‘Parents Must Adequately Police Their Children’
THE increasing spate of child kidnapping in Nigeria has become worrisome. Although, the mission of the perpetrators of this menace is not clear — whether for ritual, ransom, trafficking or forceful adoption purposes — what is clear is that it is a phenomenon that the country must tackle head-on. As a result, Nigerians are calling for improved surveillance by security agents, parents and concerned stakeholders over the Nigerian child.
A sociologist, who spoke on the issue on condition of anonymity, noted that to curb the crime, Nigerians must be conscious of their environment.
He said: “From what I have read about the disappearance of people and widespread news of ritual killings, my advice is that people should be conscious of their environment. People must always leave notice of their whereabouts; they must be careful when boarding public buses. Parents must ensure that they monitor their children — be sure of who takes them to and from school, who they play with in the compound, in the church and other places. As much as possible, people must avoid night journeys and outings.”
A tradomedical doctor in Oshodi area of Lagos, Rashid Akande, also told The Guardian that lack of parental care is behind the plethora of missing kids in the country. Akande, whose grandchildren of between one and two years old were playing in his office when The Guardian visited said he babysits the kids when their parents are at work to ensure their safety.
“Their parents are rest assured that the kids are in safe hands when they are at work. Even when I am not available, my wife sells right in front of my office and takes charge of the kids. The youth of these days just give birth to kids and don’t care about these children. But every parent has the sole responsibility to keep watch on his/her children to curb the menace of stolen children. The people that steal these kids are people that know a lot about them including their names, the school they attend and even their guardian’s daily routine; they must have a kept close watch on the children or the child before carrying out the act,” he said.
On what government can do to curb the ugly trend, Akande said the law enforcement agents must make sure that any ‘child thief’ caught must face the full wrath of the law.
Also contribution to the discourse, a newspaper vendor who simply identified herself as Mrs. Eucharia, suggested ways parents can ward off kidnappers from their children. She said: “When we go to church with our children, we should always keep them close to ourselves. We should not allow them stray except the children are grown up to care of themselves but the little ones should be close to their parents in any gathering. On the other hand, we need tight security in our churches and schools. Government can send security officers to public schools and private schools to safeguard them against kidnappers.”
Speaking in the same vein, a trader, Mrs. Chinelo Eze, who also urged security agents in the country to up their game to bring the menace to an end, urged parents to be prayerful and vigilant saying: “The criminals even tend to act when people are around by using jazz and wisdom to tame the victims because they are experts in the crime. They lack the word of God because our religious centres don’t preach the fear of God again; what they preach now is prosperity, blessings and progress. So, if we can preach the word of salvation more in the society we can curb the evil act of child theft,” she said.
For Mrs. Blessing Nwachukwu, “our kids should be handled by our relatives when we are not there because one can trust ones immediate family. Even if they are in school, the teachers should secure the children from strangers that claim that they are their relations.”
Mrs. Blessing Chosen, on her own part, urged parents, especially mothers, to take care of their children always. “They should make sure that the schools the children attended are secured very well. Parents should also appoint someone to take their kids after school, and even in churches, the children should be handled with care by the Sunday School teachers to prevent them safe from loitering around,” she noted.
A father of four, Udochukwu Itochukwu, who opined that children are kidnapped “basically for trafficking”, charged parents to monitor their kids closely because they are their future. He also urged government to stop street hawking by children, noting that child hawkers risk being kidnapped.