While taking a walk on Oxford Street, Accra, I got to a junction that I needed to cross, was about to do so when my attention was drawn to a car parked at the junction. It was just another driver on the road; what caught my attention was a girl who I would say should be about 11(eleven) to 12 (twelve) years old looking into the parked car. I paused to observe the scenario because I quickly suspected that this was a situation where this girl needed to say “NO!”
There was another man in the passenger seat who kept gesturing to the girl, encouraging her that they were headed in her direction. She kept mouthing the words, “I’m not going there.”
After watching for a while, I decided to continue on my walk because I actually had get to my destination on time, but prayed inwardly for the girl to make the right decision. I saw the car speed past me and tried to get a glimpse of the back seat, watching out for the girl. When I couldn’t tell, I shrugged and moved on.
Suddenly, the girl walked past me! “Whoa!” I screamed inwardly, “Yes!”
I picked up my pace leveling up to her and struck up a conversation:
“Hi, they were disappointed right?”
“Huh?” She asked, puzzled.
“Those guys in the car.” I responded.
With a big smile, “Oh yes! Yes!”
“Do you know them?” I continued.
Shaking her head vehemently, “No, no.”
I smiled brightly , “Then you made the right choice by saying NO!”
“Thank you ma,” the young Ghanaian girl replied.
“You are welcome, and please always say NO!”
As a Public Health Consultant and health worker, I have come across children who are paying for the consequences of not saying NO! In some cases, the consequences are not redeemable like a
sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, reduced morals, rape, the list goes on and on.
INSIGHT: Often, the consequence of a moment of recklessness could be a lifetime of regret.
Even as you take steps to protect yourself from abuse (whether you’re a boy or a girl) by reporting anyone that poses a threat to you be it a respected uncle, aunt, cousin, family friend or
a complete stranger. It is also important that you learn how to say, “NO!” Say it forcefully and vehemently. Scream it out loud if you have to. Be consistent about it and be persistent.
A word for those who have not said “NO!” in the past:
Don’t fret or feel bad or sorry for yourself. There will always be opportunities to do so, and we always have the choice to let go of the past and begin afresh.
It does not matter where you’re at right now, because no matter where you’re at, there is always someone in much more worse situation; what matters is making most of your situation. Become positive and optimistic, because there is always a way out.
Article by Becky Ediale. Becky manages a blog –Simply4teens. She is an MSc Public Health , A Social Impact Investor