Happy Children’s Day Nigeria!

The Passion in Parenting team wishes all children and lovers of children in Nigeria happy Children’s day celebration.

The theme of this celebration, ‘Violence Against Children: Addressing the Challenges’ is my passion.

Poor parenting skill is the root of most cases of violence against children.

It is my belief that if all the skill a parent possesses to provide support for the proper development of the child he or she nurtures begins and ends with threats and torture, the child would likely develop into a debased, unstable and violent prone adult who would likely keep struggling with discipline in his or her entire life.

Therefore, the best gift for children in this celebration it to embrace more passionately, the non-violent, lovely, peaceful and effective parenting approach.

Keep reading the passion in parenting posts for great parenting results.

 

  • Uchenna N. Nduka

Should Sexual Abuse of Children still take Parents Unawares?

When her four-year-old daughter first told her that she saw her brother sucking the breast of their domestic help, Mrs. Favour treated it with a wave of the hand. The boy was six years old then, while the domestic help was fourteen years old. Mrs. Favour, however, decided to take give attention to the issue when her daughter said again that she saw them again doing the same thing.

For three days, Mrs. Favour was at her wit’s end with all the persuasion techniques she could imagine to get her son to talk about it without success. Her house help denied knowing about it with a calm and confusingly naive disposition.

On the fourth day, Mrs. Favour took her son out, stayed for hours and returned to the house without him. On arrival, she acted a drama which was the trigger in unraveling the mysterious nature of her daughter’s story. She tricked her domestic help into believing that her son had confessed to sexual assault by her.

She got the shock of her life when her domestic help knelt down and pleaded that she should please forgive her! She said she was sorry that he used the little boy to fill the vacuum she felt when Mrs. Favour’s nephew, Bob, who was staying with them relocated. Bob was sleeping with her before his relocation.

Mrs. Favour’s six-year-old son later confessed that for a whole year, he was taught how the play with some parts of the girl’s body. He also said that the domestic help told him not tell his parents about it since they would not be happy with it.

Sexual Abuse of Children

Sexual abuse of a child includes all kinds of play with any part of the child’s body with the intention of deriving sexual satisfaction. It will also be abusive to expose a child to pornographic materials or erotic scenes.

The perpetrators of this evil

  1. This evil locates children where they usually stay: at school, at home, in the neighbourhood, at their play ground, in religious gatherings and in their holiday homes.
  2. The perpetrators are almost always the people children look up to for care. They include close relations, friends, neighbours, teachers, school administrators, religious leaders and children workers. It is possible that children who are victims have yielded because they felt obliged to reciprocate the care they have received from those perpetrators.

Common Strategies

  1. Secrecy
  2. Blackmail
  3. Coaxing
  4. Coercing

I marvel at the skill with which the victims of sexual abuse of children have executed and protected the ‘oaths of secrecy’ they swore with their perpetrators. Parents should understand that children are really gullible! I can imagine how cheaply blackmail would get them into making compromises. ‘I will deal with you when your parents go to work tomorrow.’ Or ‘Your father will flog you very well today when I tell him that wrong thing you did yesterday’. Or ‘When I fry plantain tomorrow, I will give you small’.

Evil Results

Sexual abuse of children has no good result. It is out rightly sinful. The reproach of this sin is made worse because it is committed with children! The victims are exposed to psychological trauma, haunting secrecy, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, perversion and other things which negatively affect their healthy physical, cognitive, psychological and social development.

The perpetrators of this evil have a very weighty rod to grapple with. “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NIV). They should immediately repent and ask for forgiveness.

Parents should, therefore, take measures to protect their children against this evil.

Preventive Measures

  1. Parents should please get closer to their kids, spend more time with them, talk more with them and listen more patiently to them. The bond of love between parents and their children has an insulating effect on abusers and blackmailers. Healthy parenting relationship is therefore a strong weapon of attack against sexual abuse of children.
  2. It is very important that children are told and encouraged never to keep their activities at home, in the school or somewhere else secret from their parents. They should understand that it is unsafe to do so.
  3. Children should be kept within view when they are playing. Dark and isolated places should be avoided.
  4. Parents should be visibly positioned in the lives of their children to censor the closeness of any one with the children, especially those who have sorts of pet names for the children such as ‘my darling’,’my wife’and ‘my husband’.
  5. Parents should avoid dropping their children at school too early in the morning or picking them too late after school.
  6. Families who live in large family houses should define the rooms which are safe for their children to stay in. It is safe to disallow children from entering the guest rooms when they are occupied. Guests should also be told not to stay in the children’s rooms. The sitting room should be the acceptable meeting point.
  7. Families that live in large compounds should consider the safety rating of all the houses in the compound going by their location and occupants. Children should not be allowed to visit homes that are unsafe or wonder off to corners that are isolated, dark or excessively noisy.
  8. Parents should watch over their children always, even when they are at religious gatherings.
  9. Holiday making also exposes children to sexual abuse. Parents should consider the safety of any intending holiday home. Safety of the children should never be compromised, no matter how attractive the holiday trip is.
  10. Parents should be in control of the films, TV stations and electronic games their children watch. Some of them are subtly infested with sexual activities.
  11. Education to protect children against sexual abuse is a necessity. It need not necessarily mention sex. It is makes children protective of their privacy and emboldens them to resist abuse and immediately report sexual advances. Parents who are not sure of how the give this education should refer the seminar guide in our devotional post of December 3rd, 2015.
  12. Parents should always pray against sexual abuse of their children.

