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The Nigeria Of My Dream

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My love, my  Nigeria, is  located on the west coast of Africa, having 36 states. It is known as the ‘Giant Of Africa’ and viewed by neighbouring countries as ‘Little in words: Big in action’.
Nigeria is a massive country of more than  100 million people comprising 250 ethnic groups speaking 525 dialects. Nigeria, a country that loves peace keeping has led  the world on international peace keeping missions of 80 countries and troops to over 20 global operations. Nigeria also has vast natural  reserves, the world’s fifth largest.
Though having all this, I have a dream that one day Nigeria  will be a happier and healthier place to live in, a safe country, a place where corruption, greed and robbery will not exist. A Nigeria filled with care and kindness, honest and hardworking citizens. A place where it’s people will love and care for each other, and it’s leaders will love and care for its  citizens.
A  country where everyone, regardless of social class and level of  income, has equal access to decent accommodation, good education, good roads, pipe-borne water, electricity and where citizens enjoy critical infrastructure.
I dream of a Nigeria where security of lives and property is guaranteed, a country where it’s nation hood is  celebrated in peace, unity and prosperity. A Nigeria where our best and brightest will not spend their most productive years building other countries.
I also dream of a prosperous country where every Nigerian will live in dignity, an end to high level of poverty and where it’s citizens will enjoy the dividend of the riches of the country.
Nigeria is a country endowed with milk and honey by nature but selfishness have eroded God’s free gift. I dream of a Nigeria with improved level of education up to world class standard.
Also, a Nigeria where the term ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ actually refers to youths and not the old men and women in power. I dream of a Nigeria where fraud becomes history
A Nigeria where the last man in a village will feel the existence of government, a country where people in government places citizens’ welfare higher. A Nigeria where peace will reign among the different religion, no hatred for people despite religion, no hatred for people despite the difference.
A Nigeria where employment opportunities will be available. I dream of a Nigeria where public officers are responsible for their wrong doing. A Nigeria where human rights are respected.
In conclusion, If Nigeria is filled with all these, it will be respected. I am one of the Nigerians who believes that there is a very big hope for our country. This dream is not a flying horse, This is ‘My dream for Nigeria’.
Boniface is an SS2
Student of Sunrise Schools, Borikiri,Port Harcourt.

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Checking Children Maltreatment

