Despite widespread condemnation, recurrent incidences of violence point to a persisting ‘culture’ of violence in the world at large – and Nigeria in particular, where violence has been unprecedentedly visible and audible. But where does so much violence stem from? The persistence of violence in Nigeria stems basically from an inherited lifestyle of violence, ignorance and neglect of conflict prevention, management and resolution techniques; t he direct result of the predisposition of people to – and propagation of – an innate culture of violence in society. In daily interactions with siblings, kin and peers, as well as in the media, people are exposed to various forms and degrees of violence and so it continues to be a norm. This prevalence points to a tragic future of violence and insecurity.
Why then do we labour round the clock to ensure that our children “become a success in future”, if this “future” is an uncertain one, laden with insecurity of life and property? Why the commitment to providing material comfort for our children when we devote little or nothing towards ensuring they live peacefully in safety?
Children are our tomorrow, as a country and as a race. The type of society they will inhabit tomorrow will depend on their majority lifestyle, which is today being shaped by the values bequeathed to them. The hope of a violence-free society tomorrow requires therefore, that as they grow into adulthood, the existing template of violence be replaced with that of a peaceful genre in the ideology and attitudes of children.
It has been quite convenient to point accusatory fingers at the country’s bureaucracy for the prevalence of violence in Nigeria. Unfortunately, this has and will not eradicate the menace. The spate of violence in the country calls for sober reflection and for urgent collaborative efforts by all and sundry – especially parents, educators and young people – to avert an imminent catastrophe.
One sure way of achieving this is through proper education and enlightenment of children (especially). Children are born lacking in violence. It is environment and nurture that determine what ideologies and behavioural patterns children imbibe. This is reflected in their all-round interactions with siblings and friends, and ultimately, in their reaction to ever-present conflict amongst them.
It is therefore imperative that children be peace-educated. It is during their formative years that children develop their value systems; the ability to express themselves, to relate with others, to quarrel and to settle conflicts. It is at this time that education for peace is essential.
Our children, relatives and friends grew up to become suicide bombers, murderers and kidnappers as we know them today. These children, relatives and friends are first and foremost human beings, who (due to environment and nurture) were wrongly indoctrinated, manipulated, coerced and mobilized for the violent schemes and terrorism we are witnessing in Nigeria today.
Ten years ago, nobody would have predicted that there would be bomb-blasts in Nigeria – and certainly not at this rate. This alone is a pointer to the fact that violence, like every other social vice, will only escalate if not addressed. There is no doubt that if more steps are taken in advancing the course of peace and non-violence education in children, there will surely be a reduction, and hopefully eradication of violence in our society over time.
An African proverb says that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Nurturing peaceful and peace-loving children is therefore a moral responsibility for every adult. The more we (as adults) remind and encourage children to embrace the non-violent option in resolving conflicts, we lower their chances of indulging in violent activities as youths and adults; the more peaceful the country will become in the long term. By constantly discussing about this problem at home, in the classroom, in the community, and helping Nigerian children peaceably settle their differences, we will be grooming Nigerians who not only possess the skills, but the craving and tenacity to maintain peace.
By Imo-owo Mbede
Seeds For Peace [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seeds-for-Peace/133911836766217] +2348032941726 firstname.lastname@example.org