Passionate parents are proactive in handling challenges.

-Uchenna N. Nduka

Parenting provides support to the learning process which occurs naturally with each activity the child engages in.

A parent shared this encouraging experience. Please read and share.

There was a day my daughter was waiting in my office after school. I became too engrossed with work that I did not notice when she became the ‘busy bee’ that kids usually are at her age. She was five years old.

She went beyond the allowable boundaries of play and a valuable item was damaged. She was the first to notice it. She immediately walked towards me with the damaged item soberly.

‘I am very sorry mummy. The paper punch has spoilt. It was my fault” she said with a palpable feeling of remorse.

“Oh! No!” I exclaimed.

“Why did you play with it? Did I not give you toys?” I asked with dissatisfaction.

“I am sorry mummy. I am very sorry” she pleaded.

She left the spoilt paper punch on my table, walked to a quiet corner in my office and sat down calmly.

I continued with my work since that was actually one of my peak periods. I was not aware that she was studying my mood until I saw her standing in front of me five minutes later.

“I really made you angry mummy. Have you forgiven me?” were her words that rekindled the love we both shared.

I drew her close and gave her a passionate hug. I assured her that I had forgiven her and was no longer angry. My facial expression gave her the confidence to go back to her usual radiance. She then smiled and left.

I however noticed that after that incidence, she was very careful not to touch any item in my office without my permission. She played with her toys.

Parenting Lessons

  1. In a healthy parenting relationship, the flow of communication between parents and their children is filled with love, patience, empathy and sound logic. Here, children are raised to be lovely, intelligent and conscientious.
  2. It is not true that children should be flogged before they learn a lesson. Without legislative prohibition, flogging children is a personal choice and not a necessity. Passionate parents who have effective parenting skills have achieved great results without flogging their children.
  3. It should be recalled that flogging (corporal punishment) was listed among the pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline in our reflection post of 7th January, 2016.

Passionate parents are in control of their emotions and communicate effectively with the child even in the face of provocation.

  • Uchenna N. Nduka

Restriction of Teachers’ Right to Punish Children: A Panacea for Sexual Abuse of Children by Teachers

Madam Joy woke up that Sunday morning with a rare kind of excitement. It was her daughter’s visiting day. She was hasty with her routine that day because she made a promise to her daughter, Nancy, that she would arrive early for that visiting day. She eventually arrived at Nancy’s school as planned and was among the first set of parents to visit their children.

Unfortunately, her visit took an unexpected turn when she met her daughter. She immediately gave Nancy a curious glance and could not hold back her tears.

“What happened? Who did this to you? What offense did you commit?” Madam Joy asked spontaneously in quick succession.

Nancy held her mum’s hand tightly and wept.

“I have not been able to please them with anything I did since the day I turned down Mr. Joe’s request to visit him at an odd hour in an obscure room in the school.”

Nancy said that she became suspicious of that teachers’ invitation because of the experiences of students who have honoured such invitations. Madam Joe was so disturbed by the development that she immediately reported the case to the school principal, and this excited immediate investigation by the school authority. The outcome of the investigation was quite revealing.

Mr. Joe, a teacher in the school could not have his way with Nancy in his usual habit of inviting female students for sexual escapades. He therefore commenced the application of his usual strategy of coaxing his victims into complying with his evil demand. His strategy was to exaggerate little offenses by such students and severely punish them. Mr. Joe was not alone in this practice. He had a clique of teachers who would also apply the same strategy on their victims in order to achieve the results they desired.

The teachers were able to actualise their evil plan because of the freedom the school gave them to inflict all sorts of punishment on the students in the name of disciplinary measures.

Even though Madam Joy withdrew her child from that school for obvious reasons, the school still commended her effort at exposing such evil and ensuring that it was properly dealt with.

