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There is always the feeling of nostalgia when people recall the good old days. Communal living emphasized close community, intimate and collective living, people looked out for one another, pool resources, shared meals, child care, accommodation and resolve conflicts amicably. There was a sense of belonging and needs were met.
Development, industrialization, technological advancement has robbed us of this cohesion. Many families have to struggle against harsh economic conditions such as unemployment, severe financial hardship, poverty, serious problems with accommodation resulting in family tensions and breakdown, alienation and social isolation, hopelessness, emotional damage and crime.
Family stress leads to serious disagreement between parents and violence posing distress for children and long term harm which may be associated with children’s behavioural problems. They may likely have long term consequences on their education, employment and future.
One of the rules of conflict resolution is to understand the root of a problem before determining the conflict strategy to fix it. Prevention of a problem from occurring is better than searching for a cure. Someone said a problem harbors its solution. That is, the solution to a problem lies in the problem. The children’s law, the Child’s Rights Act may have a solution to the prevalent social problems.
It provides for the establishment of family centres in every State of the Federation where disadvantaged children and their families can visit for support and assistance to meet their unique individual family requirements. It affords a sense of belonging and meeting of needs. The ideals of communal living find expression through the law.
The law mandates State Governments to identify children in need within their areas, assess their needs and provide a range of services appropriate to their needs including counseling, mediation, mentoring and cash to safeguard and promote their upbringing by their families.
The law stipulates the publication of the services provided by government and voluntary organizations to create awareness to prevent children from suffering ill-treatment, neglect or come to harm and steer them away from criminal activities.
The law needs enforcement. This support will help families achieve a solid family structure. It will enable parents discharge their responsibility leading to a positive, warm relationship important to the healthy development of children.
Vulnerable families, children, youths can walk or call in to trade helplessness for hope and strength. It is not only the children and their families that will be protected but the society as well! It is time to establish family centres but without the paraphernalia of government to make it friendly and encourage usage. This will show we care.
Mary Aderibigbe is a lawyer-mediator and conflict coach. She integrates mediation in her legal practice. Her practice areas include family, estate planning, real estate, employment and intellectual property law. She is the publisher of Family mediator. She was the editor for Africa, Government Publications Review and former member, Lagos State Library Board. She runs a community service Family Support website.
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