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Need To Take Care Of Children Worldwide

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At the end of last year, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a new report, ‘Preventing A Lost Decade: Urgent Action’ to reverse the devastating impact of COVID- 19 on children and young people. While it is easy for reports released in December to get lost in the end of the year rush, this report needs everyone’s attention. UNICEF called COVID-19 the greatest challenge to children in its 75-year history; and the situation is exacerbated by conflict, disaster, and climate change.
The facts tell a sobering story about the impact of the pandemic on children.
In less than two years, 100 million more children have fallen into poverty, a 10 percent, increase since 2019.
In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines.
50 million children suffer from wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, and this could increase by 9 million by 2022
At its peak in March 2020, 1.6 billion children were facing school closure.
Behind every one of these numbers are real stories: young children were left behind as preschool closed and food lines grew. School age children, particularly those with the most to gain, had limited access to remote learning. Teens suffered from social isolation and lack of mental health supports, and growing demands for early marriage. Parents tried their best to keep it all going; yet too often without the financial and social resources they needed. And the unpredictability of everyday life brought stress that seemed almost impossible to bear.
Fortunately, many communities around the world rallied: volunteers delivered food, distributed protective equipment and set up new hygiene facilities, and teachers worked to connect children with resources at home. We were all inspired by stories of people working for change, from health care workers to childcare providers, from youth to seniors.
Yet the challenges facing children were alarming even before COVID-19 became a household word. Approximately, one billion children, nearly half of the world’s children live in countries that are at an “extremely high risk” from the impacts of climate change and more and more children are forcibly displaced, all too often from conflict that could have been and should have been avoided.
Clearly, those in positions of power need to make investing in children, families, and communities a priority this year and in the years ahead. This is particularly true for U.S Foreign Assistance. Building on earlier work, in June of 2019, the U.S. launched Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A United States Government Strategy for International Assistance (2019-23). This important document outlines a strategy for investing in the world’s most vulnerable children. In 2020 Congress passed the Global Child Thrive Act, providing additional direction for U.S. Government to invest in early childhood development. These are both important steps; now we all have to assure that they receive the attention and resources that this movement deserves.
The UNICEF report outlines an urgent agenda for action for children, including recommendations to invest in social protection, health, and education as well as building resilience to better prevent, respond to and protect children. Government, business and civil society and the public need to work together. But as in any crises, each individual action makes a difference. We can not wait for someone else to step forward with a solution. Each of us must ask: What can I do to help a neighbour, work in my community, build awareness, provide another voice, help empower others? What else can we do to integrate these issues into every field of study: from health to education, from diplomacy to economic development, from environmental studies to urban planning and design?
In their powerful new book, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson, addressed an important question-How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? What is so uplifting about this story is that it draws a clear link between hope and action. It seems to be telling us that, while important, it is not the resilience of nature or the human intellect alone that matter, but also our spirit and belief in the possibilities and the power to take action. I can’t think of a better year to start.
Lombardi is an international expert on early childhood development and Senior Fellow at the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues, Georgetown University.

By: Joan Lombardi

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COVID-19 In Babies And Children: Symptoms, Prevention

