Josephine Chukwuma, the Executive Director, Project Alert on Violence against Women, an NGO, on Thursday said children should be cautioned against inappropriate behavior directed at them.
Chukwuma told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos an informed girl-child would not be a subject of abuse, whether it was done by family members, friends or strangers.
“We need to empower the girl-child and we even empower her through information; information is knowledge.
“A lot of our children don’t get the right information from the right source at the right time.
“There are a lot of things that come into play when a child is growing up including the environment, culture and, of course, the family.
“With family as the cornerstone, parents can only give their child the information they have. If they don’t have it, they can’t give.
“That’s why programmes in the school and in the community generally can help empower the girl-child to resist violence of any form, especially sexual abuse.
“Let a girl-child from an early age know the difference between a good touch and a bad touch.”
Chukwuma said that parents and guardians should establish a good relationship with the children, so that the children would not be afraid to report any advances made at them.
“We call it age appropriate messaging. There’s a way you talk to a four-year-old child, it’s different from the way you communicate with a 10-year-old and definitely different from the way you communicate with a 14-year-old.
“But at the same time you can get your message across. So it’s not too early to tell a four-year old or the three-year-old, don’t sit on a man’s laps.
“Sit on the chair, seat on a stool, so any uncle comes to your house and says come and sit on my laps, you’re a big girl.
“Uncle, I’m a big girl I can seat on the chair, there is no offence, there’s no insult there.
“From the home, depending on the age, you can let them know what the public areas are and what the private areas are. It’s not too early.
“People will say that you are teaching these children sex. No, you are empowering them to take ownership of their bodies and not allow their bodies to be abused by those who ordinarily should know better.”
Chukwuma noted that many people avoided the issue but failed to take steps to protect their families.
“We are in very horrible times. I don’t know what old men are looking for in the bodies of little girls.
“Without sounding alarmist, we have an epidemic of abuse on our hands and it is only through awareness and vigilance that we can protect our children,” she said.
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