3 Most Destructive Doctrines against the Humanity of the Child, You Must NEVER Embrace
3 Most Destructive Doctrines against the Humanity of the Child, You Must NEVER Embrace
Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ Akinlami
I have continued to burden myself with thoughts about the future and hope of the African Child. The more I think, the more I see huge hope for the future. Yet when I consider the enormity of the challenges confronting the African child, the ignorance and hypocrisy of the primary and secondary caregivers, the huge hope I see seems to be nothing but blind optimism, borne out of my burning desire for a better life for the African child. Yet, I know that there is not hopeless situation anywhere, only hopeless people, according to Claire Boothe.
Having been between the two worlds of thoughts in my mind, I find the thought of huge hope gaining more grounds than that of despondency. And I have come to the irresistible conclusion that hope conceived and concealed is hope deferred, but hope shared, gradually develops a life of its own and finds wings to soar beyond the taming machinations of the enemies and erecting an impregnable fortress of succor for the African child and all he/she represents. Silence in the face of moral crisis is very powerful. It is only that such power is never on the side of the oppressed but the oppressor. I am therefore here today, in hope against hope to plead a cause, I live to plead, the noble cause of the Nigerian child. I desire that you catch the fire as you read and you do not only catch the fire, you become a torch, which passes on the beam of hope.
I found this title apt today to discuss one major issue as it relates to the African child. It is the impact of child abuse on the internal setting of the child and lack of social support services for the African child in his own countries. Who is an internally displaced person? An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country’s borders. Many factors may be responsible for people being internally displaced, ranging from civil war, terrorist attacks, natural disasters etc. Though these persons are within the four walls of their nations, they are displaced and dislocated. They live as refugees in their own country. In fact they bear same characteristics as refugees.
Today I find a parallel between Internally Displaced People and their many sufferings and the suffering of children, who live within their own homes but yet suffer untold abuses. They live like strangers (refugees) in their own homes. They suffer from what I call siege mentality. According to D. J. Christie in The Encyclopedia of peace Psychology, ‘siege mentality is a shared feeling of victimization and defensiveness – a term derived from the actual experience of military defences of real sieges. It is a collective state of mind whereby one believes that one is being constantly attacked, oppressed, or isolated in the face of the negative intentions of the rest of the world.’ Children, who suffer from siege mentality, are though at home in the midst of their family members, who are supposed to be friends, yet their small minds have been so warred and conditioned that they believe with their conscious and sub-conscious that they are in the midst of enemies. The number one symptom of siege mentality is fear. From fear, paranoia sets in and puts the child on the edge. He/she seeks nothing but the day of emancipation at this point.
I also find another sad but interesting parallel, an abused child is Internally Displaced, that is, his/her mind and internal workings are damaged. His/her psyche is badly wounded. He/she is at his/her best a shadow of his/her true potentials invested by God before the foundation of the world. I submit that abuse changes everything about the child. It dehumanizes, it subjugates, and it destroys the whole essence of a person’s existence, having forcefully taken away the person’s dignity of human person.
To be Internally Displaced is to suffer abuses in the places that are supposed to be the safest for you, your home. It is also for those who are supposed to be your caregiver to strip you of all the internal fiber of dignity installed into you by your Creator.
There are three major crimes we commit against the child and render him/her permanently, except for divine intervention, Internally Displaced:
- The Doctrine of Silent Treatment: the doctrine of silent treatment says, I keep quiet when a child is in danger of abuse or is being abused because I do not want to rock the boat. The boat of the dignity of human person of the child can be rocked on the platter of this cruel doctrine of silent treatment. I have said again and again that when a child is abused, there are three culprits, namely, first, the primary and secondary caregivers, who have a duty of care to protection the child. Their negligent in most cases provides cheap loopholes for the author of child abuse. Needless to say that there are many sad cases, where the primary and secondary caregivers are the abusers. The second culprit is the abuser, who capitalizes on the loopholes of the primary and secondary caregivers to launch an attack on the child. He is always looking for the loopholes to capitalize on. In fact he/she is a master at not only identifying opportunities to prey but to also create such opportunities. The third culprit is the doctrine of silence practitioner, who is aware that a child is being abused but keeps quiet for different reasons, which will never make sense to the destiny of the child.
The third is the worst of all. The third is the engine room of abuse. The third is the reason for the seeming invincibility of the abusers. I have seen situation, where a father is sexually molesting the daughter for many years and the mother keeps quiet; I have seen a situation where a child is sexually abused by another teenage child and the mother choose to keep quiet in the name of stigmatization; I have seen a case where a four year old complains to the mother that she is being sexually molested by the teenage child of their neighbour she is kept with when the mother is not around, the mother never confronted the situation and she still continues to keep the child with the reported abuser.
- The Doctrine of Tyranny: this doctrine says children do not have any contribution to make and they must not be allowed to air their views on any matter, simply because they are children. The practitioners of this doctrine erroneously believe that adulthood is synonymous with the possession of exclusive views of life. The child’s view is not sought at all. When the child attempts to make a contribution, he/she is silenced shabbily and rudely too. He’s accused of being nosy. Gradually, the child is robbed of his/her priceless curiosity. He/she has no faith in his/her own views. His/her self-esteem and self-confidence is attacked. The unsuspecting caregiver finds all kinds of names to describe the products of their errors; they say the child is an introvert; the child is the quiet type. In actual fact the child is not quiet, he/she is subdued. He/she does not know the characteristics of an introvert; he/she knows the characteristics of a defeated mind, he/she being the eloquent example.
- The Doctrine of Labeling: this doctrine says, determine the potential of a child by what you perceive as his/her does wrong, even when your perception is not based on any fact of child development and label him/her according to that myopic perception. All forms of labeling are a crime against the humanity of the child. We brand children according to all kinds of labels, which have no justification in the informed dictionary of child development.
A lady registers her five year old child in a primary school. She asks for the opinion of the teacher about the child after one week in the school. The teacher says, well, she is very brilliant child, but she talks too much. I begin to wonder what it means for a child to talk too much. I know that this is general labeling by primary and secondary caregivers. They say a child talks too much, when in actual fact such labeling is a symptom of unprofessionalism. A child does not talk too much. A child simply talks. It is the responsibility of the caregivers to help the child regulate his/her talk. If a child talks during the class, for example and the teacher becomes frustrated, it simply means, the teacher does not have control over his/her class. There are steps; he/she must be able to take to maintain order in his/her classroom, where order is necessary, according to the age and state of development of the children under his/her care. The practitioners of the doctrine of labeling are always in the habit of labeling according to their ignorance. This has eternal impact on the child’s mind. The child is either trying to proof the label wrong or trying to conform to the label. Either is very devastating
I charge you today to reduce the number of Internally Displaced Persons in our continent and make a conscious effort not to find yourself as a practitioner of the doctrines we have identified here as the authors of Internally Displaced Children/Persons.
Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ Akinlami is the pioneering Principal of Taiwo Akinlami INSPIRES, an organization, which strengthens institutions, protects the child and builds the African continent. He is Nigeria and arguably Africa’s foremost Child Protection THINKER and PRACTITIONER with 18(eighteen) years of practising and vast experiences. He is the founder and principal of Taiwo Akinlami Child Protection Academy, Africa’s pioneer Child Protection academy, author of 5 handbooks, 22 Audio Programs and 4 e-books. Akinlami is consultant to UNICEF on Child Protection, Secretary-General, Child Protection Network (Lagos State), Independent Legal and Social Regulatory Expert on Child’s Rights and Responsibilities Issues, Legal Enlightenment & Development Enthusiast and an accredited facilitator of the British Council School Leadership Program.