Dayo Johnson, Akure
OVER 200 teenagers have participated in a four- kilometre walk to raise awareness about and against child sexual abuse in the country.
The walk which was the brainchild of a non-governmental organisation, OLO Foundation, is coordinated by Mrs Oluwatomi Oyinsan who said the walk reached out to teenagers with the purpose of helping them to speak up against any form of sexual abuse.
The walk marked the first year anniversary of the foundation and it has as theme: Breaking The Silence– A walk against child sexual abuse.
The walk took off from Igbo-Efon Bus/stop and ended at Jakande White-Sand Field, Lagos State.
”The focus is to let children and teenagers experiencing any form of abuse know that they can speak out (break the silence) and get help.
“For many of those being abused, even though they realise it is not right, they have come to accept it as normal. We are here to tell them it is not! Child Sexual Abuse is a crime and should be treated as such.
“These innocent children can speak up and get help. These span from legal (prosecution of the offenders), medical to psychological.
“It is a very uncomfortable topic that we will continue talking about until the perpetrators get very uncomfortable and stop these evil acts or are brought to book.
“The objectives of the Foundation include; mentoring teenage girls to live a godly life, helping abused teenage girls find help and speak up against sexual abuse, and assisting them in vocational and soft skills acquisition. Oyinsan added that the target audience was spoken to and provided necessary information and details of what to do in a case of abuse.
“They will also be given tips on how to spot potential abusers and ways to avoid vulnerable situations.
The coordinator added that “the Foundation is essentially set up to help children and teenagers grow up safe by sensitizing them and helping those who have been or are being sexually abused.
In an interview after the walk, the coordinator of the foundation, Oyinsan said: “We just took a walk against child sexual abuse under the umbrella of OLO Foundation. This is a dream that I’ve always nurtured and it’s about creating awareness to stop child sexual abuse. OLO Foundation started operation on the 17th of August 2017 and to mark our one year anniversary, we decided to do a walk to create awareness in Lekki part of Lagos to talk to teenage children between the ages of 10 and 19 years, to speak to them about Child Sexual Abuse and how they can be safe, and keep themselves away from sexual predators.
On how the foundation passes the message across to the teenagers, she said: “We educate them on the need and ways to keep their body, and preserve their dignity. Letting them know that there are sexual predators around them, and they should report any incidence of sexual molestation to someone that they trust; someone they can talk to and hopefully, the person can take it on.
“Also, recognising the fact that they would need some basic household items, we shared some gift items to them, like sanitary pads, toothbrushes, clothes, shoes and school materials.”
Speaking on government’s involvement, Oyinsan said: “The government is very pleased with what we’re doing. We sent a message to the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response, DSVR Team and they have responded positively.
“They are willing to support us in the future as well. So, we can say the Lagos State Government actually is doing a very good job concerning Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse and all that. It’s amazing.
Foundation’s advice to parents:
“Parents should please always keep an eye on their children, even if they have to be paranoid, they should be. A lot of things are happening- uncles are sleeping with their nieces even their nephews, aunties are sleeping with these kids; grandfathers are sleeping with their grandchildren (even nannies, house helps etc).
“As a parent, you need to always make sure that you talk to your children, develop a good cordial relationship with your children. It’s very important and very necessary for you to be able to get information out of them that is the only way you can know exactly what they are going through. Also, we want to plead with leaders everywhere, “let’s stop covering these things up, It’s wrong.
“The best way to handle any form of child sexual abuse is to report the person and let the Law do something about it”.
Oyinsan appealed to “parents, teachers, leaders, please be watchful, report and in some cases, remove the child from the situation and we believe that with this, we can end this silence epidemic.