Many vital players must work together towards ending Gender Based Violence. For instance, you and me. But while we may not all be trained or attend conferences on how we can stop Gender-Based Violence we can only stick to understanding the basics and play our roles within our physical reach. However, there are other key players who are crucial to this field. And No, am not talking about doctors, or lawyers. Am talking about Teachers. Regardless of whether it’s a Nursery or as I hear these days they are known as Early Childhood Educators or Primary and Secondary School teacher, they are vital players towards ending child abuse and other forms of Gender-Based Violence. I will not talk about University lecturers as those handle an entirely different group of people whereas these others are the people around the early days of child growth and development hence it’s necessary that they are sensitized on Gender-Based Violence.
For as long as I have known about Gender Based Violence, I have noted that almost 40% of cases of abused Children are occasionally reported by teachers. In as much as most of these teachers report these cases, it is noted that they do not know how to handle the victim who in this case is not only a victim of interest but also is regarded as a ‘crime scene,’ especially in Sexual Abuse. Allow me to go back to some basics of forensic Management, a fascinating topic I might add. To begin with, when a crime has happened, the scene of that crime is usually preserved to ensure that no one tampers. Same goes for victims of abuse, they are a crime scene and thus, should not be tampered. As such, the victims are not allowed to eat, shower or change clothes or if they do it should be bagged according to the set standards. Failure to do this, significant evidence is discarded and lost. Out of the number of teachers who report violence and accompany children to the hospital, only very few know how to preserve a crime scene which is the child victim. In this light, it is without a doubt that teachers need to be educated on this issue so that they can not only report the crime but also know how to preserve the evidence that will help get justice for the abused child.
Time and Again teachers have been known to focus on academic excellence. While this may have changed today, in my days you had to do well academically regardless of your situation, so long as you were on School grounds you had no excuse for performing poorly. I have been talking with teachers from different Schools even in remote areas, and they all agree that Gender Violence is a looming factor towards a child’s poor performance. Though this may be true that they agree on the relation between poor performance and Gender-based violence, a large number of them do not know that. Some teachers are so focused on academic excellence that they never try to understand what really could be the reason behind poor performance. A child can have all the resource at their disposal, but so long as they are being abused, they cannot perform. In my previous article, https://letstalkgendersite.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/dear-parents-this-is-how-you-know-your-child-is-being-abused/ , I highlighted some tale-tell-signs of abused children. Teachers have the upper hand in knowing when a child is being abused because they spend so much time with children and they know how each behaves. When a child does not perform well, there are a lot of factors that contribute to that, and as a teacher, instead of reprimanding them or making them do extra work (which is good) it would be appropriate if you first find out if violence or any form of abuse is a contributing factor.
Recently, there was an incident in Nakuru County about a male teacher who was engaging in sexual activity with his class six male student. More detail on that is on https://letstalkgendersite.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/i-found-my-10-year-old-son-sexting-his-male-science-teacher/ .These is just among the many Student-Teacher incidents that make up 60% of reported Gender-Based Violence Sexual Offence cases. A large number of this kind of situations are never reported. Some of those which are reported, they are done so when it’s too late. Due to that, many young children are impregnated or in other worst case scenario the child is infected with an STI. As a result, they are forced to drop out of school early and are traumatized because those responsible for it disappear to avoid dealing with the law. But then there are those 16-year olds who for some reasons think that they have a right to consent and so they willingly engage in sexual behavior with their teachers. I call this ignorance because we know the law states that the consent age is 18 years old. If a teacher engages in an unhealthy relationship with a student, my question is where all these other teachers are. Where are they when this kind of behavior is happening right under their nose? Its time teachers also police other teachers because for a fact there are many cases of children being molested and sexually abused by their teachers. In addition to that, teachers need to be taken through the Sexual Offences Act so that they dare not form unhealthy relationships with their students.
All this considered, it is without a doubt that teachers play a vital role in ending child abuse and child violence in that capacity. Thus it is important to recognize that they can do so much towards ending violence when they are properly educated on the issue. They are the ones who spend more time with children than any other person hence we cannot fail to sensitize them and expect a positive outcome.