By Lucky Isibor
Stakeholders in Edo state have enumerated challenges faced by parents, social workers and security agencies in the protection of Children Against Violence, (VAC).
The Stakeholders who brain stormed at the Sensitization of Stakeholders on draft Edo state priority plan to end violence against children, held Wednesday, in Benin City organised by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with Smile, ActionAid, agreed that though there are adequate child protection laws in the state, but that the implementation of the laws have failed abysmally.
They enumerated the challenges to include collaboration and collision of perpetrators of violence against children with members of prosecution team to evade conviction when prosecuted, prosecution and persecution of teachers and other care givers who attempt to correct erring children; cover up of predators by parents, withdrawal of cases under prosecution by parents and failure of abused children and their parents to seek help.
Declaring the Sensitization workshop opened, wife of Edo state Governor, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, expressed optimism that new ideas on how to combat the menace of violence against children will be generated from the workshop.
Mrs Obaseki who was represented by Ms Efosa Uyigue, noted that the problem was on the increase in the state as we are daily inundated with cases of child abuse.
She said, “this problem is on the increase, so it is time to come up with this kind of collaboration as every time we hear cases where children are abused physically, emotionally and sexually.”
In an opening remark, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Magdalene Ohenhen, enjoined participants to take the workshop seriously.
The Commissioner who was represented by Pastor Chattie Anakhu, appealed to the participants to make their contributions to the draft.
“Make relevant contributions to the draft priority plan to end violence against children, because we feel that your contributions are equally important,” she said.
The state coordinator of Smile, Mr. Charles Durojaye disclosed that the Sensitization of Stakeholders continuous pointing out that the draft document had earlier been presented to media practitioners, civil society organizations and other stakeholders adding that it will also be presented to members of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, private schools proprietors, market women, traditional rulers, Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries.
Addressing the participants which comprise of Heads of Service of Local Government Councils in Edo state, Heads of Department of Social Welfare in the Local Government Councils, child welfare officials in the Local Government Councils, officials of the state Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ and the police, the program consultant and facilitator, Mr. Nathaniel Awuapila enjoined them to actively collaborate with all relevant government agencies charged with the implementation of the draft priority action plan as their role will go a long way in determining the success or failure of the journey to end violence against children.
The Stakeholders then suggested some ways to curb the menace to include: ” Sensitization of the general public to create awareness on how to combat violence against children, engagement and collaboration with traditional rulers and security agencies, to closely monitor all prosecutorial agencies to ensure that cases of violence against children are properly handled and convictions secured to serve as deterrent, collaboration with Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs and interfacing with Local Government Councils to have budget head for child protection.