Lot of research has been going on about the rippling effect of child abuse on the society. Gelles (1980) noted that children who were subjected to abuse become the abusers and perpetrators of crimes tomorrow. Some young people are being driven into prostitution, armed robbery, murder and other social vices right in front of our eyes through diverse abuses.
On April 1st , 2012, an online report from the ghanasoccernet.com, referenced an article from myjoyonline.com title “Headmaster, teachers accused of sexually abusing students at Shama”. In the article, the people of Shama in the Western region of Ghana were furious about the abuse of student by teachers in their community Junior High School. The assemblyman of the area wrote to the Ghana Education service to suspend those teachers because most of the students who were being abused were stopping the school. Six girls who the teachers and headmaster were persistent on having sex with them have stopped schooling and the general performance of the school has drastically reduced. In Ahanta West District in the same region at that the same time had recorded the defilement of two primary pupils by Junior High School teacher and one of which was forced by the teacher to attempt abortion that failed.
It seems this was the only drastic case but it is not. Peace Fm also recorded on its online news board on the 5th of July, 2015 (which is very recent) the impregnation of ten (10) junior high school students by two (2) teachers in the Volta region of Ghana. Joy FM on myjoyonline, reported the assault of a student by the then headmaster of Okaikrom D/A JHS. The headmaster with a teacher humiliated the student by inspection of her private part on suspicion that she was pregnant.
To list, I can list series of cases where children have been abused and little or nothing has been done about that. This is few out of the numerous cases reported.
Child Abuse cannot be overemphasized. It is an epidemic that must never be treated with impunity. There are different forms of child abuse and before I go on to discuss the various challenges we are facing in the communities and the proposed solutions, I would like to briefly state them and explain.
Types of Child Abuse
Physical abuse consists of deliberate aggressive action towards a child that inflicts pain or attempts to do so. In Ghana, most parents physically abuse their children in justification of punishment. Although some cases are reported, majority are not reported for fear of other forms of abuses. Other perpetrators of this abuse are the teachers of our institutions especially at the lower levels. They subject students to so much physical abuse to the point that some students get scared with the mere mention of going to school. This we think is unacceptable and every member of the community should make sure that every child is protected from physical abuse.
Emotional Abuse/Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse as defined by Wikipedia, refers also to as psychological violence, emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In Ghana and most areas in Africa, children are the most abused emotionally. This is because most of the parent are even ignorant about emotional abuse. They feel they own the kids and have the mandate to tell them whatever they feel like telling them or treat them anyhow they want to treat them. Dominant among the set of kids at the end of this form abuse are children who live with foster parents or relatives other than parents. Children who are delicate and must be protected, are rather being subjected to pain and frustration.
Child sexual abuse or child molestation according to Wikipedia is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. It also includes activities that arouse the sexual desires of a minor. Strangely, eight out of ten children who are sexually abused know their abusers. These could be teachers, parents, friends of parents, uncles, aunties, maids, house servants etc. Why should kids be subjected to this kind of treatment is the question that always bumps up when we hear of such inhumane acts. The kids who are subjected to this trauma lives with the stress throughout their entire lives. Though the children might not be able to tell us, it is our responsibility as their care takers to find out what people are doing to them and diligent citizens is focused on helping parents and societies master this responsibility.
Neglect is a form of child maltreatment where the child is denied physical, health care, supervision, nutrition, emotional, educational and/or safe home. Surprisingly, Child neglect is based on social and parental perceptions and not on the behavior of the adults themselves. This means that that by informing the members are the community level, we should be able to deal with this case.
What Are We Saying
Now that we know the various types of abuses, the next question is, why are we so interested in child abuse. The answer is simple. If we all decide to stop it, we can. Those who perpetrate these acts are our brothers, sisters, friends, fathers, mothers, mates and family members. We can stop them by bringing them to the light. Why cover the act of an adult who wants to destroy the life of an innocent child forever. We want to join hands with you if you have been abused before or have children or believe in stopping child abuse so we can end it forever.