Lagos State government has joined forces with a non-governmental organisation, Grace Spring Rehabilitation Home (GSRH) to initiate a project that seeks to protect and reform children that have dabbled into crime.
The project, Community Rehabilitation Programme (CRP) is established specifically for children that are in conflict with the law, and at a high risk of offending. And it aims to reform and train deviant children to ensure they enjoy a better future and a crime-free lifestyle, the reporter learnt.
Speaking during the awareness drive for the programme, Mrs. Omolara Oluwatoyin, the programme coordinator, said that CRP is an alternative to traditional punishments like corporal punishment, trials, and custodial sentences. She said it is aimed at addressing the root causes of children going into crime by working closely with the child, and the child’s family.
“This project is for children that commit minor offences like stealing, and any other deviant attitude. We seek to rehabilitate the children, and we work closely with their parents or guardians. The project is being funded by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) alongside United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and others.”
Oluwatoyin explained that rehabilitation at CRP, which is being implemented along with the Lagos State’s Ministry of Youth and Social Development (MYSD), is done free of charge. She encouraged residents to take advantage of the drive and bring their deviant children for proper reformation.
“CRP is piloted in four local government areas (LGAs), namely Mushin, Oshodi, Shomolu, and Kosofe, as well as Ilupeju and Bariga Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs). Children attending the programme are provided with informal education, vocational training, and health care as well as legal support for a period of between four and six months. Lagos residents can refer children by going to any local government office near them. The social workers there would assist and refer them to our home,” she said.
While applauding the concept, one of the social workers at the event, Mr. Ebenezer Omejalile of the Advocate for Child and Vulnerable Persons of Nigeria (ACVPN) said CRP would go a long way to curb moral decadence among children.
“It is common to see children going into crime and all forms of addiction. But this programme would once again encourage us social workers, and revive our beliefs that no child is beyond redemption.”
Also speaking, an official of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC ), Wells Gbolahan Bashi, expressed excitement, adding that the CRP would indeed tackle youth criminality.
“In the line of my work as a security officer, I noticed that many youths become hardened criminals because they were not rehabilitated at all. Many parents and security officers that operate in numerous communities, don’t really know how to handle deviant children. But with this programme, our work would be so much easier, because we have now been empowered with the knowledge of this project to join in the fight to nip crime and criminality in the bud,” he said.