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Don’t engage children in fasting, all-night services — Dept. of Children

BY: From Alberto Mario Noretti, HO
Churches should have child policies to monitor, protect and promote the interest of children.

The Department of Children has advised parents not to force children to take part in fasting or all-night services.

“While it is safe for children to be closer to their parents at night and not be left alone at home, it may not be in the best interest of the child to stay awake all night long,” said the Volta Regional Director of the Department of Children, Mr Israel Akrobortu.

He entreated churches to have designated sleeping areas for children who accompany their parents to their premises for all-night prayer sessions.

Mr Akrobortu, who was speaking in an interview in Ho, said an all-night gathering in the church may be too stressful for an underage child who may turn up in school sleepy the next morning.

Mr Akrobortu said it was prudent for parents to inculcate Godly values in their children but maintained that spiritual exercises in the church must also take into consideration the age, health and other conditions of the child.

He, therefore, suggested to churches to have child policies to monitor, protect and promote the interest of children.

“For instance, there is no point keeping a child who is suffering from a health problem awake all night because that child needs rest at night,” Mr Akrobortu stressed.

On fasting, he said it was a normal spiritual exercise in some churches.

However, Mr Akrobortu insisted that a child must not be coerced into fasting if he or she is unwilling to do so.

He said fasting may not be good for a child who is suffering from stomach ulcer, malaria or other health conditions.

Mr Akrobortu noted that the child had the right to an opinion and for that matter, the child must not be forced into all-night prayer sessions and fasting if he or she was not willing to do so.

He urged parents and church leaders to introduce such spiritual exercises to children gradually and expect them to embrace them in their own time.

Meanwhile, the Ho Municipal Director of Health Services, Ms Victoria Kpelly entreated parents and church leaders not to impose fasting on children without taking their ages and health conditions into account.

She explained that, while fasting for a few hours may not be harmful to an overweight child, it may be damaging to an underweight child.

“A child who is suffering from stomach ulcer or dizziness may be exposed to a greater health problem if he or she is forced to endure hunger for a long period,” Ms Kpelly added.

She said a gradual approach to fasting may be more appropriate for a growing child, who may decide on his or her own to fast without being forced to do so.