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Child maltreatment is a serious global health problem with life long consequences.
It is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18years of age by a parent, care giver or another person in a custodial role, especially in the hands of a clergy, coach and teacher, that results in harm, potential harm or threat of harm to a child.
According to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly 3 in 4 children or 300 million children aged 2 to 4 years regularly suffer physical punishment or psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers. Also, one in 5 women and 1 in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child aged 0 to 17 years.
Subsequently, 120 million girls and young women under 20 years of age have suffered some form of forced sexual contact.
Some consequences of child maltreatment include impaired lifelong physical and mental health, and the social and occupational outcomes can ultimately slow a country’s economic and social development.
The report further stated that child maltreatment is often hidden and only a fraction of child victims of maltreatment ever gets support from health professionals.
“A child who is abused is more likely to abuse others as an adult so that violence is passed down from one generation to the next. It is therefore critical to break this cycle of violence, and in so doing create positive multi-generational impacts.
Preventing child maltreatment before it starts is possible and requires a multisectoral approach.
Effective prevention approaches include supporting parents and teaching positive parenting skills, and enhancing laws to prohibit violent punishment.
Ongoing care of children and families can reduce the risk of maltreatment reoccurring and can minimise its consequences, the report stated.
The report explained that child maltreatment includes all types of physical or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
In spite of recent national surveys in several low- and middle-income countries, data from many countries are still lacking. However, current estimates vary widely depending on the country and the method of research used.
International studies reveal that nearly 3 in 4 children aged 2-4 years regularly suffer physical punishment or psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men report having been sexually abused as a child.
Every year, there are an estimated 40 150 homicide deaths in children under 18 years of age, some of which are likely due to child maltreatment. This number almost certainly underestimates the true extent of the problem, since a significant proportion of deaths due to child maltreatment are incorrectly attributed to falls, burns, drowning and other causes.
In armed conflict and refugee settings, girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and abuse by combatants, security forces, members of their communities, aid workers and others.
These injuries include, head injuries and severe disability, in particular in young children; post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Adolescent girls may face additional health issues, including gynaecological disorders and unwanted pregnancy. Also affect cognitive and academic performance and is strongly associated with alcohol and drug abuse and smoking – key risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
It is important to emphasize that children are the victims and are never to blame for maltreatment.
However,to maximize the effects of prevention and care, WHO recommends that interventions are delivered as part of a four-step public health approach: defining the problem; identifying causes and risk factors; then, designing and testing interventions aimed at minimizing the risk factors; disseminating information about the effectiveness of interventions and increasing the scale of proven effective interventions.
Meanwhile, in another research, medically reviewed recently in 2022, a medical doctor of the State University of New York Medical University, Alicia Perkarsky said that causes of child maltreatment are varied.
Abuse and neglect are often associated with physical injuries, delayed growth and development, and mental health issues. She stated that, diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, and sometimes laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging. Management of the issue includes documentation and treatment of any injuries and physical and mental health conditions, mandatory reporting to appropriate government agencies, and sometimes hospitalization and/or foster care to keep the child safe.
Perkarsy stated that in 2020, 3.9 million reports of alleged child maltreatment were made to Child Protective Services (CPS) in the US involving 7.1 million children. About 2.1 million of these reports were investigated in detail, and about 618,000 maltreated children were identified . Maltreatment rates were higher among girls (8.9 per 1000 girls) than boys (7.9 per 1000 boys). The younger the child is, the higher the rate of victimization (about 29% were age 2 or younger).
Also, about two thirds of all reports to Child Protective Services were made by professionals who are mandated to report maltreatment (educators, law enforcement personnel, social services personnel, legal professionals, day care providers, medical or mental health personnel, foster care providers).
“Of substantiated cases in the US in 2020, 76.1% involved neglect (including medical neglect), 16.5% involved physical abuse, 9.4% involved sexual abuse, and 0.2% involved sex trafficking. Many children were victims of multiple types of maltreatment.
“About 1750 children died in the US of maltreatment in 2020, about half of whom were 1 year old. About 73% of these children were victims of neglect and 43% were victims of physical abuse with or without other forms of maltreatment. About 80% of perpetrators were parents acting alone or with other individuals .
“Potential perpetrators of child maltreatment are defined slightly differently in different US states, but, in general, to legally be considered abuse, actions must be done by a person responsible for the child’s welfare. Thus, parents and other relatives, people living in the child’s home who have occasional responsibility, teachers, bus drivers, counselors, and so forth may be perpetrators. People who commit violence against children who they have no connection to or responsibility for ( as in school shootings) are guilty of assault, murder, and so forth but legally are not committing child abuse”,she stated.
Here, in Nigeria, in a recent study by a researcher, Chiluba Edo of the Golden Gate University, School of Law noted that, child abuse and neglect is prevalent in the everyday life of a child but it receives little or no attention by the society. This is as a result of the emphasis placed on the more prevalent childhood problems of malnutrition and infection. The study observed that another possible reason is the general assumption that in every African society the extended family system always provides love, care and protection to all children. Yet, there are traditional child rearing practices which adversely affect a child. With the alteration of society by rapid socioeconomic and political changes, various forms of child abuse have been identified and have been considered the outcome of abnormal interactions between the child, parents/guardians and society. These, the study noted include abandonment of normal infants by unmarried or very poor mothers in cities, increased child labour and exploitation of children from rural areas in urban elite families, and abuse of children in urban nuclear families by childminders. Preventive measures include provision of infrastructural facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas in order to prevent drift of the young population to the cities. This would sustain the supportive role of the extended family system which is rapidly being eroded. There is also need for greater awareness of the existence of child abuse in the community by health and social workers.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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‘Why Adventurous Children Have Better Mental Health’

