The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says it is adopting a comprehensive approach to curtail the menace of violence against children in Nigeria. Dr Olasunbo Odebode, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja to mark this year’s Children’s Day.
The 2017 theme is: “Child protection and SDGs: Issues and opportunities’’. Violence against children, according to her, is any form of abuse; it may be physical, emotional or anything that constitute an attack on the children. She identified some violence against children to include sexual and all forms of abuses, exploitation, child labour, trafficking, neglect and slavery, among others. Odebode noted that UNICEF is after children protection system strengthening approach which is all encompassing rather than taking them in silo or addressing them one after the other.
The expert, who described violence as multifaceted, however, said that addressing the menace in the society and ensured perpetrators were brought to book required multi-sectoral approach and efforts. Odebode who expressed displeasure on the rate of molestation, sexual abuses, assault, among other vices in the country, underscored the need for all hands to be deck to address the scourge.
According to her, we cannot fold our hands and allow the future of our children and the society to be ruined by the wicked ones. She emphasised that any child that is been violated in whatever form, if not addressed adequately, would in a long way affect the child physically, emotional, morally, psychologically and otherwise all through life. “In Nigeria, children are faced with a lot of challenges whether in the area of health, education, poverty, security or protection.
“In this regard curtailing the menace of violence against children in the society required multi-sectoral efforts or response. “And UNICEF has put mechanism in place across the federation like capacity building of Judges, teachers, Police, traditional and religious leaders, social welfare, changing the perception of what constitute violence, among others. “The capacity building was to acquaint them with what constitute violence and ensure that when the child is confronted with any form they will know what to do to effectively address the cases. “What we are after is child protection system strengthening approach; this means an encompassing strategy including prevention and response, not that we will wait till violence occurs before we act,” she said.