Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei


Children everywhere are termed as future leaders. And for this reason, every family strives to give their children the best foundation to grow up and become respectful and productive people. It is because of the importance of children in succeeding their parents as heirs apparent that religions emphasize moral training for children with care. The Qur’an warns parents who don’t take good care of children, and also advises for good training for children. The Bible also gives parents a good recommendation to train up their children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.

Socially, societies are communally organized for the welfare of their communities, in which moral standards are set. It is through the practices of these standards that children experience and learn, and exhibit when they take over as descendants and forerunners in charge. This practice is passed on from generation to generation.

With the emergence of political organizations and the nation-states, laws have been codified to maintain peace and order. Policies and plans are put together to set basic foundations that succeeding generations will flourish in peace and wealth. States are taking prime responsibilities of building schools, clinics and recreational centers for young people who need the best upbringing to take over the future of the nation-states. States also formulate programs and implement them for child protections against environmental and health disasters, societal vices -kidnapping, rape, child labor and abuse, etc. International organizations have accentuated the need for children protection and empowerment through various conventions, treaties and protocols.

With the existence of these modern opportunities and enormous increase in globalization and information technology, one wonders what will be the future of the children of Liberia when they are far from realizing the empirical existence of protocols and conventions aimed at protecting them, at a time when empathy had perished from the country, where no one cares anymore. In fact, when globalization and technology were gearing up to boom around the world, Liberia was deeply deposited in chaos. Today while some countries are promulgating policies that will assign one lap top to a school going child, Liberian children are yet to know what technology and globalization mean.

The Plights

For over a long time young people in Liberia have lived as a destitute class of people. For a few whose parents maneuver to gain access to state’s resources, or by other means, they were quickly transferred to foreign countries where all is planned and implemented well for children, thereby giving them significant edge over those who struggles through the rough terrains in Liberia.

Growing up as a child in present-day Liberia is quite a difficult one. Children born during the years of the civil upheaval can not adequately explain the nature and necessities of peace though they need it most. They grew up and saw violence and barbarism as a condition of life all over the county. Ironically, those vicious acts were perpetrated by those responsible to give them a future. They were taught to kill, smoke, steal and roughly survive. Consequently, most of them saw looting, stealing, and harassing as the easiest means of survival.

With the return of the country to normalcy, dozens of them in their adolescence or beyond, hopelessly ply the streets of cities as mendicants, drug addicts, and hijackers. Some are amputated and their survival left at the mercy of offering givers. The situation of kidnapping had existed for years, and still prevails in some parts of the country.

The Present Situation

Of recent, with the prevailing economic conditions in the country, another horrible specter has begun haunting the Liberian children in their infancies. Cases of rape against little girls between the ages of 0 and 17 occur weekly around the country. Sadly, reports of suicide are taking place involving children less than 15 years of age. One wonders what may be the psychosocial problems affecting those kids to decide on death as the only solution. It will be a conjecture to believe that these kids are sharing the problems of their parents who finds difficulties in making ends meet, some of whom (parents) cowardly escape from their homes. Just in less than six months, children are dying and disappearing under mysterious conditions. Two major cases that my thinking capacity had not absorbed and therefore finds it difficult to believe are the news of the alleged suicide by hanging committed by the two kids – thirteen year-old Angel Togba and seven year-old God’s Gift. Last year, nine-year old Janjay died after being raped and abused. Other cases breeding horrors in the lives of Liberian children are the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Alvin Davis (Monrovia), Augustine Golotor (Gbarnga), Vaywue Kesseley (Zorzor), and the disappearance of several children around the country, some of whom corpses are found with several parts missing. Issues of child labor and abuses are very common. These reports must alert everyone in the country that the children of Liberia are living in sheer vulnerability and no where in the country is considered safe for their survival. But we keep eagle eyes on our government viewing its commitment and ability to bring to justice those in the habits of ruining the future of this country by destroying its children in their infancies.

Besides the threats of kidnapping, raping, and killing hanging over the children of Liberia, a good number of them live in harsh social and economic conditions resulting from problems in their families. Expressions in the faces of children in the streets signal lot of things- hunger, force labor, family problem, and maltreatment at home. Most of them live today as breadwinners for their families by selling petty goods in markets and street corners, and running between cars for customers at the peril of their lives. With several promises to take them from the streets and markets and send them to school, they remain in disillusionment because the promises are yet to be fulfilled.

Looking into the Future

A brighter future for this country depends on building a good foundation for the children of Liberia. What can save the day now and set the future properly is taking steps from promising, policy writing to implementing and enforcing existing laws and policies. The Free and Compulsory Primary Education and the Policy on Girls Education are potential enough to contribute enormously to the problems if and only if they are enforced and their implementations monitored and evaluated regularly. Moreover, Liberia needs modern localized and legal provisions to protect the children in consonance with other international documents like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, African Chatter on Human and Peoples’ Right and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Robust child protection and education policies with proper implementation and monitoring are needed to rescue these harsh situations. Child protection needs to be complemented with legal actions. A fast tract court to adjudicate cases involving child abuse, rape, kidnapping, and maltreatment will be very essential to the process. Cases concerning children can pass through the Women and Children Protection Section of the LNP that will investigate them and send them to court. This means that the Women and children Protection Section of the LNP needs to be vibrant and equipped with officers trained as Children Monitoring Officers.

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