In the last couple of months at least five(5) children died due to alleged negligence/abuse of Private Schools across Nigeria. In Oyo State there has been cases of alleged child neglect/abuse recorded within the Private and Public School system over the years. The question remains, what is Oyo State doing to eliminate this menace? It was reported that teachers were suspended in Ogbomoso for alleged sexual harassment, I ask, who monitors the investigation process? Teachers and other individuals convicted of this heinous crime; how do we monitor them to ensure they do not reoffend? In the last few years, there has been two other well published cases in Ibadan. In both cases male teachers in private primary schools allegedly sexually assaulted children under the age of twelve(12). Both teachers were arrested.
How do we track them after their release to ensure they can never reoffend?
Where are they now?
What support did we put in place for these children to help with the traumatic experience?
How do we monitor that their adverse childhood experiences do not affect their future?
Did we check for other victims in these schools, or in the immediate communities?
These and many more questions need to be answered for the sake of the children and for the sake of our collective future.
Oyo State launched a toll-free number for students to report sexual abuse a while ago, this is a good idea, but unfortunately, this action is ‘like a drop the ocean’. Most reports will be made after the crime has been committed.
What is the State doing to prevent abuse, maltreatment, and neglect?
The State government must act decisively on this issue, this is an issue that can significantly affect the children in Oyo state emotionally, cognitively, psychologically, socially, and mentally for the rest of their lives. This is not a political issue; it is a social and moral issue. PREVENTION IS KEY.
Karen-Happuch Akpagher (14 years old) died in June 2021 in Abuja, Hanifa Abubakar (5 years old) died in December 2021 in Kano State, Sylvester Oromoni (12 years old) died in November 2021 in Lagos State and Bright Chidalu Onyekwuluje (11years old) died in December 2021 in Anambra State and most recently Whitney Adeniran who died at her school inter-house sport events in March 2023 in Lagos. These 5 children were all pupils of private schools across the country. There is also the case of the 19-month-old that was allegedly physically assaulted in a Private Primary School in Edo State. This must not happen in Oyo State, I say boldly – NOT IN MY STATE.
These deaths are avoidable if child protection and safeguarding is taken seriously.
Should till a parent in Oyo State lose a child before we act?
God forbid a situation where the government must send a delegation to pay a condolence visit to a parent in the State over a death that could have been avoided. The time to act is now.
The government must act now, children are dying all over the country due to abuse, maltreatment, and neglect in schools and in the community, and it must stop now. Oyo State can make sure it does not happen here.
An assessment of Chapter 12 of Omituntun Roadmap to sustainable development was titled Women and Child-right, but emphasis were more on what the government achieved and intend to do more with respect to empowerment of our mothers and women folk s than prioritizing the children. The scope of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) which focuses on reducing the number of out-of-school children should be expanded to accommodate safeguarding and child-protection services going forward.
Oyo State is the Pacesetter, so let us set the standard. We say NO to Abuse, Maltreatment, and Neglect.
Abuse, maltreatment, and neglect during childhood leads to lack of trust, lack of empathy and rebellion in adulthood.