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With the re-occurring traits of COVID – 19 in Nigeria, it is important that parents and gurdians take extra care of their children.  Reports from Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has it that,as from 16th to18th July, 2022, 478 new cases were confirmed and two deaths recorded.
A paediatrician and infectious disease expert, Dr Aaron Milstone at the Johns Hopkins Children Centre, has advised that it is important for parents and children to take every possible safety precautions and understand all risks and symptoms related to COVID – 19.
Dr Milstone talked about COVID – 19 symptoms in children, how to keep babies and children safe,the risk infected children may lose to others and an overview of Multi system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children  (MIS – C), an unknown but serious condition that may be related to the exposure of the virus.
He added that coronavirus variants, including the very contagious omicron variant has continued to spread, particularly in areas with low rates of community COVID – 19 vaccination among populations such as children under 5, who cannot yet be vaccinated.
According to him, “For children too young to be vaccinated, and adults who have not received Coronavirus vaccines,it is important to follow proven COVID -19 precautions such as mask wearing when in public,indoor places to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus. “Indoor activities are riskier than outdoor activities, but risk can be reduced by masking, distancing, hand washing and improved ventilation. Parents and caregivers should understand that children infected with the coronavirus can develop complications requiring hospitalisation and can transmit the virus to others,” Milstone said.
He noted that, in rare cases,children infected with the coronavirus  can develop a serious lung infection and become sick with COVID – 19 and deaths have occurred. That is why it is important to take precautions and prevent infection in children as well as adults.
“According to U. S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), it appears that women infected with coronavirus can in rare cases pass the disease to their babies. Adding that, infants can also become infected shortly after being born,and most newsborns who test positive for the coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all and recover, but serious cases have occured.
Pregnant women should take extra precautions,including talking to their doctors about getting a COVID – 19 vaccine to avoid the coronavirus.
Milstone also noted that,there is no evidence that the virus causing COVID – 19 is present in breastmilk but because there is a possibility of spreading COVID – 19 during breastfeeding through respiratory droplets,it is very important for pregnant women to follow safety guidelines.
“Generally, COVID – 19 symptoms in children and babies are milder than those in adults and some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all; the symptoms include cough,shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, muscle or body aches,sore throat, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or running nose . Fever and cough are common COVID – 19 symptoms in both adults and children, shortness of breath is more likely to be seen in adults . However, serious illness in children with COVID -19 is possible and parents should stay alert if their child is diagnosed with or shows signs of the disease”, Milstone said.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Pornography And Children’s Health: Time For Action

