“Someone must be hurt, if it ever becomes necessary to bear pains, weather strong wind, or withstand trials or opposition, let it be adults not children...My father is dead, but his arrows are yet soaring in the wind…” These were the words of Bishop T.D Jakes on the issue of child abuse.
As we mark the World Day Against Child Labour today, I called to remembrance the various sad stories of child abuse in Nigeria as well as other part of the world. According to UNICEF, six out of ten children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18, with half experiencing physical violence.
The World Day Against Child Labour is an International Labour Organization (ILO) sanctioned holiday first launched in 2002 aiming to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour. It was spurred by ratifications of ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour. The World Day Against Child Labour, which is held every year on June 12, is intended to foster the worldwide movement against child labour in any of its forms.
King David, in his Psalms compared children to arrows. He said, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.” Psalm 127: 4. Children are living epistles that should stand as evidence to the future that the past made some level of contribution. There are many children of great potentials whose destinies have been compromised and their lives cut short by reasons of abuse and assaults from foolish parents, wicked guardians or senseless individuals.
Although, child abuse is a punishable crime in Nigeria, yet the rate of abuse and sexual assaults has not ceased to be on the increase. Child sexual abuse in Nigeria is an offence under several sections of chapter 21 of the country’s criminal code. The age of consent is 18.. One of the traditional means of socialization of children is through trading. However, the introduction of young girls into street trading increases the vulnerabilities of the girls to sexual harassment. Sexual abuse of young girls in Nigeria is linked child labour.
To further explain how children are arrows, Bishop T.D Jakes noted , “Whatever happens, happens. I can accept the fate before me. I was my Father’s arrow and my mother’s heart. My father is dead, but his arrows are yet soaring in the wind. You will never know him; he is gone. However, my brother, my sister, and I are flying, soaring, scientific proof that he was, and through us, continues to be .
So don’t worry about me, I am an arrow shot. If I don’t succeed, I have had the greatest riches known to man. I have had opportunity to test the limits of my destiny. Whether preferred or rejected, let the record show: I am here. Oh, God, let me hit my target! But if I miss and plummet on the ground, then at least I can say, “I have been shot!””
“It is for arrows of this generation that we must pray – they who are being aimed at the streets and drugs and perversion. It is not all of them, but some of them have been broken in the quiver! I write to every empty-eyed child I have ever seen sit at my desk with trembling lips struggling to tell the unmentionable secret. To the trembling voice of every caller who spoke into a telephone a secret they could not keep and could not tell, I write.
I write to every husband who holds a woman every night, a child lost in space, a rosebud crushed before you met her, a broken arrow shaking in the quiver. To those ladies who hides behind the silk dresses and leather purses a terrible secret that make-up cant seem to cover and log showers will not wash. Some people call them abused children. Some call them victimized. Some call them statistics. I call them broken arrows.”
Records have shown that about eight million children of school age are out of school in Nigeria. For the sake of the intrinsic potential that lies in the heart of every child, their fundamental rights must be protected and upheld in every society. As arrows, children go where their parent aim them. Therefore, parents, as well as governments, and individual must be responsible enough to place their children in the kind of bow that will accelerate their success and emotional well-being.
To every child, or adult who have been abandoned, or abused or currently being assaulted, be strong and take solace in the fact that God will always fight for the cause of innocent and helpless children. He withdraws His favour from those who oppress and maltreat others. He fights for the fatherless. Therefore, run to God and put you trust in Him always. Look up, He will come and save you. You are winning! Yes, we are winning!