Stakeholders canvass monitoring after school hours to curb sexual abuse
• Security agent wants immediate report of cases
Often, reports of pupils sexually abused by their teachers crop up from various part of the country, with the accusers, most of the times, going scot-free. GOODLUCK CHIMUANYA NATHAN, in this report, looks at ways through which the menace could be curbed, if not totally eliminated.
Some months ago, a 10-year-old pupil of a private primary school in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos State, surprised her parents after she was caught caressing and kissing her brother’s manhood.
The young girl, after being caught in the abominable act, claimed her teacher, taught her the act. The minor said that one of her teachers had taught her about lovemaking and that the practice had been going on for some months.
According to reports, further investigation by the police revealed that two teachers had sexually abused the girl before then. The victim’s mother said, “She has not been eating well and has been crying every time; my baby has suffered trauma. I noticed my daughter was kissing her brother’s manhood. When I asked her where she learnt that from, she started shivering and claimed that it was nothing.
“I took her inside like a mother would do, then she opened up that it was actually what she viewed on her teacher’s laptop. So, I asked her for more details. She said when the lesson was over; the teacher would play pornographic videos for her to watch. And after that, he would start caressing her until he penetrates her with his manhood and fingers.”
This is just one of the several cases of child molestation by people, who are supposed to be custodian of the children at schools, homes and even in the churches. This, however, worries many stakeholders, who have suggested that schools should design monitoring or supervisory scheme during and after school hours to ensure pupils are well secured.
This is even as they affirmed that there are several cases of child sexual abuse going on in the society as they are hardly reported. Even when reported, they are often neglected and swept under the carpet due to stigmatisation that follows.
According to available statistics, “child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal process of reporting can be difficult.
According to The Guardian checks, “child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbour, child care person, teacher, or stranger.”When sexual abuse has occurred, a child can develop many distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It was gathered that no child is prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from problems coping with the overstimulation.
Managing Director of Loral International Primary and Secondary School, Festac Town, Lagos, Crawford Ndukwe, while discussing the issue with The Guardian hinted that child sexual abuse is an ill wind that blows nobody good. He said, first and foremost, schools should endeavour to do a background check/test on teachers before their recruitment, even as he suggested close monitoring and supervision during and after school hours.
According to him, “One of the things we do is to engage qualified and professional teachers. Such group of teachers hardly have time for wrongdoings. We also check their religious background and request for referees, and we must be familiar with the person who must attest in writing the suitability of that fellow to be a staff of our school.
“We are on top of the situation as expectations from parents are very high, so we don’t recruit people we cannot vow for their sanity, civility and behaviour. The rest is monitoring. We have complaint boxes where students can air their views. In the past we fired one teacher because her questionable relationship with the students. She always buys things for them especially for one particular boy, so it was obvious that it is more than magnanimity.
“So we investigated her and find out she was moving inches towards having sexual relationship with that particular student so we discharged her from her duty without wasting of time. We are very alert in respect to that, anybody who brings a child here is certain there will be no sexual harassment.”
Urging schools to mark the teachers thoroughly to ensure they are always at their duty post doing their assigned duties, he charged parents parents to watch their children closely to able to observe any unusual or suspicious behaviour or movement.
“Teachers must be regularly monitored especially after school hour. They must be made to behave in a very civilised manner when dealing with students. No excessive care on the part of students and they should not be allowed to dress in provocative manner, else students will forget the subject matter and be admiring the teacher or abusing what the teacher is wearing, so there must be decency at all times,” Ndukwe cautioned.
For Mrs. Ethel Ihuoma Onwubu, a parent and vice principal, schools should counsel their students particularly females to avoid being too close or in a secluded place with their male teachers. “They should discourage every form of intimacy as that often leads to sexual abuse. Some of these students might have challenging issues and innocently confide in their teachers who shamelessly abuse the confidence reposed on them.
“There is also need for mothers among the teachers to regularly move around the school premises to monitor pupils and their teachers and also supervise daily activities going on within the school especially after school hours. That is the time when such acts are mostly committed. So every movement within the school must be closely monitored. If for any reason student want to stay behind the school authority must ensure safety of such children. The principals and the teachers must know everything that is going on at every particular time within the school. So constant monitoring is key to reducing if not ending the menace.”
Also, a guidance and counselling expert, Mrs Okoye Ifeyinwa says, schools must ensure there is a limit between teacher/student relationship. “When you have teachers and pupils from different homes and background such immoral act is bound to happen. There is high level of immorality in our society presently; parents, schools and government have roles to play.
“Children must be made to understand the tricks of such predators and the need to speak out. Teachers and parents must avoid anything that will stimulate sexual act in schools and even at home. While in school, management must ensure pupils kept in their custody are safe by monitoring the kids and the teachers; at homes, parents should watch out for silly relatives and uncles and ensure their children are not left in the care of such individuals, the same applies even in churches.”
However, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Assistant Superintendent of Police, Famous Cole, said cases of sexual abuse is not strange to them but the only unfortunate thing is that victims hardly speaks out.
On the figure of reported cases, he said, “I cannot be able to give you an accurate figure of such cases because most of these cases are not reported at all to the police and some do report it very late sometimes weeks or months after the incident took place.
“Some of the victim that don’t report their ordeal, do so sometimes because of some cultural belief or family background. They got carried away with the so called stigma they will face after bringing such cases to the police, but they forget that the police will keep such cases confidential and also protect their image while bringing down the suspect.
“I will advise victim of such cases or their parents to report to the nearest police division as early as possible regardless of what people may say. This will enable the police to do proper investigation and gather evidences, which will be used to prosecute the suspect if found guilty. But reporting the case late might distort the evidence that might be gathered.”
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