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One social vice bedevilling children and adolescents in the world currently is the issue of addiction to pornography. It has assumed a frightening dimension as the recent upsurge in rape and other sexual assault cases are remotely linked to the unlimited access to pornographic materials to impressionable minds.
Pornography is the representation of sexual behaviour in books, pictures, status, films and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement.
Exposure to pornography harms children and youth by normalising sexual violence and creating unrealistic behaviours.
Consequently, child pornography is on the increase globally and this is a real problem. It is a ‘big deal’ and has significant consequences on the future of children.This problem has increased because of the use of the internet and smart phones.
According to statistics, in 2008, the internet marketing firm, Hitwise, reported that globally, 40,634 web sites distributed pornographic materials. A report according to PornHub in 2020, the word “teen” topped the pornography mega site’s search terms for over six years running, making child pornography one of the fastest growing online businesses with over 55 percent of victims just 10 years old or younger.
In 2010,survey of English students between 14 and 16 years old, almost one third claimed that their first exposure to internet pornography was at 10 years. In a 2011 survey, 31 percent of adolescent boys admitted visiting websites that are intended as Adults only.
In 2012, Australian study of pornography users found out that the first exposure of children was between the ages of 11 to 13 years old. Also, in 2017, Australian Institute of Family Studies in a research by Antonia Quasars and Alissar El- Murr, revealed that nearly half of children  between the ages of 9 to 16 experience regular exposure to sexual images. Moreso, young males are more likely than females to deliberately seek out pornography and they do so frequently.
In Nigeria, internet pornography has continued to grow.Nigeria is a signatory to several international and legal instruments in the involvement of children in pornography. Nigeria has no national laws prohibiting pornography,but, the Cybercrime (Prohibiting Prevention) Act in 2015 only bans child pornography.
Currently, Nigeria has the highest number of internet pornography viewers of any country in Africa.According to reports, Nigerian youths secretly watch pornography and have become addicted largely unknowingly.  Available  statistics show that among Nigerian children, primary consumers of pornography are boys between the ages of 12 and 17 which might be due to the children’s reliance on pornography as primary source of sex education.
According to a counsellor, Justina Amalokwu, “for decades, Nigerian parents have become reluctant to talk about sex with their children . Maybe they are religious or uncomfortable about the topic . This reluctance has pushed many children to turn to the internet for lectures and demonstration on sex. When they go online, they easily get to porn sites”.
Recently, the United Nations International  Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) in a statement, stated that it was alarmed by the massive quantity of pornography available online, including graphic and extreme content that is easily accessible to children of all ages. It also stated that efforts to regulate content and restrict children’s access to pornography have not kept pace with technological shifts.
UNICEF however, supports the efforts of government round the world to ensure that children and young people are protected from harmful content in accordance with the convention on the rights of the child and the authoritative guidance from the committee in the Rights of the child .
The American College of Paediatricians on their part has urged healthcare professionals worldwide to communicate the risk of pornography use to parents and their families and to offer resources both to protect their children from viewing pornography and to treat individuals suffering from its negative effects.It said that children under 12 years old, who have viewed pornography, are statistically more likely to sexually assault their peers and these children are at the risk of a broad range of maladaptive behaviours and psychopathology.
A recent primary research article in JAMA psychiatry, shows that pornography consumption is associated with decreased left striatua activation and lower functional connectivity  to the prefrontal cortex. Also,smaller grey matter volume in the viewers can cause down regulation of the brain’s response to erotic material. These neural changes in the brains of pornography users are similar to changes seen in the brains of individuals addicted to cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamines. These cause mental disturbance and unrest for the young school age child .
The Association  advises that since the internet is the primary medium for pornography exposure, computers should be equipped with internet filtering and monitory software to reduce exposure. “There are variety of parental controls and filtering systems available to parents and some current software vendors offering filtering and monitoring of smart phones which are now the primary technology used by adolescents to access the internet.  Also, there are software services which offer the ability to create accountability partnerships so as to increase the success of breaking free from pornography addiction”, the Association noted.
A clinical/school  social worker, Danny Huerta, over the years observed that pornography  leaves children incredibly stunted in their growth and maturity and enslaved to pleasure and consumption, depriving them of healthy sexuality for their marriages for society and for generations to come. He added that pornography triggers the body production of oxytocin, which is the bonding activity between a husband and wife. The more it is used outside the design, the more confused and washed down the ability to bond.
He urged parents to help their children learn how and why to guard their hearts and minds which are their springs of life and to help them see that there is more to life than sex.
Another Child counsellor, Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, said that the consequences of pornography can be disastrous.
“Porn can stay in your head forever. It is very hard to get these images out of your head. They are burned in your memory  like a brand.” She adivised parents to protect their children by teaching them about sex before someone else does.
“According to her, “make it clear to them that if they have any questions or concerns, they can come to you and you won’t be upset. Tell your children that photos and videos of sex and nudity are wrong and teach them  what God’s word says about their bodies”.
“Be aware that many children encounter pornography at the home of a friend or neighbour. Monitor your children online activities and texts. Know what websites they visit, who they are talking to and what their passwords are. Be aware of the images they are taking of themselves and sharing ,”she said.
There is no doubt that exposure of children and adolescents to pornographic materials is harmful to their development and societal growth. Victims of early exposure to such things often end up addicted to it and they tend to want to have multiple sex partners. They are encouraged by what they see to engage in unsafe sexual practices.
It is important that parents give their children moral and sex education from early stages of life. Also, education about internet safety is key in achieving parental control.
“Government also has a greater role to play by enforcing laws concerning exposure of children to pornographic materials. It is often a common sight of children and adolescents watching rated videos shown by video rental shops across Nigeria”. Furthermore, introduction of moral and sex education in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools would go a long way in curbing this unhealthy trend and save our youths and the society at large from the menace of pornography.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Nigeria Of Our Dream

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As Nigeria approaches the 2023 elections, children in Rivers State have been baring their minds in The Tide on what they expect in Nigeria and their leaders from 2023, and their advice to other children.

 

Nigeria Needs Good Leaders – Alice Godwin Udoh (SS1)
For my country Nigeria, I wish for good and considerate leaders that have the fear of God, good schools with equipment and good roads. Also, law- abiding citizens and peace everywhere in the country.
My advice to children is that, they should always put God first in all they do. They should respect their elders,obey their parents and teachers and always live in peace with others.

 

ASUU Strike Should Not Happen Again – Oluwole Anointed (SS2)
My dream for Nigeria is that there should be free education for children and scholarships for students that deserve it.I wish that ASUU strike should not happen again. Let this be the last.
Government should help the less-previledged and defend the rights of the poor.
All children should try their best to make their parents, families and nation proud.

