Agency launches initiative to combat child abuse in Lagos

THE Lagos State Government has moved to address the high level of child abuse in the state by launching a child-friendly booklet called ‘My Passport of Rights’.

The unveiling ceremony, organised by the state’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA), took place on Wednesday, May 24.

The event, held at Lagos City Model College in Sabo, Yaba, attracted over 300 students from various schools in Education District IV.

The Executive Secretary of DSVA, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, explained that the purpose of the booklet was to raise awareness about the widespread occurrence of child abuse in the state while offering valuable information and resources for survivors.

Vivour-Adeniyi stressed the urgent need for intervention strategies that facilitate early detection, care and support for victims.

She highlighted the booklet’s role in encouraging children to speak up when confronted with any form of child abuse.

By familiarising themselves with the signs of abuse, she said children would be better equipped to report incidents promptly, ensuring that appropriate action can be taken.

”Over the years, we have recorded a steady increase in child abuse and related issues. So, this book is an intervention strategy for early detection, care and support,” she said.

”The passport encourages you to speak up in case you are faced with any form of child abuse. It will help you to detect the signs of child abuse, so that you are able to report and that action can be taken on time.”

Vivour-Adeniyi encouraged anyone concerned about the welfare of children and desiring to make a positive impact in their lives to acquire and study the booklet, noting that it aims to inspire actionable steps towards safeguarding children.

She further noted that the booklet is exclusively available through the agency and strictly prohibited from being sold.

She urged parents and guardians to obtain copies of the booklet and carefully consider the valuable information it provides.

The School Counsellor of Education District IV, Taiwo Salako, commended the initiative.

She said that the booklet has the potential to address the pressing issues of domestic and sexual violence perpetrated against children in the state.

The Principal of Lagos City Model College in Sabo, Abiodun Hassan, expressed his appreciation for the state government’s initiative.

He acknowledged that the booklet would safeguard and protect children, thereby helping to mitigate the occurrence of child abuse.

Despite its strict laws, there have been rising cases of domestic violence, especially against children in Lagos in recent times.

According to the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, Lagos recorded a minimum of 4,860 cases of domestic violence between September 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022.

These cases encompassed various forms of violence, including those directed against children.

Specifically, during that period, 113 children were subjected to physical abuse and assault, while 194 others suffered defilement.

Additionally, there were 15 incidents of defilement and molestation involving minors, 105 cases of child labor, abduction and neglect, and 145 instances of sexual harassment and molestation.

Onigbanjo highlighted that among the reported cases, 1,578 children experienced emotional abuse.

To support the affected children, 55 per cent of them underwent counseling programs aimed at equipping them with the necessary psychological tools to cope with their traumatic experiences and prevent long-lasting negative impacts on their well-being.

He noted that initiatives were designed to provide them with support and aid in their recovery process.

    “We have also witnessed an increase in reporting of cases from other states; mostly from Ogun, Abia, Anambra and others respectively. In the past 11 months, a total of 394 cases occurred outside Lagos. Such cases are promptly referred to the relevant agencies in their respective States.

    “The Office of the Public Defender as well as the Lagos Public Interest Law Partnership (LPILP) has provided free legal representation to 110 survivors of Domestic Violence, ranging from Judicial Separation, Divorce, Maintenance, Custody of children and Settlement.

    “All the survivors of sexual assault received medical attention from Comprehensive Primary Health Care Centres, General Hospitals and Sexual Assault Referral Centres like Mirabel Centre, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) as well as Idera Centre,” he had said.

    He further revealed that the youngest child that experienced sexual violence in the year under review was eight months old.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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