Every other day we hear of children are being tricked by people to be violated and kidnapped. That only tells me one thing: we have a shitstorm on our hands.

A few days ago I got down from the bike just at my street entrance. Just as the bike zoomed off and I was shoving my wallet into my back pocket, I felt someone behind me and looked back – nobody. Then I glanced downward to find a boy standing behind me.

“Hello,” I said, with a smile that I’m not so sure would be appealing – more like the serial killer type. Thank God it was dark. In reality, that was more like saying “Shoo”. I’m not proud to say it but at times I suck at handling kids, plus I didn’t know the boy.

He simply replied, “Uncle come and buy something for me.”

I was a bit taken aback but replied, “Do you know me?”

He said yes, “I saw you one day when you came to polish shoes with your sister at Abdullah’s place.”

That was all this kid needed to believe that he knew me. Abdullah works as a maiguard two streets away and mends shoes to pass the time and get some extra cash to spend on a daily basis.

“Where’s your mother?”

“She’s inside.”

“So if I knock you out now and whisk you into Ghana-must-go bag, your mom will start yelling that her enemies have come for her. Never ask strangers for things. It’s dangerous. Go home.”

So I watched him turn and trudge into the dark before going home.

I was bothered though. The issue wasn’t buying stuff for him, but about safety and the fact that he didn’t know it. I live in an area where there’s at least one house without a fence per street. Children scuttle around so if you’re driving and care isn’t taken, you’ll mow one down. If you manage to avoid being made an unwilling killer and blare the horn, the yeye mother who can’t watch her kid in the first place will yank the poor chump and smack away. On such occasions, I’d wish I had a frozen turkey in hand just so I can beat her silly with it.

And it’s not just children on the streets alone. You sit alone eating a snack and some errant kid comes over like a stray puppy with doe eyes looking for some. They mostly don’t talk, their eyes say it all.

My concern is this: How are parents managing their kids these days?

I’m not one, I won’t be for a few years but if I’m not gonna have my hands on deck, I won’t have children. They’re little humans, not some local fowls you leave to run around and do whatever, approach whoever and ask whatever. Mind them!

Poverty isn’t an excuse. Some pretty comfy folks miss the mark too. Something is missing; it’s like the kids don’t realise that no matter what, their parents’ got their shit handled.

In 1999, my dad’s business practically collapsed, mom was a civil servant still on Buba Marwa’s minimum wage and that won’t do jack with 4 kids. I once needed just N70 to go to school and pops didn’t have a dime. Dude went out to borrow. That was tough as hell, my dad’s a proud fella – with good reason – but he ensured I or my siblings weren’t exposed to looking elsewhere to anyone for what we needed. Mom did a lot of co-operative ish too. If we had to do extra, we did it with our parents. We were their responsibility.

Bottom line, no matter what we needed, we looked at our parents. No one else.

So what the hell is going on? It’s not isolated. Look at the case of Ese in Bayelsa and Sanusi Yellow some months ago. Look at tons of kids enticed with peanuts and kidnapped, sexually abused because while their parents probably did the best they could, something was still missing, those kids still felt it’s okay to look at neighbours, shop customers, ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ for stuff. So the crazy cycle continues.

Protect your kids, let them know you’ve got their back and if you don’t have what they want at certain times, let them know it’s okay and that it ain’t cool to look elsewhere. Trust me, you can at least do this for 18 years. If not, our children will keep being stolen, raped and wasted.

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