‘Parents Should Show More Responsibility In Protecting Children’ — DSP Amadin
Child stealing and kidnapping are just a couple of the by-products of our rapidly eroding values and this hydra-headed dragon seems to be defying solutions. Greed and the lure of quick, easy money seem to be driving a lot of people into this evil act.
According to data from the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the number of children that were reported kidnapped from their parents has risen significantly compared to last year and 2013, with the sale of babies and reported kids put at 61. The statistics show that children between 0-17 years are obviously the most vulnerable to kidnap and subsequent trafficking or other sinister purposes. Male children seem to be more endangered as data show that out of 708 children that have been rescued so far, male kids were 458 in number, compared to 258 female children.
In an interview with the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Patricia Amadin, she advocates that parents and guardians have a great responsibility to their children and need to start taking it more seriously. She laments that a lot of cases are not reported to the police and this makes it more difficult in tracking and solving cases of child stealing.
She goes ahead to list several tips that parents and guardians should take note of when taking care of children.
• Do not leave children alone and unattended in cars while you rush to use the ATM or buy something as several children have been stolen that way. Leaving younger kids in the care of their slightly older siblings is not proper, as children tend to have short attention spans.
• Do not entrust your kids in the care of strangers or acquaintances, as this may prove fatal.
• Warn your children and wards to be very wary of strangers and reject any form of gift, either monetary or otherwise.
• Do not leave your children unattended especially in religious places of worship as several kids have been kidnapped within churches and mosques.
• Citizens should endeavor to report suspicious movements to the police, especially when you note that a particular individual is trying to conceal his/herself.
• When watching television or listening to the radio especially at night, ensure all doors and windows are securely locked, because children tend to wander and your attention would be divided. Children have been snatched this way right from their homes without the parents realising it.
• Ensure you know exactly where your kids are at all times, do not assume. Even if they are playing, make sure they stay within your visibility range as looking away for five seconds have proved costly for many parents.
She goes ahead to stress that Nigerians should learn and teach the police emergency numbers to their children and wards, as this may sometimes be the difference between life and death. Even if they cannot learn the long GSM numbers, they should be able to learn the short code emergency numbers, 767 and 112.
She noted that many children are already very familiar with a lot of modern technology and gadgets, but unbelievably, some children do not know their parent’s full names or home addresses. So, even when some of these kids are questioned, they sadly cannot provide tangible information.
A visit by this reporter to the Juvenile Welfare Centre at Alakara, Idi-Oro in Mushin, confirmed these recent sinister happenings. In a chat with the centre’s head, Mrs. Afusat Alausa, she urged parents, especially mothers, to be extra vigilant as child stealing is increasing at an alarming rate.
According to her, two reports of three missing kids have been brought to her centre in the last two days. The children aged between a year and five years were taken right in front of their house at the Amukoko area of Lagos State while they were playing.
In fact, she adds that in less than two weeks, the centre has been inundated with eight reports of missing children taken from their homes. Four of the kids are less than five years old and the other four were above five years old. Their parents have been searching for them at juvenile centres, hospitals and mortuaries with no luck yet. This according to Alausa is a depressing reality and urges that parents should not wait until they are affected.
She stresses that parents and guardians should show more interest in their children and their activities, especially during this holiday period. She believes that a greater responsibility lies with the mother and though she understands that most mothers work these days or are self-employed, she still believes that they should make time for their children and wards by keeping them gainfully occupied and being aware of their movements, stressing that the children that were taken at Amukoko were all playing while their mother was in her shop and this might have been prevented if the kids were either at a holiday coaching centre or with their mother.
Alausa urges Nigerians to report lost or kidnapped children to the nearest police station and juvenile centres as this action might expedite their return in case the children in question wandered off and become lost or manage to escape if they were kidnapped.