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 concerns 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. In this article, however, we will examine the role of educators in fighting head-on the war against child sexual violence.
Educators play a vital role in preventing, identifying and treating child sexual abuse. For one thing, educators have close and consistent contacts with children who are pupils/students of their schools. In fact, children are bound to spend more time with their teachers than their parents – especially if their parents have busy schedules. School is therefore particularly well-suited for identifying endangered children, including those who are being sexually abused. According to a recent research conducted on some US schools, “school personnel are the source of over 50% of the abuse reports made by professionals to the authorities”. Apparently, school personnel are in a better position to advocate for children and provide programs and services that can help children and strengthen families. Thus, educators have a significant role in curbing child sexual abuse.
One of the primary aims of education is to teach. In order to achieve this goal, it is the responsibility of educators to remove all barriers that impede a child’s ability to learn. The trauma and residual effects of child abuse and neglect are barriers to learning as much as any type of academic or physical impediment that schools often spend so much time addressing. Therefore, educators should have a keen sense of their professional responsibility to the children in their care; they should be concerned about the health, safety, and happiness of these children. Educators’ professional standard require that they do what is best for the children in their care – including protecting them from sexual abuse - in order to aid the children’s learning process. Apart from their professional responsibilities to pupils, educators are personally committed to the welfare of children. It is this sense of personal responsibility to and for children in their care that should motivate educators to become involved in the prevention and intervention of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is a complex subject that all Educators should be well trained on at the point of entry into the teaching profession and subsequently. Currently, hardly do educators receive child sexual abuse training because many of our teachers are non-education graduates. This should be addressed! Schools should employ professionals and trainers of teachers should include child abuse education in the training coursework. Child abuse training for school staffers is inevitable if educators must win the battle against child sexual violence. It is also very crucial that a school work hand in hand with child right experts so as to ensure that members of staff are well trained and enlightened on issues pertaining to the protection of the children in their care. Educators should be in the know of the various forms of sexual abuses; how to train children to resist sexual abusers on their own; and how to address cases of perpetuated sexual abuse. It is of utmost importance that school staffers are trained and re-trained on sexual abuse; the immediate and long term effect of sexual abuse are enormous and unpalatable and training of educators to identify such threats is invaluable in curbing it.
It is extremely disturbing for parents, students and fellow educators to consider that an educator who is saddled with the responsibility of protecting students might be abusing them. In the event that this does occur, protection of the child should be the school’s paramount concern. If a child reports that he or she is being sexually abused by a school personnel, the educator (whom the victim has reported to) should remember that it takes courage for an abused child to report such act. The educator (whom the victim child reports to) should follow school policy and procedures which may involve interviewing the child and referring the allegations to law enforcement agents. Protocols should require immediate notiﬁcation of the school management team. Should the abuser be found guilty of the act, proportionate sanctions should be given by the appropriate body. All of these actions should be communicated to the PTA and all others concerned. Issues of child abuse by an educator should never be politicized! It has been observed that schools whose staff have been accused of abusing students are often more concerned about protecting their school’s image than protecting the children in their care. While a school should protect her image, the wellbeing of the children should be of paramount importance to educators and administrators.
To win the child sexual abuse war, it is crucial that educators teach children their own roles as individuals who have a responsibility to protect themselves from danger. Sexuality, genitals or a child’s interest in their own body should not be cast in a negative light. Educators should encourage an open discussion about sexual abuse as sexual offenders rarely choose self-confident children because they know that they are less prone to victimisation, and will more readily stop abuse attempts and report them. In this light, there are many safety tips that can help children to more easily identify, prevent and stop abuse. Parents and teachers must pass these on according to the child’s cognitive capacity. Rather than frighten children, this will increase their ability to identify risk, model proper strategies and boost their courage to take action.
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 management 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.
Thanks a million for this article. I am gl9 to inform you that in my schools, we have so created the awareness in our kids so much so that they watch out not only for themselves but gator other kids around them. This we did by camping the girls or boys separately on different term breaks, there were teach with films on the dangers of abuse, how to identify these predators and empowered them to take their stand as we have a Lawyer who handles such matters also come to boost their courage. In our parties, we always have a segment dedicated to talk shows, drama or debate on the same topic. We can never over-emphasise this as the so called predators take advantage of timid and ignorant children . A lot of parents do not talk to their kids about the maturity and use of the various parts of their bodies , but that is where to really begin from.
Whatever kind of school we find our self, we must drive this and inculcate the teaching of SEXUAL ABUSE AWARENESS into our school curriculum.