Parenting Lessons

  1. It is obvious from this story that school policy on disciplinary measure is a necessity! Discretionary power to teachers on this issue has yielded nothing but confusion.
  2. In compiling such a policy, it may be necessary to prohibit male teachers from punishing female students because of the spate of violence and abuse against women. It should, however be noted that female students are as exposed as the male students to sexual abuse in school. Accusing fingers have been pointed at all cadres of workers in the school environment including principals, headmasters and proprietors.
  3. It should be noted that a school policy on disciplinary measures should explicitly state The Students’ Grievance Procedure. Perhaps Nancy would have made a formal complaint about her ordeal if this was in place in her school.
  4. The fact that education to protect children from sexual abuse should be given in schools and homes need not be overemphasised. Reference should be made to our seminar guide on the topic. It is in the devotional menu on the Passion in Parenting blog.
  5. Parents are well-positioned to provide help and support to children in their daily challenges if effective parenting skills are applied.

Effective parenting is non-violent, godly, lovely, and peaceful. It produces admirable results and protects the child.

Keep learning it! Keep practising it! Keep sharing it!

 

-Uchenna N. Nduka

School Policy on Disciplinary Measures: A Necessity

This scene has been a recurring
one. My worry is that it would almost always play out the same way.

A parent storms into the office of a headmistress or principal of a school with a child who has been brutalised by a teacher. It would be obvious that the teacher preferred cultural disciplinary approaches to the improved motivational principles and methods of achieving the desired behavioural change in the pupil or student. The ensuing events usually follow the under-listed pattern.

  1. The school head would immediately express regret that the teacher failed to comply with the directive by the school management that such practices are not allowed in the school.
  2. The teacher, if contacted would immediately exaggerate the child’s offence in self-defence.
  3. In some cases, the teacher may be required to apologise to the parents of the child.
  4. Then an apology would be conveyed on behalf of the school management to the parent whose child has been brutalised.
  5. On most of such occasions, the school management would feel obliged to assure the parent that such a thing would not be repeated.
  6. My observation in my environment is that the assurance that the incidence would not recur has, on most occasions, proved to be mere diplomacy.
  7. Parents who understand well the rudiments of education and are also passionate about effective parenting are almost always seen complaining about such issues. Someone shared a story with me recently about how a parent moved her child to another school as a result of her dissatisfaction with a school’s disciplinary approach.

Therefore, I have arrived at the conclusion that the reasons for this endless vicious cycle are essentially two folds. It is either the school management lacks the knowledge and conviction on the proper standards of acceptable disciplinary measures, or they lack the willpower to set up policies and the required managerial structure for teachers’ training and performance monitoring.

My heart bleeds each time I meet a school manager who believes that children should be coerced into obedience through flogging and all sorts of corporal punishment. One can imagine how awful the synergistic output of such a manager and a team of teachers who are already culturally disposed to such inferior approaches would be. No wonder such schools usually engage in all sorts of futile struggles to get their ‘stubborn’ children to be disciplined enough to engage in required educational activities. The exhaustion suffered by teachers in such schools is usually not just from the approved learning activities with students. Most times, a lot of time and energy is spent punishing students. Reliance on this wrong method may reach a point where prefects and other senior students are drafted into the squad to flog and punish other students.

I dare say that schools that operate in the environment described in the preceding paragraph would raise students whose actions are driven by force and threats instead of love, good conscience and sound reasoning. Mediocre professionals and daredevil politicians of our time are glaring examples of the products of such a faulty system. Training and re-training of the entire staff of such a school would be one of the vital solutions to such a confusing atmosphere.

Schools that operate in a legal environment like ours where corporal punishment has not been prohibited in schools should, as matter of urgency, make policy statements on the allowable disciplinary measures. It is wrong for any school to allow teachers the discretionary right to apply all sorts of punishment on students. It is not every teacher that has the right psychological balance to apply this discretion with moderation. It is also wrong for any school to approach this issue by merely appealing to the consciences of the teachers to handle the students with mercy.

School policy on disciplinary measures  should be specific, clearly stated, communicated and properly monitored for due enforcement. It needs not necessarily allow flogging and other corporal punishment at all. Until there is a legislative prohibition, schools that still want to allow a stroke or two should state so in their policy statement on discipline. Teachers should be trained and re-trained to acquire the necessary discipline and skills for full compliance. The training should be such that will equip the school administrators with the knowledge and skill to provide the right atmosphere and discipline stimulants. It should also include the avoidable pollutants to the right atmosphere of discipline. The school management should set up structures to monitor compliance with the policy. New teachers should be properly trained before they are allowed to interact with students.

-Uchenna N. Nduka