By Olusola Agunbiade
Wikipedia states that “Child protection is the protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of children in and out of the home”. The school becomes the most important in this regard, considering the number of hours the children spend with educators outside their homes on a daily basis.
The children of these days are already over-protected before they arrive this turbulent world. The mothers through technology can identify a baby in the making from the first few weeks of life and begin to modify everything and sometimes depriving herself for the sake of the unborn child. The women of old would have run into months before they even realize a new life is on the way.
Everything is done in favour of today’s child that they therefore develop a self-centred mentality that makes a mockery of ideal parenting when the lines are not drawn. A child deserves love, care and protection but must not be shielded from the realities of life. The butterfly that is helped out of the cocoon and is not allowed to struggle to break out will never be able to fly. The process of forcing itself out provides the required fluid that energizes the wings.
From the process of birth to growth and maturity, today’s child is protected even from playing their God-given roles. The mothers of today (without any complication) will opt for a caesarean section to avoid the pains of child-birth labour and the baby is not allowed to naturally find its way with eyes closed into the world as expected of him/her.
When they arrive, they are so protected that at the slightest sign of illness they get attention and services like CEOs. Their body system becomes so clean and pure that the immune system has nothing to fight. And they grow with such fragility like an expensive glass cup that must not fall lest it breaks beyond redemption.
When situations change and they have to face some harsh conditions they hardly survive because they were never groomed ready for such eventualities.
These are the generation of children in our care and we can all understand why they need a continual protection. It has now become their right and they will demand for it at the slightest provocation. We are sometimes handicapped because all the laws are on the side of the child against the adult and we get confused how to deal with many situations.
I submit by stating therefore that child protection should NOT kill discipline. Child protection must allow a child to be exposed to the realities of life so that they will learn to fight for anything and everything including survival if need be. Child protection should not put the adult at the mercy of the child or make the child untouchable. But the realities of our society these days have made it seemingly so because our society is no longer as safe as it used to be and there are so many evils around that make the protection of the child a necessity.
I remember growing up when you get beaten for just any or no reason even by your own parents. You get beaten for talking too much, for being too quiet, for inability to maintain eye contact with your mum or dad outside the home, for eating outside without your parents non-verbal consent, for running outside the home when scolded, for talking back at an adult, for eaten dirty with mouth open, for lateness in return from an errand, for not helping out with house chores, for failure to understand what you were not taught but was expected to have learnt, for having a red ink anywhere in your school report, for talking about a neighbour when you were not asked – the list is endless.
All these are now tantamount to child abuse and may lead to serious consequences for an adult today if care is not taken.
Remember that the children of today do not belong to your own generation. Therefore, apply wisdom in dealing with them for your own sake, the child’s sake and the sake of society. I am just grateful I was not over-protected so I learnt to swim by the determination to stay alive after falling into a dam at the age of 12 with no one in sight to help and today I have medals to my credit in swimming and I can cook for myself today because my mother never spared me the slaps that accompanied my refusal as a boy to report in the kitchen while she cooked.
Show love and care to every child around you and ensure the environment is made safe for them. But remember not to over-protect your own children so that they can become independent and responsible to themselves and to society.
Agunbiade Olusola is the Principal of JNissi High School, Ogba – Lagos
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