By Gloria Ibesi and Ebube Edieh
The Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs, FMWA, has organized an awareness and sensitization programme on ”Ending Violence against Children for School Children”, sensitizing them on the various forms of violence against children and educating them on their rights and responsibility as provided in the Child Rights Act, 2003.
There are lots of work to be done in areas of child protection in view of the happenings in the country today. The issues of child trafficking, baby harvesting, online child sexual exploitation, kidnapping of school children, and child bullying in schools, are emerging issues that need to be given the desired attention across the country; says the Honorable Minister of Women’s Affairs, Barr. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Child Development, Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Mrs Christiana Oliko during her address of welcome in the Sensitization Programme.
Speaking at the event which took place on 25 October 2023, the Minister appreciated the Commissioner for Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare, Anambra State, Hon Mrs Ify Obinabo, for supporting the programme and mobilizing children from different schools and backgrounds to participate in the event; even as he also thanked the host school for providing the venue for the event.
She stated that the main area of focus of the programme was to sensitize the children on various forms of violence against children, the need to end them and to educate them on their rights and responsibilities as provided by the Child Rights Act, CRA, of 2003.
She also disclosed that the Federal Government had demonstrated commitment for ending violence against children, which, he said, was at the highest level, by the launch of the nationwide campaign to end violence against children in 2015 and against child marriage in 2017.
She thanked the children for their attendance and active participation in the programme, urging them to continue to love one another, obey constituted authority, avoid bad company and peer pressure and focus on their studies to enable them to attain their potentials and grow into well rounded adults for self-actualization and sustainable national development.
Speaking on “Understanding the Rights and Responsibilities of Children as Enshrined in the Child Rights Act, 2023”, the Assistant Director, Child Development, FMWA, Mrs Mariam F. Shaibu, stated that the Child Rights Act was the law that guaranteed the rights of all Nigerian children and provided for the best interest of the child to be paramount of all actions. The Act, according to her, expanded the human rights bestowed on Nigerian citizens which is the constitution and also provided for the child to be given protection and care necessary for its well-being.
She defined a child that is provided for in the Child Rights Act as anyone who is below the age of 18, further mentioning that the rights were grouped into four clusters which included survival rights, participation, protection rights and development rights.
Some of their rights as provided in the CRA, according to her, were: the right to development and survival, the right to a name, the right to freedom from discrimination, among others. She urged the participants to endeavour to educate their fellow children on their rights and other things they had learnt for the benefit of all children in the country.
In her paper presentation, Mrs Christiana Oliko addressed the topic “Ending Violence against Children in Nigeria”.
She said, ‘Culturally, Nigeria regard children as gifts from God; they are the future of any nation and as such must be properly nurtured protected and assisted to develop to full and balanced personality within the family environment, in an atmosphere of peace, happiness, love, understanding, among others,’ adding that those qualities would enable a child to strive better.
She described violence against children as the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself or another person, against a group or community that results or leads to the likelihood of injury, death, psychological harm or deprivation, noting that children in Nigeria were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence.
She encouraged children to report cases of child violence, whether it was meted on them or on other children, to the right persons and authorities.
The participants were also enlightened on “Drug Abuse and Mental Health Issues” taken by Emmanuel Alhassan, PCDO, FMWA.
The event which was hosted at Udoka Nursery and Primary School, Awka, (St Patrick Cathedral) Anambra State had students and pupils from many schools, including Udoka Primary School Awka, Igwebuike Grammar School Awka, Girls’ Secondary School, all in Awka; Community Secondary School, Umuokpu; St Patrick’s College, Awka among others; as well as representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development and some teachers in attendance.
Talks and paper presentations by the FMWA team; Quiz competition conducted by the Ministry team for some of the participating students; presentation of gifts to the students and teachers and entertainment presented by the students, formed the best parts of the event.
The event was concluded with a vote of thanks and closing remark by the Manager of Udoka Primary school Awka, Rev. Fr. Mark Ikeh.