By Lucky Isibor
Children in Edo state have called on the state government to establish a child protection agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children, prosecuting violators of children’s rights and monitor the implementation of child laws in the state.
The children made up of primary school pupils and secondary school students and across the state made the call Friday, at the sensitization of children on draft Edo state priority plan to end violence against children organized by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in conjunction with SMILE and ActionAid at the Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre, Benin City.
The children who were divided into groups to articulate their contributions and input into the draft document, also appealed for measures that will prevent bulling of children by other children. They alluded to an incident of the molestation of one Emwanta Osamudiamen who was bullied by another child in July this year and lost one of his arms in the process.
Osamudiamen called on the government to ensure children are given holistic protection from violence by adults and fellow children.
Wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs Betsy Obaseki admonished the children to avoid keeping bad friends as most of them are easily influenced.
Mrs Obaseki who was represented by Ms Efosa Uyigue also appealed to the children not accept money from adults who may be posing as family friends as acceptance of such gifts may prevent the children from speaking up when attempts are made by such benefactors to violate them.
“I advise the children not to keep bad company because most of them are easily influenced by their friends, they give them wrong advice.”
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Magdalene Ohenhen assured the children that their input as articulated will be collated and put into the draft document as everyone involved in the development of the document is fighting for them.
The Commissioner further assured that she will carry their demand for the establishment of a child protection agency to the state Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
“We don’t want to put this document together without your input, because you are the one we are fighting for, you’re the one wearing the shoes and know where it pinches you.
“We are going to pass your message across to His Excellency, the Governor and we will see to it that all what the children have highlighted here today will get the necessary attention,” the Commissioner said.
Earlier, the Edo state coordinator of Smile, Mr Charles Durojaye shared the report of the national survey on violence against children conducted by the National Population Commission with the children and the draft Edo state priority plan to end violence against children.