When I heard the story of how the children in a home were made to engage in oral sex with their domestic help, many questions flashed through my mind. I was told that the doctor’s suspicion was aroused when the children’s mouth infection repeated within a short time after the first treatment was completed. Were they really all below eight years? How was the domestic help able to subdue them into obedience to such a heinous activity? Why didn’t the parents notice that something was wrong with their children’s behavioural pattern? Will it ever be possible to wipe out the memories of such abuse?
It is not a surprise that an overwhelming majority of those who abuse children are those who they look up to daily for care and attention, especially teachers and those who live with them. Such people include domestic help, friends, blood relations, neighbours and visitors. I believe that sexual abuse of children is as rampant as other forms of physical and emotional abuses. In fact, freedom of a caregiver to apply aggression on children without restriction anchors the evil of sexual abuse of children. This is because when children become overwhelmed by the extent of their unprotected exposure to be physically abused, they usually resort to submission and obedience as a strategy for mitigating such exposures.
This is why I would always boldly assert that parents cannot be in control of the parenting process of children in a home environment that is filled with persons of questionable characters, who have the freedom to inflict pain on the children in the name of training. Such persons would not stop at saturating the home environment with negative characters; they also enforce wrong thoughts and actions on children by doting on them, blackmailing them, and even punishing them under diverse guises.
Accordingly , the parental and school actions listed below communicate passion and focus on proper development of children.
- The PTA meeting of schools should demand the violent-free disciplinary approach.
Whips and all forms of corporal punishment actually predispose children to anger and rebellion. Parents ignorantly buy whips for teachers and domestic helps. Parents should not be deceived by the illusive discipline violence creates. Children may be shackled into misleading submission with coercion, but great parents choose the effective parenting approach which produces enduring results.
- The school should establish a school policy on aggression-free disciplinary measures.
Training and retraining of teachers on the ethics of teacher-children relationship should be a top priority. The school should set up a reliable monitoring structure to ensure total compliance. The use of surveillance cameras are recommended for children in the crèche, nursery and primary schools. The operation of a well-staffed inspectorate and compliance department in a school will also help. School inspectors patrol the school to monitor and enforce compliance to school policies.
- Establishment of a functional grievance procedure for children at home and the school.
It is unfortunate that adults and teachers in environments with prevalence of aggression to children are unfavourably disposed to attending to a child’s complaints about a teacher or a care giver. It is common for teachers to excommunicate such a child, and make the class uncomfortable for him/her. The child’s “offence” is usually exaggerated in the teacher’s struggle to justify a condemnable act.
- Parents should be available and close enough to perceive and appreciate the challenges of their children.
No sacrifice is too much to achieve this. Parents have been seen to give up jobs and be self employed in the interest of their children. It’s okay to adjust, earn less and be more available for the children.
Parenting is effective and without stress if the home and school environments are purified of aggressive practices and negative role models. Great parents undertake this task passionately.
-Uchenna N. Nduka
Uchenna N. Nduka