With the increasing rate of child sexual abuse in recent times, it is comforting to know that appropriate steps are being taken by the authorities to reduce this menace to children in the society.
The Lagos State Government has commenced implementation of the Executive Order ratified by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on December 16, 2016 which established the Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.
The Executive Order highlights the importance and priority which the State Government placed towards protecting the lives of children and it applies to all State Government organisations, all schools, child centered institutions, orphanages and child related institutions located in the State, both public and private.
Speaking during the annual general meeting and intervention programme put together by the Office of Education Quality Assurance which was attended by over 1,000 participants, Coordinator of Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), an agency under the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi said the State Government was determined to implement the Executive Order to ensure the protection of children.
She said the need for the landmark engagement was crucial considering the fact that schools have resumed and there was need for key stakeholders such as principals, school administrators, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), public and private school guidance counsellors, evaluators and others, to become conversant with and abreast of the provisions of the policy.
According to Vivour-Adeniyi, “The Lagos State Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy must be used wherever services are provided for children and care givers are mandated to adopt a Child Protection policy in their respective institutions, nuanced to suit their respective peculiarities.
“The major aim of the policy is to provide clear direction for reporting disclosures of abuse and commitment to the development of good practice and sound procedures to keep children safe.
“The policy also ensures that child protection concerns are identified, referrals are handled sensitively, professionally and in ways that support the needs of the child’s wellbeing.”
The DSVRT Coordinator also used the medium to sound a very clear warning to all Child centered institutions both public and private, that the State Government would no longer tolerate negligence in ensuring the safety of children under their supervision and failure to adopt and implement the policy would amount to both civil and criminal actions.
Besides, copies of the policy in the form of booklets were distributed to all participants, while the participants were also informed of their mandatory duty to report actual or suspected child abuse cases, and consequences for failure to report.