Story by: Kere Francis

Children are often referred to as a gift from God. Their wide eyed innocence and angelic demeanor is often greeted with smiles and happiness all over the world.

Nigeria is no different as children are often seen not only as divine gifts but, as a proof of virility and the crowning jewels of marriages. As such, Children’s Day is celebrated heartily in the country, a day peculiarly set aside to appreciate and celebrate the Nigerian child.

However, with the rising population of over 58 million children under the age of 14 in a developing economy and a poverty level of close to 80% of the population, it can be deduced that not every child will be fortunate enough to feel that love and affection in the way that they ought to.

Reasonably, The Child’s rights law was adopted by Nigeria in 2003, in a bid to domesticate the rights of the Nigerian child and reduce considerably – the issue of child abuse and parental neglect in the country.

Nonetheless the law was only passed at the federal level and can only be fully effective if the states enact it. What is more disappointing is the fact that, only 26 out of the 36 states in d country have passed the law.
Till date, all over the country cases of child abuse and parental neglect thrive continually in spite of various efforts to sensitize the public on the criminality of this gruesome act.

To expatiate further on this discussion, we shall examine a case that ensued in Surulere area of Lagos state. Tosin is a 12 year old boy living in the Shitta, Surulere. He hawks bread to support his family.

Everyday rather than wake up and prepare for school like the rest of his peers, he is expected to be up as early as 6:00am and head to the bakery where he gets the bread and proceeds to walk miles around carrying it on his head, whilst chanting ‘buy your fresh bread’ all in a bid to make money for his single mother who has eight other children.

It is evident that Tosin is exposed to a variety of risks including; accidents, kidnapping, drugs,association with hoodlums and other social vices.

This is just one of many scenarios around the country as children are continually abused physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually on a daily basis. The importance of the child cannot be over emphasized, the child be it yours or not is worthy of love and affection.

Therefore, the reprehensible act of child abuse should be arrested without relent until it can no longer rear its ugly head in our society, as these children are our future and the leaders of tomorrow, for this reason we should take great care in guaranteeing the protection and preservation of their rights. This is the only way to sustain our nation and preserve our culture, values and pride as a great people.