Just two days ago, I received a broadcast message on my blackberry, about a news report in PM News of a 7 year old girl, who was serially raped by three men for six months in Lagos State; http://pmnews.mobi/output.php?id=8310. One of the cruelest things that can happen to a child, is to have his/her innocence cruelly snatched away by adults who should protect them. As parents, sisters, brothers, or guardians, we cannot afford the consequences of ignorance, hence, we must take proactive measures to ensure that this monster of child abuse, is reduced to the barest, if we cannot stop it altogether. We must make the children in our care, 'off-limits' children, by arming them with the information the need to handle a situation where they are being threatened by sexual abuse. We cannot afford to shy away from talking to our children/wards about sex. The best place for sex education to happen is in the home. That is where the foundation should be laid; every other agency should build on what has been started in the homes. The sexual predator is empowered by our silence, discomfort, and ignorance. We must make up our minds to shatter this silence by empowering our children/wards with appropriate information to combat this menace.
Sex is one topic that disturbs parents/guardians, and yet, many are uncomfortable about speaking with their children about it, probably because they were not taught as children too. I can sum up all the information I ever received about sex from my own mother in one sentence, 'if you as much as stand beside a man, you will get pregnant....' It was grossly inadequate, but at that time, it sufficed; the same cannot be said of today's children, who, aided by technological advances, are more savvy and exposed. Ignorance is no excuse. There is a wealth of information you can read up on, available on line and in books. For the next few posts, I will be featuring an indepth interview with Mrs.Christianah Abosede Akindolie, Founder/Project Coordinator, Christianah Fate Foundation (an NGO). Her organisation has done a lot of work in the area of child sexual abuse, and she is also a published author of several titles on this issue. She is on the field, and has a wealth of information to share on this menace, which she describes as a 'silent epidemic.' This is a snippet of what she shared with me,
'In 2012 alone, Christianah Fate Foundation was able to reach out to over 20,000 parents, children and teachers in schools and faith-based organizations. We made 3 television appearances and 7 radio live shows in 2012. One of our major achievements the official opening of our office on 19th May 2012 – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION CENTRE located in Road 5, Block Suite 10 Ikota Shopping Complex VGC, Lekki. Our services include counseling sessions, workshops for children and parents, providing educative and preventive materials. Sexual abuse cases can be reported to our office which will be handed over to the appropriate authorities. We also operate a help line for children and parents who want get answers to issues concerning sexual abuse.'
She shared a wealth of information that would be really useful in dealing with this epidemic. The interview was a long one, and I plan to break it up into parts for easy assimilation. Let us make it a date on this page for the next few days. Remember this: it does not have to hurt, to be a child. Let's protect our children, and keep them safe from abuse.