Tuesday, 23 May 2017

As the Children’s Day celebration beckons


Children’s Day is an event celebrated in many places around the world. The Day is simply set to honoura children and minors.  The International Children’s Day had its origin in Turkey in 1920 (April 23, 1920) and later in the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925.  It was first celebrated worldwide in October 1955, under the sponsorship of International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva.

The idea of a Universal Children’s Day was mooted by Rubab Mansoor grade 8 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954. It was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.  It was also chosen as the day to celebrate childhood. Generally, children get all excited and eagerly await the day.

To underscore the importance the United Nations attaches to children, one of the steps taken was to set aside November 20 of every year as the Universal Children’s Day. It was first marked worldwide in 1954 under the auspices of the UN.

Here in Nigeria, May 27 of every year is dedicated to celebrate children. It is usually a school-free day, with primary and secondary school children traditionally decked out in their school uniforms for competitive march-pasts in open fields, with top government officials on hand to acknowledge their salute.

Beyond the pomp and pageantry however, the Children’s Day in Nigeria calls for greater attention to the multiplicity of challenges that children face. Nigeria remains one of the countries with the highest number of out-of-school children and school dropouts roaming the streets. In the North, they are known as al majiri (or Islamic pupils cast loose in the streets to beg for alms). In the South, they are mostly found in the streets hawking (usually) a variety of petty items.

Children have come under additional pressures as a result of upsurges of violence, abuse, trafficking, stigmatization, etc., which has uprooted millions of them from their homes.  Many of these children have been living in Internally-Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps in many parts of the country and have been out of school for years.

In addition to this, Nigerian children still suffer child labour, domestic violence and deprivations linked to poverty and ignorance. The girl child, in particular, is increasingly targeted by abductors who either kidnap them for ransom or force them into early marriage. 

We call on both Federal and State governments to take the welfare of our children, especially the less-privileged ones more serious. We must devote more care and attention to the wellbeing of the children of the poor, otherwise, when they grow up the society will never know peace.

One would wonder then if parents should not strive to ensure good parenting.
When parents are seriously busy, children can often spend more time with unpredictable maids, unrated media content and their peers than with their parents. This often instills bad influences into their lives and is the cause of misconduct.

As we celebrate another children’s day, parents should sincerely evaluate their parent-child relationships. If in doubt that their efforts are adequate or that the children are heading in the right direction, they should make proper amendments.

They should do these things knowing that vagabonds do not grow from the soil and neither do terrorists fall from the sky.

Young people who have lent themselves to agents of terror in Northern Nigeria by becoming suicide bombers is a warning of how the neglect of children on cultural, religious or whatever basis can come back to haunt the society.

Caring for the welfare of our children is in the national interest. They are still the leaders or terrors of tomorrow!

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