The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), plans to train relevant stakeholders to ensure an adequate and professional response to child protection issues in Kaduna State.
Mr Dennis Onoise, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the training was designed to improve the capacity of stakeholders to effectively respond to children needs.
Onoise explained that the state, with support from UNICEF, was putting systems in place to ensure a broad and holistic approach to managing child protection issues in the state.
According to him, UNICEF and Kaduna state is working to ensure that everything that was required to ensure comprehensive child protection was put in place.
He stressed that with the systems being put in place, UNICEF would expedite action in building the capacity of stakeholders to ensure that the systems work.
“For example, the state government has approved the establishment of three family courts to ensure full implementation of the state’s Child Welfare Law.
“The government has also appointed 10 judicial counsels to work with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development to ensure that any child that is abused, get justice.
“But most lawyers are general practitioners, with no specific knowledge on child protection or how to adjudicate issues around child protection.
“There are also court assessors, social welfare workers and other critical officials of the judiciary.
“So, we are going to be building the capacity of lawyers, court assessors, social welfare workers and other critical government officials on how best to handle child protection issues,” he said.
The specialist also said that UNICEF would equally build the capacity of law enforcement officers on how to work with children that comes into contact with the law.
“For example, sometimes police say, ‘we are interrogating children’. What we want them to know is that children are not adult, so you cannot interrogate children, but you can interview them.
“Therefore, law enforcement officers need to be equipped with the rudiment of working with children. We want the police to know how to engage children,” Onoise said.
He added that UNICEF, in partnership with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) had begun mobilising religious and traditional leaders as part of community mobilisation to curb child abuse.
He said that the religious and traditional leaders were being trained to create the needed awareness in communities; churches and mosques about child abuse, all its forms, and how to prevent them.