An increasing rate of the population of young people globally in developing countries indicates that the burden of National development in developing countries is increasingly becoming a huge responsibility for young people. This increasing population is also not void of challenges. Violence and crime are major features in the discussion of this becoming a category that often undermines their potentials and rights consequentially creating significant social and economic costs to societies. Nevertheless, young people are a valuable asset to their countries and investing in them brings tremendous social and economic benefits.
Many young people approach adulthood faced with conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender. This is often exacerbated by embarrassment, silence, and disapproval of open discussion of sexual matters by adults, including parents and teachers, at the very time when it is most needed. Few young people receive adequate preparation for their sexual lives. This leaves them vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
Globally, reproductive health issues of girls and women and gender-based violence directed at them have received more attention than those of boys and men; but not without good reasons. Men and women are indispensable partners in sexual relationships, marriage and family building. Still, the sexual and reproductive health needs of men beyond their roles as women’s partners have received little attention
In 2016, DSVRT conducted a research on incarcerated, male sex offenders in Lagos State, Nigeria to provide a plausible means of unravelling the tactics used by sex offenders through profiling. It was however deduced that 89 of the male sex offenders which amounts to 80.9% of the study participants had been sexually abused as a child implying that they had become sexually active at an early age. This illustrates the trend of “The abused-abuser”. Some inmates lost their virginity to family members and older acquaintances who took advantage of them during their early teenage years (DSVRT, 2016).
Rates of physical violence by male intimate partners against young women are also high. In multi-country studies, nearly 20% of women say their first sexual experience was forced. United Nations estimates show that globally 30% of women suffer physical violence at least once from a male partner. Moreover, rates of current physical violence are higher in the 15– 19 year age group, compared with older women ages 20–49 years old. Although the global community has focused greater attention on GBV in recent years, levels of violence against women remain unchanged (UN General Assembly, 2006).
Recent statistics reveal that in Nigeria today, 1 in 8 boys would have experienced at least one violent encounter before the age of 18 and 61% of the affected boys do not know where to seek services. Similarly, the majority of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence crimes are perpetrated by boys who grow up to be men.
Intervention and Outcomes
In light of this, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), (which metamorphosed into the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) in September 2021) as part of its work plan for 2018, embarked on a timely intervention titled “The Kings Club… Promoting Positive Masculinity”
The ultimate objective of The Kings Club project is to create a sustainable social structure in educational institutions that will help debunk socio-cultural misconceptions, promote positive masculinity, and bring about behavioural and attitudinal change in the minds of young boys in Lagos State.
To this end, we sought to constitute an alliance of trained young boys in schools who would serve as peer educators and advocates of positive masculinity by partnering with the Ministry of Education to roll out programs, in the 6 Education Districts across the State.
Below are the outcomes following the implementation of the establishment of the Kings Club Project in all Education Districts across the State:
- A total of 600 boys, (100 boys from each district) have been trained, certified and inducted into the Kings Club, Lagos. (10 boys were selected from 10 schools per district).
- These groups of boys are currently serving as pioneer members of the club in their respective schools, and they keep admitting new members in their various meetings held during their co-curricular period in school.
- Positive feedback from schoolteachers and counsellors about the attitudinal and behavioural changes have been noticed and recorded amongst the trained boys in their various schools. This has led to new students interested in being members of the club
- Over the last few years, the project has been able to see tremendous growth from over 600 boys trained to now over 2500 boys who have joined the club and are waiting to be officially inducted into the club.
- The project took a step further to train, certify and induct over 122 Teachers and Counsellors across all districts in the state, who are currently patrons in their various schools.
- Follow-up is ongoing in the various education districts. This is to monitor the activities of the boys even as some Kings Club members in some schools have started to train their peers which is also the goal of the project.
- As part of the sustainability plans of the Kings Club Project, the Kings Club members have begun to meet with male mentors.
- During the mentorship sessions, the mentors host the Kings in their spaces, they share their experiences, underscore some of the salient modules in the KC curriculum, including CONSENT, GENDER EQUALITY and their ROLES AS PROTECTORS NOT ABUSERS, transitioning from BOYS TO MEN,and ultimately, inspire them to dream big.
We remain committed to the sustainability of this initiative. We hope to establish the Kings Club in at least 100 schools in each Education District, before the end of Y 20224. We also hope to have some private schools embrace this project.
Kings Club…. Promoting Positive Masculinity