A 10-year-old boy, Monday Omoniye, was recently arrested in Edo State over his alleged involvement in criminal activities. He would later confess to having been introduced into robbery by his elder brother. According to him, he has carried out four robbery operations.
He mentioned that he got the weapons during last October’s #EndSARS protests. He said: “It was my brother that taught me how to shoot a pistol. I have killed two people during a robbery operation. Yes, I have gone on two robbery operations with my elder brother.”
Yes, Monday is one of many minors who have become actively involved in armed robbery. There are many children like that and society, more often than not, puts the blame at the doorstep of their parents.
In fact, this was part of the conversation that engaged a monthly family organised by Esther Child Rights Foundation. The event was held at Egbeda, Lagos State recently.
The theme of the seminar tagged, “Who is responsible for the home?” The aim and objective was to educate parents on moral and legal responsibilities towards their children.
The event also xrayed how parents can work as a team to ensure a happier, stable and prosperous nuclear family. Effective parenting has never been as important as it is in today’s family setups.
This notion stems from the fact that effective and proper parenting goes a long way in shaping how the children will behave in the future and affect the persons and society around them.
A child and adolescent neuro-psychiatric doctor, Nwankwo Lawrence, who was one of the guest speakers, explained that a husband and his wife should be responsible for the home. Citing the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, Lawrence said: “When God noticed that Adam needed a companion he created Eve as a helpmate.
Women as helpmates should support their husbands by sharing responsibilities at home.” Lawrence said that a husband’s responsibilities at home were about 70 percent, while the wife is 30.
He also went further to acknowledge that when there is love, trust and understanding in a home, it will be a healthy one. Another speaker, Mrs. Juliana Francis, who is a media consultant and a veteran crime editor, spoke on the topic, “The making of a delinquent child.”
She said: “I have seen children go into crime and get arrested. It is now a worrisome trend. I’m passionate about issues of children going into crime due to unhealthy homes.”
She presented a video clip of children who were involved in crimes, ranging cultism, stealing, killing, smoking and armed robbery.
She pointed out that there were different factors that influenced a child into crime and they include, but not limited, to a child’s foundation, location where the children grew up and peer pressure.
She explained that the foundation was very important because it has to do with parenting. According to her, society blames parents when a child takes to crime because it was the responsibilities of a father and mother to properly monitor and correct the child beginning from when that child was extremely young. She said: “But the reverse is the case now as most parents are too busy trying to make ends meets for their homes.
Even as a career woman, there are many sacrifices to make for marriage, children and work, so that none will suffer. We should create time for the home, especially for our children. Why do most children of pastors go into crime? It’s because some pastors do not make time for their families!
They are busy nurturing their congregation, leaving their homes and children to rot. I have also discovered that 75 percent of those children that are into crime are from broken homes.”
While speaking on the effect of location on a child, she stated that the community, people and their ideologies and how they see life, usually reflects on the behaviour of a child. She urged parents to be mindful of the environment their child grows up. She argued that the greatest factor, which could affect a child, was peer pressure, which is the feeling of the child wanting to be accepted or belonging to a certain group of friends. She noted that peer pressure could be either positive or negative.
She encouraged parents to ask their children questions like: “Who is your friend?” and also “Where did you go? Where are you coming from? Who is your friend and where does he hang out?” “Parents should always talk to their children and punish them when they do something wrong.
But punishing them does not entail beating mercilessly, which can be traumatic. Give the child attention and set boundaries. Be your child’s confidante and cultivate the habit of using the carrot and stick approaches.
This means rewarding them when they do well and punishing them when they err.” Fielding questions from participants, she said that the Lagos State Child Rights Law sees someone at the age of 18 as an adult and could at that age begin to work or fend for himself.
She also stated that it was wrong for some parents to sit idling at home, while forcing their children into working.
Responding to a participant, she said a parent, who sends his 18-year out to work and provide the house, should first ask himself or herself, what level of education or skill acquisition training they had given the child. She stated: “What the parents offer to the child, is what the child will give back in return.”
Francis narrated a story of a 10-yearold boy who was involved in armed robbery. She recounted that the parents knew that the boy works as a conductor and brings home money, but the parents never knew he was also teaming up with his bosses, who were bus drivers, to rob passengers.
The told the participants that forcing children into the labour market was wrong, describing it as child abuse. Another guest speaker, Pastor Patricia Onyekwere of Awesome Grace Global Impact Ministry, said that a husband should be responsible for the home because the name the children bear is the fathers’.
She added: “The home is a sacred place made up of different people; father, mother and the children. The father is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the home. An ideal home is ‘God’s own home.’
The head is the man. He takes the responsibility of things happening in the home.” She further said that there was another home called the ‘conventional home,’ where husbands do not take their responsibility for the home. According to her, in such homes, the wives are left and burdened with the responsibility in the home.
She said that if was allowed to continue, the honour, which God naturally bestows on a husband, could be transferred to the wife. The founder of the Esther Child Rights Foundation, Mrs. Esther Ogwu, said that her foundation started 13 years ago, describing it as, and “a human rights organisation, which fights against child abuse, domestic violence and rape.”
She said that the foundation also fights for the fundamental rights of people and ensuring that people are aware of their rights. Speaking about the seminar, she said: “The family life seminar is all about parenting, which is a big issue.
This is due to happenings, which many parents should be aware of. Parents should know the importance of taking care of their children, upbringing. They should also know the disadvantage of parents separating and how it affects the children.”
Ogwu further stated: “Parents have moral and legal responsibilities toward their child. If they set a bad example for their children, these children will definitely emulate them.
In other words, parents are the primary teachers and should discipline their children. Many parents fail not because they are inadequate, or lack love for their children, but they fail because they procrastinate on things they should do concerning their children.
“Parents should recognise that bringing up well-behaved children requires a thorough comprehension of how their behaviour is connected with their child’s behaviour. Consequently, they should impart moral values such as respect and discipline into the children.”
Ogwu also maintained that all parents have a responsibility when it comes to raising their children, because nobody would do it for them.
“Parents are expected to spend time with their children and are expected to teach their children the behaviours they should embrace.
They should be committed to building a strong relationship with their children and must actively contribute to building their children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Some parents even lack the confidence to face their own children, and hence they are not able to counsel their children on good behaviour.
When parents have a good relationship with their children, they are able to enforce positive values and acceptable standards of good behaviour and ensure that their children embrace these values in their day-to-day lives. Parents should create time for their children in order to establish a close relationship, which can have a long influence on the child’s behaviour,” stated Ogwu.