FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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WHEN ADULTS ARE DELINQUENT…

ncle announced to his children, "You will become who you're meant to be in life whether I do anything or not. God will what he will do!" True to his beliefs, he spent no kobo training those children. Today, none of the six have risen beyond poverty level. In fact, like their father, they are at risk of dying prematurely from poverty-instigated ill health.

Unfortunately, many have similar blasé attitudes towards their offspring. They exercise the biological right to procreate but reject the moral obligation to cater for the fruits of their activities. Their actions, often cloaked in culturally-accepted practices, victimize children and mortgage the nation's future. Such practices include:

Indoctrination: Delinquent parents farm out their children, as young as three years old, to clerics in the name of "teaching them religion." Thus, the children spend their mornings memorizing religious dogma and their afternoons begging on the streets given the beleaguered cleric is unable to feed the multitude of mouths deposited at his door.

Witch-hunting: Those not sent to clerics may be labeled witches and wizards even before they can talk. Ergo, the parents have a small shop which is feeding their family of four. They welcome a new addition to the family and the shop burns to the ground; ipso facto, the new baby is a witch. She is abandoned at the crossroads or taken to religious charlatans to cast the devil out of her. Public abuse of the child commences, and the entire community participates in castigating an innocent child.

Absentee fatherhood: Even in developed countries, single-parent, female-headed households are more likely to fall below the poverty line than dual-parent households. Thus, when a father abandons his responsibilities whether in the guise of having other wives/households or not contributing to household income and resources, the children's welfare suffers.

Human collateral: Girls are more vulnerable to being used to secure a loan, repay a debt, or to assuage a transgression without their knowledge nor consent. Often, a parent may offer his daughter to be anything from maid to wife in repayment of his debts. Likewise, parents who fail to plan for their expanding family, send their sons and daughters to serve in the households of wealthier family members, neighbors, and even total strangers in cities. In such households, these children are vulnerable to emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Quickly, their futures are jettisoned by draconian madams and ravenous ogas. While we don't have figures on the multitudes of children who perish in the underground economy that is domestic service, majority of these children are abused.

Girl brides: Girls as young as five years old are given in marriage to doddering old men who then rape and impregnate them way before their bodies are ready for such biological functions. Some die in childbirth, others are torn irreparably and suffer fistula for the rest of their lives while religious clerics and the community looks on.

Brigands: Due to an absence of parental care, boys are often left to fend for themselves. Thus, a boy grows up begging for his food, outgrows the small change handed to him by motorists stuck in traffic to start snatching purses and jewelry. As he grows older, he graduates into brigandry, armed robbery, kidnapping, and terrorism.

Prostitution: Young ladies whose families have fallen on hard times or simply have more mouths to feed are given in marriage to anyone wealthy enough to offer the family a robust dowry. And where moneybags doesn't come forward, the young ladies are sent to large cities or abroad to prostitute themselves 'for the good of the family.' The girl child of a delinquent is simply cash in hand.

When adults are delinquent, children get victimized. Nation-building requires strong children - emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially. When we prey on children, we mortgage our future. Nigeria deserves better. Parent responsibly.


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