By Taiwo Akinlami
The #Noprotectionnochildhood Townhall Meeting, is an initiative of The Power Parenting ® Company LLC in partnership with S.A.F.E® for Children Society, and hosted virtually by Taiwo Akinlami, the Co-Founder and CEO of The Power Parenting ® Company LLC, United States of America.
Taiwo Akinlami, the convener of the townhall meetings explained that it began as part of the campaign, aimed at responding to the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a child who died due to alleged bullying by other students in a school in Lagos State, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa.
He noted that the townhall meeting exists to achieve the following objectives:
To provide a platform for the exchange of best practices between the African continent and the developed continents of the world, particularly North America and Europe, reaching out particularly to peoples of African descent on the subject matter of Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment® for our precious Children, thereby promoting the best interest of the child.
He stated that in the United States, child abuse reports involved 7.1 million children in 2020, according to the statistics on the website of the American Society for the Positive Care of Children. He also noted that another data shows that five children die daily in the United States every day because of abuse. Abuse of children in the United States of America is said to be the second highest among black communities.
He observed that the first casualty when a child is abused, is the childhood which is at the risk of being lost where protection from physical, sexual, emotional and neglect abuses is absent.
He submitted that abuse of any kind and under every circumstance dehumanizes the child, stating that Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 vividly described what it means to dehumanize a person which is to ‘make Somebody Less Human: to make somebody less human by taking away his or her individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of his or her personality, or his or her compassion and sensitivity towards others.’
He also noted that the death of children seems to speak to the levity with which matters that have to do with the safety and protection of children are handled in Africa and other parts of the world. He said that the school system, as a public institution is also bedeviled with this crisis.
This virtual Townhall meeting holds monthly and is also known as #noprotectionnochildhood. It started in February 2022, and we have so far hosted three meetings, with combined attendance of about 700 active participants and major stakeholders in the lives of our precious children, including primary and secondary parents, Child-Focused Non-Governmental Organizations, Community-Based Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations, Government Agencies, School Leaders, Teachers, Associations within the school system and others from Sub-Saharan Africa, United States of America and Europe.
On Saturday, 26th February 2022, the maiden edition held virtually with the theme: ‘Sylvester Oromoni and School Safety In Nigeria: Our helpful firsthand observations from the proceedings of the coroner inquest.’ It was well attended by participants from the United States (Columbus, Ohio); the United Kingdom Nigeria (Abuja, Lagos, Ogun State and Warri) amongst others and had as facilitators Taiwo Akinlami, co-founder and CEO, The Power Parenting ® Company LLC, United States of America, Mrs. Toyin Omozuwa, Founder Women Supporting Women Network, Nigeria, and Mrs. Ronke Adeniyi, Director Le Poshe School, Nigeria.
The second edition held on Saturday, March 19th, 2022, and the focus of discussion was ‘And the Children Took The Schools To Court: Fundamental lessons for educators from recent cases of students, who sued their schools for Bullying and Negligence.’ Taiwo Akinlami, co-founder and CEO, The Power Parenting® Company LLC, United States of America, Quan Abazie, Educator, United States of America decorated Army Veteran, published author, Stanley Ibe, International Human Rights Lawyer and Ms Queeneth Enilama, Educational Consultant and SAFE for Children practitioner and Member Taiwo Akinlami Academy Faculty facilitated this meeting which had over 200 participants from the United Stated of America(Columbus, Ohio); United Kingdom, Ghana and Nigeria(Abuja, Lagos State, Ogun State, Oyo State, Warri, Delta State and Uyo, Akwa Ibom State) among others
On Saturday, 23rd of April 2022, the 3rd edition held virtually, addressing the topic Credible Lessons From Other Jurisdictions: Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children Everywhere. The Town Hall meeting was well attended by over 200 participants from United States of America (Columbus, Ohio, Florida, Lawrence City, Kansas & New York); Canada (Regina); Nigeria (Abeokuta, Ogun State, Abuja, Effurun, Warri and Udu, Delta State, Lagos State, Makurdi, Benue State, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and Uyo, Akwa Ibom State); Uganda (Kampala), among others. It was moderated by Taiwo Akinlami, co-founder and CEO, The Power Parenting® Company LLC, United States of America and had as erudite panelists, Jaime Fiorucci, Director Voluntary Rural Empowerment, Uganda/USA, JenDina Bowers, Program Manager at Franklin County Children Services, Columbus, Ohio, USA, Peju Osoba, Child Protection Advocate of International repute, Co-founder of Child First, West Africa and UNICEF Certified Case Management Trainer.
Participants at the three meetings expressed profound satisfaction and gratitude that these conversations are coming to the front burner of public conscience and consciousness for credible actions.
At the end of the meetings, participants reached an agreement in respect of the following:
- Parents-School partnership, and commitment to Child Protection-focused due diligence by parents before enrolment of their children in schools were highlighted as very critical to the general well-being of our precious children, particularly as it relates to Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children System (Child Safeguarding and Protection). This is to ensure that the school has the prima facie structure and capacity to discharge its major responsibility which is the protection of the children under their care.
