Sexual abuse of children especially the girl child is a recurrent theme in discourses of domestic violence and other social ills. In recent times however, such concern have witnessed a surge consequent of frequent reports - via the internet - of multifarious villainous acts against children. Some argue that the recent surge does not indicate an overall increase in incidences of sexual abuse of children but an aftermath of the citizen’s increased accessibility to and interaction with modern technology and internet. While such assertions may not be devoid of veracity, it remains a fact that child sexual abuse is a hazardous risk children face today. It is estimated that 1 in 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse, and the consequences of this abuse can be devastating to the wellbeing of the nation at large. Hence, in fighting this menace, government, communities, parents, teachers and educators should all be front liners. This article highlights six ways educators and even parents can fight head-on the war against child sexual violence.
1) “You own your body”
Educators should teach children that their body is their own and no one can touch it without permission. Establishing open and direct communication at a very early age about sexuality and “private body parts”, using the correct names for genitals and other parts of the body, will help children understand what is and what is not allowed for adults in contact with them. This will also help them recognise sexually abusive behavior.
2) Safe and unsafe touching.
Educators should teach children the difference between safe and unsafe body parts touching. Tell children it is not okay if someone looks at or touches their private parts or asks them to look at or touch someone’s private parts, and that inappropriate touches are wrong and against the law.
3) “Say no! Go! Tell!”
Children should be taught and trained to instantly and firmly say “No” to inappropriate physical contacts, to get away from unsafe situations and to tell a trusted adult until they are listened to and believed, and until measures are taken to restore their safety.
4) A bad secret and a good secret.
Educators should teach children the difference between a bad secret and a good one (a surprise). Secrecy is a main tactic of sexual abusers. Every secret that makes them anxious, uncomfortable, fearful or depressed is not good and should not be kept but reported to a trustworthy adult.
5) The offender is a known person/stranger
It is hard for young children to understand that someone who knows them could abuse them. Educators should encourage children to regularly inform their parents about someone who gives gifts, asks children to keep a secret or tries to spend time alone with them. They should also teach children safety rules: instruct them never to get into a car with anyone they do not know, nor to accept gifts or invitations to someone’s home without their parent’s permission.
6) Safety code
Educators should encourage children to have phone numbers of trusted adult both within the child’s family and outside as part of their safety code. They should be encouraged to select adults whom they trust, are available and ready to listen and help when needed. Children should know how to seek help from a network member. If children are clear about how to do this, it is probable that they will do so if necessary. It should be a rule to seek help until the problem has been resolved and the child’s safety re-established.
In conclusion, Educators play a vital role in preventing, identifying and treating child sexual abuse. It is important that they promote healthy friendships and relationships through their whole school ethos, child protection and behaviour policy. A commitment from all staff and administrator of the school to deal with the issue of child sexual exploitation is needed to ensure that the war against child sexual abuse is won.
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