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A new research has observed that children who spend more time playing adventurously have lower symptoms of anxiety and depression and were happier over the first COVID-19 lockdown.
The study led by researchers in the University of Exeter and published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development in 2022 , comes at a time when today’s children have fewer opportunities for adventurous play out of sight of adults, such as climbing trees, riding bikes, jumping from high surfaces or playing somewhere they are out of adult sight. The study sought to test theories that adventurous play offers learning opportunities that help build resilience in children, thereby helping to prevent mental health problems.
The research team which was made up of Helen  Dodd, Rachel Nesbit and Lily FitzGibbon  surveyed nearly 2,500 parents of children aged 5-11 years. Parents completed questions  about their child’s play, their general mental health (pre COVID) and their mood during the first COVID -19.
The result was that, children who spend more time playing outside had fewer ‘’internalising problems ‘’, characterised as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown.
The study also found out that the effect was more pronounced in children from lower income families than those growing up in higher income households.
Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Exeter, Helen Dodd, who led the study noted that, ‘’we are more concerned than ever about children’s mental health by ensuring they have plentiful opportunities for adventurous play. This is really positive because play is free, instinctive and rewarding for children, available for everyone and doesn’t require special skills. We now urgently need to invest in and protect natural space, well – designed parks and adventurous play grounds to support the mental health of our children,’’ she explained.
Also, Director of United Kingdom Impact At Save The Children, Dan Paskins, stated that “every child needs and deserves opportunities to play. This important research shows that this is even more vital to help children thrive after all they missed out on during the COVID -19 restrictions. More play means more happiness and less anxiety and depression.’’
Welcoming the findings, Chief Executive of Play Board  NI, Jacqueline O’Loughin, said,’’this research emphasises the importance of adventurous play.
Children and young people need freedom and opportunities to encounter challenge and risk in their everyday playful adventures. It is clear from the research findings that playing,taking risks and experiencing excitement outdoors make a positive contribution to children ‘s mental health and emotional well being. The reward of allowing children to self – regulate and manage challenge in their play are widespread and far- reaching.
Adventurous play helps children to build the resilience needed to cope with and manage stress in challenging circumstances,’’ she added.
Also, in a statement by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), on how  play strengthens children’s mental  health, the body noted that, ‘’playful moments are essential in our little one’s emotional well being. Play is how young children learn and make sense of the  world around them. While they are having fun, they are working on critical parts of their development like building motor,cognitive,social and emotional skills. The power of play extends beyond early learning,it also plays a key role in building children’s mental health and parents too. Children who play regularly with their parents are less likely to develop anxiety, depression, aggression  and sleep problems,’’it stated.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo with Agency Report

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‘If I Become Leader Of Nigeria …’ 

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As a future leader of Nigeria,there are many things I can do to develop my country . There is a saying which says,”Before you can solve a problem,you have to first identify the problem “. So, there are numerous things I can do for the country to close the lengthened gaps in other to bring in advancement and development like in other countries.
The things I can do by God’s grace, will include ensuring that the lives and property of citizens are well secured and safe,therefore making sure that military,paramilitary personnel are well trained and for the job.
I will also make sure that our educational system is properly modernised and I will ensure that education is not expensive for the masses,making at least 95 percent of the people in the country to be educated.
Also, I would bring about economic stability and never give room for economic recession but improve the value of our currency (Naira). Monopoly of the economy will be removed by having both agriculture and crude oil in view.
I will also make sure that we have a stable and convenient political environment, ensuring that democracy is well practised in the nation, thereby eroding corruption and corruptionists during elections.
Another area, I will work on is transportation,to be safe for citizens,especially those that are trading (buying and selling ).
Other predominant things I will do is to ensure peaceful co- existence among people.  Everyone should be treated equally, whether rich or poor, there should be no room for injustice. Employment for youths and young adults should be key so that they can have a means of survival in society.  And also peace among ethnic groups and organi-sations.
All these and more are what I will do  if I become a leader of Nigeria.

By: Wisdom God’swork

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