By Okeoghene Akubuike
No fewer than 30 teachers and caregivers were trained on Thursday in Abuja by the Cardinal Onaiyekan Foundation for Peace (COFP), on how to handle violence against children.
Rev. Sister Agatha Chikelue, Director, COFP, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the training, said the purpose of the one-day workshop was to train the teachers on “Ending Violence Against Children”.
Chikelue said that participants were expected to train their fellow teachers and pupils on what they had learnt.
“The objective of the training is to identify, describe and commit to child rights, as well as identify and describe what constitutes violence against children and how they are perpetrated.
“Also to better understand the roles and responsibilities as teachers, caregivers and parents towards children and develop practical monitoring and reporting mechanism on violence against children.”
In her address, Chikelue told participants that the training would afford them the opportunity to rub minds and find better ways to address the menace of child abuse in the society.
According to her, children are now exposed to the life they are supposed to have in the next 10 years by their parents, teachers, religious leaders and relations.
“They have been put in that line at a tender age and if this is not addressed what kind of society are we going to have in the future?
“We cannot keep quiet anymore; we have to shout out against this menace, so government can help to do something about it.
“That is where teachers and caregivers come in because of their roles and positions in the society, to stand against child abuse by going back to our communities to tackle this issue and speak out against it.”
She urged the participants to do all within their power to help the children, adding that if they failed in the task they would have failed the children, themselves and the society.
Mrs Amaka Nwokocha, a facilitator, urged participants to share with and train their fellow teachers and pupils on what they had learnt, so the knowledge could be spread to more people.
Nwokocha said that if people became more knowledgeable about the issue of child abuse there would be a reduction in cases.
“Also if children are knowledgeable about the issue of child abuse, they will know what to do if they find themselves in such situations.”
Mr Austin Nnakwe, Programmes Manager, COFP, told the participants that the training should go beyond just coming to write but applying practically what they had learnt in their schools, homes and communities.
“Let us show love and compassion to these little children and let us stop abuse against them.”
Nnakwe also stressed the need for participants to educate their pupils and wards on sex education early, adding that they should teach them the real names of their private parts.
A participant, Mrs Bola Olupitan, from Discerning Readers International School, Jabi, Abuja, who also spoke to NAN said she had learnt many new things on the issue of child abuse.
Olupitan said she will go back and train her teachers and the parents of her students, and enlighten them on all she had learnt on child abuse and how to stop it.
Another participant, Abdrasak Babatunde, from Sheikh Abubakar Gummi Academy, Asokoro, said he was going to go back and equip his students with the necessary skills to ensure their rights were not abused.
Babtunde commended the organisation for organising the training and added that all hands needed to be on deck to address the issue of child abuse.
“We have learnt a lot through the discussions and presentations; we should go back to our places of work, families and teach the young ones how to defend themselves.
“We should teach them to speak up when their rights are being abused. A child that grows up with violence will influence the society in a bad way.”
NAN reports that participants were drawn from public, private, Islamic and Christian Primary and Secondary schools in the FCT.
COFP is a Non–Governmental Organisation (NGO) established in 2010 with the mandate to provide a platform for building and strengthening the processes of peace and social change in Nigeria and across Africa.