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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
Civic Rights …

MENACE OF CHILD ABUSE

Children are gifts from God and deserve to be catered for with special care. Indeed, parents are often referred to as care-takers responsible to God who has entrusted the children to them. Every adult should be seen in this regard as equally obligated to give special care to children whether they are their parents or not. In the African setting that prides itself as communitarian, many adults could be seen taking care of children. But it is a changed world, today many parents care for only their children, preferring not to interfere in other people's business.

No matter the situation, protecting children is our collective duty and a sacred task. Protecting vulnerable children is even more pressing in the context of the world where many children are trafficked daily and exploited in various ways especially when they are subjected to hawking for adults, when they are used as house-helps or even when they are sexually exploited as sex toys for adults. Child abuse is here with us and it is our collective responsibility to protect our children against this evil.

According to Wikipedia, "Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child or children, especially by a parent or other caregiver. Child abuse may include any act or failure to act by a parent or other caregiver that results in actual or potential harm to a child, and can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with." The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child abuse and child maltreatment as "all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power."

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Sexual abuse refers to the participation of a child in a sexual act aimed toward the physical gratification or the financial profit of the person committing the act. Truth be told, child sexual abuse has become a growing phenomenon requiring urgent attention. This is because almost 20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child in a study carried out in the Western world. Figures are not available about the situation in Nigeria and children are often afraid to talk or report such cases, especially if they are still kept under the care of the molesting adult.

 In a country like Nigeria, the case takes on a difficult trajectory due to our cultural inhibitions, cases relating to child sexual abuse are likely to be hidden within the family, further endangering the welfare of the minors. When cases are reported, it is probably after an outsider had noticed something and cajoled the minor to talk. Our society must become transparent, the benefit must be given to the minor always and proactive measures must be put in place to educate children about their susceptibility and how to avoid being in uncompromising situations.

Sexual abuse can scar a person for life. Many people have developed an aversion to the opposite sex simply because of the painful experience they suffered when young. Parents must therefore be vigilant. Vigilance requires presence. It will take much longer for an absentee mother or father to notice anything, much less be in a position to protect an abused child. The education of children has always been a sacred task of parents, the Church affirms the same when she recognizes the family as the domestic church, the primordial place of education, especially in the faith and for establishing and instilling, social, cultural and moral values.

There is no gainsaying the fact that our family life today needs an urgent re-engineering. The pursuit of money for pleasure should not be the dominant force driving our life. Social interaction must be re-evaluated and directed along the right path. With the incursion of social media negative values, children can pick up many bad values and practices on their own, but proper education can help re-orientate them. This is why the church advocates that the proper place for sex-education is within the context of the family. Parents must expose their children to the sacredness of their body, the purpose of human life and what makes for a truly happy and fulfilled life. Children must know very early, limits to every relationship and be taught to talk when the boundaries are being skirted by other people. Usually a loving relationship and engaged presence will help children to be comfortable to discuss this issue and any abuse with their parents.

Parents must therefore, be present, be open, be supportive and be firm to help protect all God's children in danger of being abused.

 


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