UK diasporans hold parenting conference to discuss menace of Nigerian youth crime problem

DOZENS of Nigerians gathered in Essex yesterday for a second ever parenting conference titled Protecting our Future aimed at addressing the growing problem of youth violence and the incessant rise of the alienation of youngsters.


Organised by community activist Kemi Tomide-Johnson under the auspices of her non-governmental organisation Klimax, the event took place at the Ceme conference centre in Rainham, Essex. Among the speakers were representatives from the Metropolitan Police, the chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) and e-safety trainers.


Canuk chairman Dr Boma Douglas said: "We have more than 2m Nigerians in the UK and we at Canuk tend for the welfare of all of them. There has to be a compromise between working and making sure our children move on the right path, so we are in full support of this parenting initiative.


"For instance, we should try to know who our kids friends are and we need to look at the issue of anger among our children where they rely on someone outside to mentor them. If you have any problems in these areas, please get in touch with Canuk and we will try to support you as best as we can."


Nsikan Etuk, of the UK Nigerian Police Forum, provided guests with a grim picture of the realities of policing in London, outlining his day-to-day experiences addressing the issue of gang crime. A Metropolitan Police officer, Mr Etuk played delegates a brief video outlining the horrors of youth violence on many inner city estates across London.


Mr Etuk said: "I have been working in youth engagement for the last 11 years and I have lost people I know and have worked with through violence. It hurts when that happens, so we want to reduce violent crime and cut drug supply."


In his presentation, he listed a list of steps that could be taken including getting involved in community initiatives, attending local meetings involving statutory bodies, keeping up to date with government publications, letting people around you know what is going on and not keeping news of developments to oneself. Mr Etuk also revealed that many of the policemen in London have a human side, which was revealed in their recent response to the terrorist attack and he said it would be helpful if the youth realised this.


John Woodley from EST E-Safety Training added: "Every parent who thinks they know should think again. There's very few safe area for children on the web, as although your children may be with you physically, they may be miles away from you with a total stranger."


He and his colleague revealed how they help train parents to realise the dangers of the Internet, pointing out that most seven year olds know more about social applications than their parents. Former policemen, the founders of EST E-Safety specialise in Internet security and the prevention of sexual exploitation of young people.


Other guest speakers on the night including master of ceremonies and personal trainer Charles Khiran and Canuk first vice chairman Ronke Udofia, spoke about the need to engage youths. They both gave their experiences as parents and revealed that although it was a tough job, it was worthwhile, hence why they both agreed to be Klimax patrons.


There was a also a panel discussion at the event chaired by Abby Ojo, involving community leaders Temitope Olodo, Oluwaseyi Alabi, Chichi Ikeji, Ayodele Oshunremi and David Doherty. They spoke about the ways of connecting with Nigerian youths in the UK and getting round the difficult problem of first generation parents having to connect with their children who are British through and through.