Dr Maji Peter, a mental health expert, has identified communication, instilling self-esteem and survival skills on children to prevent any form of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
Peterx, who is also the Country Director, Equal Access International, made this known on the sideline of a three-day training under Palladium’s Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) project, sponsored by USAID in Abuja.
According to him, SGBV and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM) are an endemic ravaging the nation, hence the need to sensitise the public on its negative impacts in the psyche and societal structure.
He advised parents, guardians and other stakeholders to create a platform for fruitful conversation, watch out for any traces of abuses and instill street survival skills in children to prevent them falling violence.
“We should build our children’s self esteem. We should win the confidence of our children. We should create a platform for sincere communication with our children, so that they can tell us what their problem is.
“We should stop judging them and we should not create our own standard for our children to live up to because we live in different worlds.
“ And most importantly, we should be able to teach our children street sense life skills and survival skills,’’ he said.
According to him, children or other survivors of SGBV find it difficult to confide in another person because of stigmatisation, blame attitude and shutting them down, when they try to communicate on their plights.
“Like when a child refuses to go to school or a drop in their academic performance, or preference for isolation. Parents should try to find out reasons and not term that person lazy or unserious.
“When we do that, we are exposing the child and he realises that he can’t speak to us with his personnel issues.
“And there are times when a child is being victimised or raped, or a child is being abused or molested and the questions we asked shows as if we are trying to blame them for causing it.
“These tend to shut down the victims, and shutting them off from making conversations about what is affecting them, thereby making them more vulnerable to such abuses,’’ he said.
On reducing rape and other SGBV, Maji said shaming the perpetrator by making them walk around their communities, where people identified and fingers pointed at them, as well as including them in the Sexual Offender Register would curb the trend.
The Mental health expert also called on the government and critical stakeholders to implement policies and programmes that would protect the rights of children, women and People with Disabilities (PWDs),
He said that policies like the child Rights Act, Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, Disability law, among others, if fully implemented would reduce all forms of violence against vulnerable persons.