United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, says about 60 percent of children, representing six in 10 children, suffer one or more types of violence before they reach the age of 18 in Nigeria.
The international agency in a statement on Thursday also commended the Bayelsa State government for the domestication of the National Child’s Right Act, NCRA.
UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough said Bayelsa had become the 23rd state in Nigeria to ensure the legal protection of children from all forms of violence through the domestication of the NCRA.
He said the law signed by Governor Seriake Dickson in May 2016, for the first time in Bayelsa, criminalises violence against children and sets out the role of every stakeholder in preventing and responding to violence against children, which is widespread in Nigeria.
Gough said, “A national survey by the National Population Commission, supported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, launched in September 2015, found that six in 10 children suffer one or more types of violence before they reach the age of 18 years.
“Also, one in two suffers physical violence, one in four girls and one in 10 boys suffer sexual violence and one in five boys and one in six girls suffer emotional violence. Most children never tell anyone what happened to them. Less than four per cent ever receive the support they need to recover.
“In response to these findings, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Year of Action to End Violence against Children, calling on states to take action to strengthen their laws, policies and services to protect children. Bayelsa State has heeded the federal government’s call and is warmly congratulated.”
He said the ground breaking law was a significant step in protecting and supporting the millions of children suffering physical, sexual and emotional violence every year in Nigeria.
Gough said UNICEF, the Bayelsa State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the state Ministry of Justice and civil society groups, especially the Child Protection Network, relentlessly advocated for the passage of the law under the Support to Justice Sector Reform Programme, a €26million initiative funded by the European Union.
Governor Dickson had said while signing the NCRA that he was delighted that the new law would offer protection for children in Bayelsa State.
“I stress that anyone caught violating the rights of children will be prosecuted according to the provisions of this new law,” Dickson said.
Also, the head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Michel Arrion welcomed the domestication of the Act by Bayelsa State, urging other states which had yet to do so to follow Bayelsa example.

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