school policies that would safeguard the well-being and safety of the pupils or students. For example, pupils bags and baggage must be frequently checked to forestall or prevent the possibility of the import of dangerous weapons like knife, daggers, guns, acid etc. to school by students or pupils, as some students may bring such to school to deal with their colleagues, settle sores, or avenge wrongs done to them.
- The school authorities must ensure that all students or pupils are subject to the same rules and regulations of the school without exception or preferential treatment. Students be it senior or junior or prefect should not be given unquestionable power or authority as such powers may be misused or abused.
- There must be a disciplinary committee in every school. The committee is to look into cases of oppression of juniors by seniors, bullying of helpless students, incessant punishment of juniors etc and deal decisively with the erring or guilty students to serve as a deterrent to others.
- Each school should have its own security personnel to enhance the well-being and safety of the pupils or students, and teachers of the school.
- Pupils or students’ activities in school need to be well and constantly monitored by the teachers and security personnel.
Child protection at home
Charity they say, begins at home. The child’s protection at home is the primary responsibility of the parents or guardians including the nannies .
- The parents are fully expected to do a good job of the socialization or upbringing of their child through well thought out and stipulated dos and donts or rules and regulations to guide their child’s behaviour.
- The parents must monitor the activities of the child at home e.g the kinds of films or movies watched by the child, what he or she has downloaded or stored in his or her phone and laptop.
- The kind of company, friends or peer groups joined by the child must be known and screened so as to prevent the child from moving with bad gangs or being negatively influenced by deviant peers or friends.
- Parents or guardians must at all times search or check the school bags, wardrobes, portmatoes et of their child to ensure that the child is not being secretive or hiding anything from them.
- Parents or guardians must visit their children’s school frequently to monitor their activities or progress and obtain feedback from their school about the type of life they live in school and the type of company or peers they move with.
- Parents or guardians must ensure that their houses are well fortified against intrusion or invasion by outsiders or unknown persons e.g by erecting walls or fence around the house with gates with barb wire to safeguard the well-being and safety of their family.
- Parents or guardians should try as much as possible to attend to the needs and aspirations of their children to prevent them from seeking help or assistance from outsiders, friends, peers etc. as this may expose the children to danger or peril.
Child Protection in the community
Child protection in the community is a joint responsibility of the parents, the elders, the age grades or associations like vigilante groups, the religious organizations, the traditional government institutions e.g the Oba or Bale and his chiefs and the local and state governments.
The parents have the direct responsibility of socializing the child and watching the footsteps of the child to ensure that he conforms to the norms and values of the society and does not become a misfit, deviant or criminal. The age grades are the peer groups with which the children, youths and even adult members of the community identify and operate. The age grades have the direct responsibility of guiding and moulding the character and personality of their members. While they acknowledge and reward the good deeds of some members, they are expected to discourage or dissuade other members from emulating the erring ones or bad ones through the application of sanctions. It is these age grades that act as the traditional police and army (warriors) in the community. They wage war against crimes and criminals and bring offenders to book. They are the prosecutors in traditional court trials and it is they too who implement the decisions reached at the traditional courts.
The vigilante groups in most cases are ad-hoc security groups set up by community members comprising nominated or volunteer community members. They are set up to combat the spate of crimes or criminal activities observed in a community. In many cases they are set up as task force to cleanse or rid the community of evil doers, thieves, armed robbers, kidnappers etc.
The major role of the religious organizations is to instill in people the fear of God, the spirit of brotherliness, forgiveness and conscientious behaviour. They preach morality and give community members reasons why they must desist from wicked acts, evil acts, criminal and malicious acts etc. They also offer community members hope and spiritual protection. They are the solace of the weak and the oppressed as well as those who seek divine upliftment success and breakthroughs. The child’s protection believed by community members to be offered by the religious organizations is beyond human comprehension as this is reported to be from God Almighty. This is perhaps the reason behind people’s rush to seek refuge in churches and mosques on occasions of turmoil, chaos, war etc in their communities.
The traditional Government institutions comprise of the monarch (the oba, Bale, Igwe, Emir etc), the traditional chiefs and the age grades. They direct the affairs og their communities through the institution of controls for checking the excesses of their community members. They have the power to deal with security issues and secure the lives and property of the members of their community. Any observed threat to the peace and tranquility of the community or the overall security is quickly reported to the council of chiefs or council of elders and steps to curb or checkmate such threat are immediately taken through the meeting between the elders or chiefs and the paramount ruler (the king, oba, Igwe or emir). The decisions reached at the meetings of the council of elders and paramount ruler are executed or implemented by the age grades or warriors. The paramount ruler and his chiefs or elders are normally guided by the oracle which the chief priest consults from time to time in offering spiritual advisory services to them.
The local and the state government have the ultimate power to preserve the security of all community members. They are in control of the police and the legislature. They have the wherewithal to procure infrastruction including ammunitions for the protection of the lives and property of the members of the communities. The local and state government have the legal backing and funds to execute their programs.