A cross section of Abuja residents on Sunday called on government at all levels and concerned stakeholders to protect the rights of children in Nigeria.
The residents spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the need to stop child abuse.
They reiterated the need to reduce the rate of children roaming the streets in the country.
Mr Samuel Onime, a lecturer at City Polytechnic, said that poverty had become one of the major reasons so many parents gave their children to people to take care.
Onime said parents gave out their children to be taken care of because of laziness and poverty.
“The absence of birth control makes some people to give birth everytime as if their lives depended on it. When you ask them how they intend to take care of the children, they come up with the saying that God will provide,” he said.
Onime added that some of those given out were treated like slaves, thereby subjecting them to various maltreatment such as hawking, poor education, malnutrition, unnecessary beating at any slightest provocation.
Onime advised parents to embrace family planning to help reduce birth rate in the country.
Dr David Oamen, a teacher, said that some parents gave their children out to people to earn money to support the family, as well as shift the responsibility of feeding, housing and clothing to someone else.
Oamen added that in a situation where a family finds it difficult to afford three square meals and other basic necessities, such family had no choice than giving out their child.
Oamen stated that illiteracy was another reason for the menace because many of them were ignorant of the risks involved.
“I will never give out any of my children to relative as a house help regardless of the circumstances around me” he said.
Oamen therefore urged parents to take up parental responsibilities with seriousness other than shying away from their responsibilities.
Mrs Kate Uwabueze, a house wife, said laziness was a reason parents gave their children out to strangers or wealthy relatives who they thought would help train them and also meet the needs of the family.
According to Uwabueze, children who are used as care givers suffer a lot ranging from domestic violence, hawking, poor hygiene and sometimes death due to lack of medical care and maintenance .
” A lot of children are roaming on the streets. I came in contact with a boy of 12 years, hawking orange during the course of our interactions.
”I asked him why he wasn’t in school, he opened up to me that he hawked for his aunty who couldn’t afford to pay his fees.”
Uwabueze opined that 95 per cent of these children were not well taken care of by their guardians as they were considered to be domestic servants.
Miss Ogwu Ugochukwu, a civil servant, stated that giving a child out as a house help or care giver was considered as child abuse.
According to her, some parents give birth to children they can’t take care, adding that some house helps are brutally treated.
”Some of these children face all sorts of physical, sexual and mental abuse from their guardians.
Ugochukwu appealed that medical personnel should ensure that family planning was made accessable to everyone, including those in the rural areas to help control child birth.
Mr Mark Asekhemhe, a student, said giving a child out to a relative as a care giver shouldn’t be seen as child abuse, adding that it could only become an abuse once the child was denied of his or her rights.
Asekhemhe added that some parents wanted their children to be educated, but were not financially stable as they resorted to other means by giving their children to wealthy relatives who they thought would help educate them.
He added that unfortunately, some of the children given to strangers ended up on the street, hawking for their guardians whereas their parents thought they were in school.
” Many children who serve as care givers or house help are maltreated. Parents need to put all these into consideration before giving birth. If you cannot cater for a child, don’t even try giving birth. Giving birth is not compulsory,” he said.
Asekhemhe also suggested that the human right commission should put in more efforts to investigate children seen on the streets hawking during school hours.
Asekhemhe called on the Federal Government and Non Governmental organizations (NGOs) to sensitize those living in the rural areas to the dangers of child abuse and birth control.