 

I Want A Corruption-Free Nigeria – Virtue Ayomide Lawal (SS2)
I dream of a new Nigeria rising like a plumule of a lily from the myriad of corruption, inhumanity, insecurity and insincerity. I crave for a Nigeria,where justice takes the centre stage, also love and tolerance with leaders seeking first the interest of the citizenry.
I also dream of a Nigeria where I can sleep  with my eyes closed, travel round without fear, stand and express my talents and show the world how gifted I am as a Nigerian.
A Nigeria with the air in the North, South, East and West blowing fresh fragrance of oneness, not the smell of blood. A great black kingdom of power knitted in unity. A nation with an army of gallant leaders paving the paths of greatness for their children and generations yet unborn. A birth of a new Nigeria.
To Nigerian children, do not lose hope. Better days will return, do not write off this nation, do not abandon it, do your little bit,get to know your history. Begin the change with yourself. Share, spark and ignite the fire of positive change into others around you in school, places of worship and communities. Together, we shall build a nation where peace and justice shall reign again.

 

Government Should  Try And Eradicate Poverty – Benjamin Charles  (SS 1)
I dream of a Nigeria in good condition. A country where more than half of the population is not held down by poverty. A country where hardwork provides results regardless of proximity of political powers and wealth, where every graduate will have good jobs waiting for him or her after graduation.
I believe in my dream, hoping for good governance in our country and effective changes in our economic system. When these are achieved, we as children will have a country to be proud of.
As Nigerian children, our dreams would involve driving structural foundation and transformational reforms that will serve to integrate us as a country from the Sambisa Forest of the North to the Fishing Port of the South, down to the Plantain Plantation of the West and finally to the Ricemills of the East.

 

I Want Employment For Nigerian Youths – Ruth Sokari Siyeofori  (SS 2)
I dream of a Nigeria where youths will be employed so that all these kidnappings, stealing, robbery, bunkering and cultism will stop. I wish that the discrimination against the poor will stop. The government should stop giving the people false hopes but provide good roads, railways, functional hospitals and good potable water.
I wish for good leadership and governance in my country, Nigeria.
My advice to children all over the world is to be respectful to their parents, elders and religious leaders.
We as children should learn to be grateful in all situations because better days are ahead of us. We should also be focused on our education so as to make not only our parents proud but the society at large.

 

Nigeria Needs A Roadmap For Sustainable Growth-  Perfect Eric (SS1)
I want a Nigeria where youths are given the chance to chart a roadmap that outlines a future that works for the good of the citizens, a roadmap that will put the country on the path of development, and make it a place where opportunities abound.
I visualise a Nigeria  where vibrant railway network forms an integral part of our transportation system because a lot of pressure would be taken off our roads thereby making them last longer. A vibrant rail system is important for us as a country  because most cargoes will be transported  by rail. Our political leaders  must strive to ensure that there is security of lives and property  and do whatever it takes to end terrorism, insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram and other such groups.
I dream of a country where corruption  is checkmated to address the rising scourge of poverty in the country. The current unemployment rate is mind- boggling. So, I dream of a country where jobs will be available for every qualified youth.
I wish government at all levels to find solutions to our pressing challenges, including unemployment which has made many graduates remain jobless after graduation. Put differently, the massive unemployment in the land is part of the reason why many youths consider  acquiring western education as a waste  of time and resources.
Finally, as the country marked her 62nd Independence anniversary on Saturday, October 1, I would like to charge the Federal Government to do all it takes to meet our  expectations as well as create an environment where our dreams can come to fruition and all children  from all walks of life can be proud citizens of Nigeria and boast of her achievements. If we all pull our resources together, we can make Nigeria great again .

 

I Look Forward To Nigeria’s Unity- Ndieze John Paul (JSS2)
My dream for Nigeria is that of equality and unity as a nation. I have a dream that one day, Christians, Muslims, the rich, poor, clean, unclean, able, disabled, male, female shall sit together side by side in brotherhood to pray, work, play and eat.
My hope is for this great nation, Nigeria, our great motherland to be bound in unity, faith, peace, love and progress  for therein lies our motto.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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