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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Invest in children for a brighter future

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Invest in children for a brighter future

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Children are a defenceless and as such, their very survival, growth and development are indeed the obligation of adults.

If children are to grow up and be better citizens, nurturing them in an atmosphere of healthy growth and development and instilling in them the values of sharing and taking responsibility from the earliest stage of life matters.

In the face of neglect, many children are excluded in society. Exclusion deprives children of their childhood and hinders them from fully developing their capacities to contribute in a substantial way to the economic and social development of their country.

Reports have shown that  serious violations of children’s rights, particularly concerning child labour and forced labour, early marriage or forced marriage ,right to education,

According to the global trade unionists, “child labour is widespread in Sierra Leone this has resulted to low school attendance . Several thousand children were found to be working in diamond mining, mainly boys, in an environment which closely resembles slave labour.” They work long hours and in harsh conditions, engaging in activities like digging, sifting and in family businesses or on family farms
Overall, statistics shows that an overwhelming 71.6 percent of children between the ages of 5-14 years are working, either in paid or unpaid work, according to the ICFTU report ,Child labour was said to be widespread all over Sierra Leone, both in rural and in urban areas, it included the worst forms of child labour such as child prostitution, mining, domestic work and begging. Children are used by their biological parents to fend for the entire family members. Certainly, some children are now potential ˜bread winners for their families.

Issues relating to Domestic Violence like Child marriage, or forced marriage, teenage pregnancy have also been course for concern.

Surveys conducted shows that over 65% of school dropouts are girls, who get pregnated whilst in school. There has been a slow increase in infant and child mortality .The ensuing caution is that if the rising rate of teenage pregnancy is not checked, there will be a drastic loss of lives, brains as well as potentials.

One might be tempted to ask, what is really responsible for the high rate of teenage pregnancy among young girls in Sierra Leone?

In attempting to proffer a suitable answer to that crucial question, one has to take into mind several issues ranging from poverty, peer group pressure, ignorance, materialism and the lack of education. All of these, according to the research work earlier referred to, are the major factors responsible for the high prevalence of teenage pregnancy in the country.

This situation in many cases, tempt young girls to seek alternative means to satisfy their material and otherwise needs, by going out with men who they believe can provide them with their heart desires. Such men without mercy and moral virtues, tamper with these vulnerable young girls sexually, and at the end of the day impregnate them.

In most cases, such pregnancies occur without anyone taking responsibility for them. The immediate effect is a broken heart followed by the need to seek abortion to terminate the pregnancy.

Many young girls from broken or divorced homes also find themselves seeking some form of comfort from outside the home and if the father has abandoned the home or left the mother to care alone for the daughter, the daughter is easier to seek attentive male attention from older males.

The role of such older men in abusing and misusing young girls seeking fatherly comfort they lack at home is also call for concern. Offering young girls items such as flashy mobile phones, fashion dresses, fat ‘lunch monies’, jolly rides in posh jeeps etc, are the easiest means men use to entice them. Teenage girls who are in a stable home can also be lured into early sex and pornographic movies and manuals will heighten their natural curiosity to engage in the acts they see depicted.

Another reason that could be behind the rampant increase in teenage pregnancy is that the high rate of illiteracy and poverty in the country, make most parents prefer to offer their school going daughters for early marriage than see them through their education.

The effects of early and unprotected sex by young girls in Sierra Leone have led to several social mishaps like unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, abortions, untimely deaths and abandonment.

Breaking the cycle of prohibiting by fighting stereotypes and discrimination is necessary if only children are to have a brighter future.

 Children must be allowed to attain their full potential; to live in a society where human rights are respected and where democracy flourishes, and poverty is not a devastating barrier to human progress.

In defending the rights of children, we must ensure the bonds of poverty, violence, disease and discrimination, and structuring a world of hope and change.

The true wealth of any nation is embedded in showing love and care for us children, so as to enable us grow up to be useful citizens, which would take over the mantle of leadership.

In order to see a Sierra Leone, wherein children will always feel proud of being Sierra Leoneans we must help them

We want to grow up into tough, healthy and educated citizens. We would love to see a government that places the interest of children and other vulnerable groups in the centre of its planning.

We want the government to see us as the best resources this country can ever boast of. We are the future, and the very bulwark of the country’s future human resource.

A quality education we long for, One that encourages children’s participation and critical thinking, and is infused with the values of peace and human dignity, with the power to transform societies in a single generation.

The fulfilment of a child’s right to education offers a protection from a multitude of hazards such as a life consigned to poverty, domestic labour and violence, and commercial sexual exploitation etc.

There are fairly a number of dropouts especially in the rural or remote areas of the country.

It is no news to indicate that majority of the children left behind

are girls, who fall victims to the belief in some societies that girls do not need to be educated. They are meant to be wives and mothers.

This primitive societal thinking should change for good. All children, irrespective of sex, should have access to basic education in learning environments that are clean, safe and intellectually stimulating and that build confidence and life skills.

Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate. As we look ahead to our nation’s future, consider the value of children and invest in them for brighter future.

 The survival children should be a matter of concern to all, not just for parents or caregivers, but of national concern if we are to have a brighter future.

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