By Orukpe Orumor Esq
In a recent trending viral video, a very young boy child, under interrogation from a female voice said to be his mum, is seen crying profusely and pleading with his interrogator to “calm down and rest a little .The young boy sobs hard further and pleads “ I want you to be calming down …I am sorry ma ,momasebe mo.I promise you this is my last chance” etc, etc. At a stage in the video, the young child even asks : “Mummy are you videoing me? What are you doing mummy? “
It has been reported that the viral video inspired the Lagos State Governor in his Sallah message to the state, urging Lagosians to ‘calm down’ as they enjoy the coming holiday, stressing on the need to be moderate in the celebrations and observe prescribed protocols toward defeating the deadly coronavirus (see vanguardngr.com of 31/7/2020). It has further been reported that the young lad star of the video is set to meet the Governor and has gotten an ambassadorial deal(see iBrandTV).
No doubt, the positive recognition and acknowledgement of the said video by the said Governor has automatically granted the young lad and his interrogator, said to be his mum, fame and overnight celebrity status, which they never may have bargained for in the first place. Such is life! The end justifies the means.
Interestingly , social media has been swashed with several differing views on the viral video especially on the appropriateness of same. Whereas some have taken the video on its face value and not beyond the pun that may have been intended by it, others ,mostly categorized as “oyinbo parents” have come down hard on the video deploring the subjection of the young boy to apparent agony and humiliation. Some doubt the motive behind the video, claiming it was an acting episode. Some have also questioned the rational of the video while others have justified same, classifying same as mere theatrics and exemplified dramatization. This piece will not justify any of the differing views, as there can never be a uniformity of perception and or interpretation of the said viral video.
However, lest the positive affirmation of the video by the Governor sends a wrong signal to undiscerning parents who may now be tempted to copy same, it is important that certain aspects of the applicable law be examined in order not to run foul of the law. This succinct piece is a non-pedantic and cursory examination of some aspects of the law vis a vis the aforesaid viral video.
Section 10 of the Child Right Law of Lagos State establishes the right to dignity of the child and states in subsection 10(1)(b)&(c) as follows:
Every child is entitled to respect and the dignity of person and accordingly a child shall not be
(a)Subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(b)Subjected to attacks upon the child honour or reputation;
Section 18 of the said law specifies the responsibilities of a child and includes the duty of a child, subject to the age and ability of the child and such other limitation as contained in the law ,to respect parents, superiors and elders at all times and assist them in case of need. Section 19 of the law enjoins Parents, amongst others, to provide the necessary guidance to secure a child observance of his responsibilities set out in the law.
The issue as to whether Parents or Legal Guardians, amongst others, can in the guise of enforcing Section 19 of the said law subject the child to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or to attacks upon the child’s honour or reputation is a very mootable one. Recording and dissemination of such acts in social media, irrespective of the mensrea, even makes it more debatable.
Although there is no clear-cut penalty for the breach of Section 10 of the Child Right Law, it would appear that the said Section may be enforced under Section 35(application of criminal law provisions) and Section 196(legal rights of a child) of the said law as well as under Section 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
Whatever be the case, the paramount interest of the child reigns supreme in all circumstances. The guiding principle and the primary consideration regarding every action undertaken by any individual, public or private body, institution, court of law, administrative or legislative authority, concerning a child, is the “best interest of the child”. See Section 1 of the Child’s Right Law of Lagos 2015.
In essence, the simple question you must always ask before any video of a child is recorded and disseminated online is: “how would such an action serve the best interest of the child? “.
ORUKPE ORUMOR Esq, email@example.com