In a bid to prevent and strengthen response to end violence against children, the Cross River State Government in southern Nigeria has launched a priority action plan.
The plan, which was developed with the participation of relevant stakeholders such as the media, child protection workers and educationists, has been designed to implement the end violence campaign.
Deputy Governor of the State, Professor Ivara Esu launched the Action Plan to End violence Against Children Campaign at the Tinapa Leisure and Business Resort in Calabar on behalf of Governor Ben Ayade.
Professor Esu said of the plan, which had the full support of the United Nations’ Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF: “over the years, children have been exposed to several forms of violence perpetrated at different levels with varying degrees of negative on the society”.
“Prevention and early response to violence against children requires a holistic and multi-sectoral coordination by all stakeholders for sustainability. Today, we launch the Cross River State Priority Action Plan to prevent and respond to violence against children”, Ivara Stated.
The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough said facts from a recent survey revealed that “6 out of every 10 children suffer one or more forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence. 9 million children suffer sexual violence every year”.
Gough, who was represented by Rachael Harvey, commended the commitment of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to end violence against children through the launching of a national action plan.
The Representative stressed the need for State and Local Governments authorities to take critical action to end violence against children, noting “while national level commitments are important, how these are translated into action at State, Local Government Area and community levels are critical”.
She particularly urged the children to speak out against violence of any kind rather than remain silent.
“There are many shocking findings in the survey and one was particularly tragic. Children, you stay silent when you suffer violence. My message to you is if you suffer violence, it is a problem, it is not your fault, speak out. Do not suffer in silence”, she urged.
In an earlier remark, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Stella Odey said the ministry embarked on a road show to sensitize the public on the need to stop attacks on children and women.
There were presentations from the judiciary, the Nigeria Police and Children’s Parliament on ways to strengthen the implementation of the plan to end violence.
Highlights of the event were drama sketches, dance and recitations by school children and a multi-media presentation by Mrs. Lilian Ekanem of the Child’s Protection Network on the extent of violence against children in Cross River State.