Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Child abuse, it continues to rear its ugly head

Ever picked up an infant and tossed them into the air? They scream in glee and delight and await to fall safely back into the loving arms of their parent. That is clear unadulterated innocence, the innocence of not knowing the world of existing possibilities and scenarios that could land the child on the side walk with their brains smeared on the pavement. The parent could drop dead, have some kind of seizure or simply step aside and let the baby fall.

That is the kind of innocence that allows a child to blindly follow an elder into a secluded space without a single worry, not knowing the kind of sick perversion that comes with adulthood. The sad reality is that there are those adults who will take advantage of this innocence and proceed to violate boys and girls in every grotesque way possible.

The unfortunate incident which allegedly took place at Hillcrest Primary School where a 10 year old girl is said to have been ‘fondled’ by her teacher is not an isolated one and it is actions like these that constitute to this national pandemic.

When speaking on the ‘Hillcrest Primary School saga’ team leader at Men and Boys for Gender Equality Desmond Lunga applauded the school administration for taking immediate action by suspending the teacher and making the public aware of his alleged actions. “This kind of abuse happens all the time in public schools but it is swept under the rug.”

Lunga went on to challenge government to follow suit by naming and shaming the perpetrators to stop this atrocious cycle. He further stated that since the teacher had previously been implicated in a similar offence, it is imperative that schools conduct thorough background checks on their teachers before hiring them in order to protect the children.

Last year, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development released statistics that they have at least 16 primary school going girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy and 126 at Junior high school level. On average, these ages range between 10 and 16 and one might wonder who is sleeping with these girls?

Are they reported? And what is the system doing about it? The Botswana Children’s Act of 2009 defines a child as: ‘any person who is below the age of 18 years.” The document goes on to state that, “harm” in relation to a child, includes any form of harm or ill-treatment inflicted deliberately on a child, and assaulting a child; sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused. In order to safeguard the sentiments echoed by this document it needs to start where the child spends the most hours a day of their life, that is the school.

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