- There is a need for public and private schools and private and public institutions to set up a Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children (Child Safeguarding and Protection) System, codified into a policy and broken down into processes upon which all stakeholders, including children and parents are trained and retrained. No school should be left behind, with proper enforcement, funding and enlightenment by government, effective systems can be run in public schools in Africa, where there currently seems to be no working Child Safeguarding and Protection System.
- There is need for primary and secondary parents, schools, and their staff to embrace care and empathy while dealing with children and matters relating to them at home, in the communities and schools and the need for schools to show empathy when cases of abuse and death of children occur in their schools were noted as necessary.
- The need to have a functioning and active Parents Teachers Association in both private and public schools was highlighted as crucial to the protection of our precious children, particularly in schools. Schools need to make parental involvement a key part of every aspect of decision making and a child’s stay in school, listening, considering and implementing suggestions by parent as appropriate.
- It’s high time that primary and secondary parents, stakeholders and importantly law enforcement agencies interrogated the circumstances in which children die in the homes, schools, and communities, with a view to proffering preventive measures. Interrogation should also go beyond social media trends which is only temporary and does not offer enduring protection for our precious children from fatalities resulting from abuses.
- It was agreed that for these cases of deaths of children in families, schools, and communities not to reoccur there is a need for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and put Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children System (Child Safeguarding and Protection) in place and ensure strict implementation to ensure children are protected.
- Schools also must always discharge the duty of care they owe to all children enrolled in their school.
- Both primary and secondary parents need to invest in both the learning outcome and behavioral outcome of children to ensure their overall growth in all dimensions.
- It is not only within the school system that children are not safe, the safety and protection of children is now a global issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
- There is a need to understand WHY we need to protect children. Apart from the fact that protection is a right, the impact of abuse on a child is dehumanizing and can lead to dysfunctional adulthood. Once children are abused, they are redirected and it not just about children being protected but they must also feel protected and safe. When we understand the WHY, it informs the HOW and the required processes for assured income.
- There is a need to start to understand that in matter of Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children (Child Safeguarding and Protection), we do not move from passion to practice. To our passion, we must add the necessary training, skills, and knowledge to enable us act in the best interest of the child always.
- The community plays a major role in the protection of children as a result the community needs to be consulted extensively to understand the issues, they face concerning Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children (Child Safeguarding and Protection) and be properly empowered towards fulfilling their inevitable roles.
- Ultra-poverty is at the root of abuses of our precious children in the poor communities of the world, where the existence of primary and secondary parents is abused as they are denied of basic needs of life. Therefore, there must be a commitment towards advocating for Social Protection for the abused and neglected people of the poor communities of the world. Family Strengthening is critical to protection of children and governments must be made to perform their part of their social contract to the people, which states that the welfare and the security of the people shall be the primary aim of government.
- Everyone has a duty to be a mandatory reporter, a commitment to report to the appropriate government and law enforcement agencies suspected or actual cases of child abuse or neglect, which come to our notice.
- Securing a Friendly and Protective Environment® for Children (Child Safeguarding and Protection) codified into a policy, broken down into processes on which every stakeholder in the lives of the child, including the child, both at the formal and informal settings are trained regularly is a prerequisite to Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for our precious children everywhere.
- The society need to understand that the moment any issue arises that affects children, the proper procedure and processes must be followed towards ensuring that the best interest of the child in question is assured and protected.
- We need to stop blaming the children when cases of child abuse occur, the reality today is that the perpetrators of the act or omission of abuse even get more support than the abused child.
- Children have an inevitable role to play in their personal safety and self-protection, they must be empowered by their primary and secondary parents to understand their rights and responsibilities while inculcating positive values and life skills in them. No secondary or primary parent has the capacity to be with a child every time therefore children must know how to stay out of harm’s way
- While responding to cases of abuse, particularly child sexual abuse or when a child conflict with the law, the legal and international protocols guiding reporting matters relating to children, which include the concealment of their identity, among others must be respected by all the stakeholders including the press, law enforcement agencies and the entire public in order to preserve the dignity of our affected precious children.
The next townhall meeting is slated to hold on Saturday, May 21st, 2022, and the theme is Parenting and Child Discipline According to Best Practices in a Rapidly Changing World.
The Power Parenting® Company LLC promotes Parenting Education as a social transformation and nation-building instrument to help African parents including parents of Africa descent everywhere in the world raise children, aware and conscious of their identity and uniqueness, well rounded in the knowledge of their cultural heritage and globally compliant, capable of interpreting and defining their role and stake in everyday issues of contemporary life, at the highest level possible as global citizens.
S.A.F.E® for Children Society is a non–profit and non-political organization concerned with engaging the precious African children, young adults and primary and secondary parent in Meaningful, Healthy, Helpful/Supportive And Inspirational conversations and engaging child-focused professionals, policy makers, institutions, primary and secondary caregivers to Envision, Design, Plan, And Provide Care for the precious African Child by all Standards Necessary. It is in the pursuit of this mission that the S.A.F.E® for Children Society embarked on the #Noprotectionnochildood Campaign in partnership with The Power Parenting ® Company LLC.
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