The spate of insecurity has become alarming. There have been calls for stringency of laws to bring culprits to justice. While security operatives go after the perpetrators and turn over those apprehended to the courts the conditions that breed the culprits or cause youth restlessness and revolt are not getting better but worsening. This spells real danger!
It is alright to combat social ills terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, smoking and drug abuse, piracy and other forms of violence and criminal activities but we need a change of strategy. There is always the feeling of nostalgia when people recall the good old days when there was communal living characterized by a strong sense of community, people looked out for one another, pool resources, shared meals, child care, accommodation and resolve conflicts amicably. There was a sense of belonging and needs were met.
Civilization has robbed us of this cohesion. Many families are struggling with harsh economic conditions which has harsh consequences: unemployment, poverty, serious accommodation problems leading to family tensions and breakdown, social isolation, hopelessness, emotional damage and crime.
Family stress leads to serious disagreements between parents and sometimes violence in the family posing distress for children and long term harm which may be associated with children’s behavioural problems. This may likely have long term consequences on their education, employment and future.
A principle of conflict resolution is to understand the root cause or sources of a problem before determining the conflict strategy to adopt to fix it. It is widely believed that to prevent a problem from occurring is better than searching for a cure and that a problem harbors its solution. That is, the solution to a problem lies within the problem itself.
It is believed that the children’s law, the Child’s Rights Act proffers solutions that will drastically reduce prevalence of social problems. It mandates State Governments to identify disadvantaged children within their areas and assess their needs and provide services appropriate to their needs (including cash where necessary).
The ideals of communal living find expression through the law. It provides for the establishment of family centres in every State of the Federation where needy children and their families can visit for support and assistance to meet their unique individual family needs. The centres can be created by government and voluntary agencies.This serves as a viable means of emotional outlet and promotes a sense of belonging.
It will help meet the needs of at-risk youths and disadvantaged single mothers. It will provide education, empowerment and emotional support to vulnerable children and assistance to their families. Those with one need or the other can walk or call in to trade helplessness hopelessness for hope and care.
We need to discuss a proactive approach to supporting and empowering disadvantaged families to make them strong to protect children. It is not only the children and their families that will benefit, but society as well!
Previously Published in: ACResolution, The Quarterly Magazine of the Association for Conflict Resolution, Spring 2003.“You can not teach anyone anything, you can only help them find it within themselves.”-Galileo The...By Debra Gerardi
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