Child Rights raises concern over sexual abuse in schools

BY: Dominic Moses Awiah
Mr Bright Appiah
Mr Bright Appiah

Child Rights International (CRI), a child-centered organisation, has bemoaned the upsurge of sexual abuse in schools.

It said the development was making the learning environment unsafe for children.

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The organisation has already catalogued 60 cases of such sexual abuses in the primary, junior high schools and senior high schools in the country since the beginning of this year.

The Executive Director of CRI, Mr Bright Appiah, on a visit to some schools in parts of the country,  said information on the ground strongly suggested that most school authorities, in their attempt to use internal structures to address the situation, buried the evidence.

Some of the authorities, he said, were unwilling to report most of the cases to the police to avoid the name of their schools being soiled in the public.


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“ What makes the situation worrying is that most of the perpetrators are teachers,” he added.

Mr Appiah mentioned Ashanti, Eastern and Central regions as recording the highest number of sexual abuse cases against students.

“In the Northern regions, a lot of the cases happened in remote area schools,” he added.

Case

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Mentioning some of the cases, Mr Appiah said one of them happened at Ejusoman SHS in the Ashanti Region where a special committee, set up by the Ghana

Education Service |(GES), found eight teachers guilty of inappropriate sexual advances on female students.

He also mentioned a sexual misconduct case involving a senior house master and a student in Benkum Senior High School in the Eastern Region.

Mr Appiah further mentioned that in February, this year, a report from the Eastern Regional Disciplinary committee alleged the impregnating of a student by the head master of St Francis Senior High School.

“Another case was recorded in Wa in the Upper West Region where a court sentenced a former head teacher of Ping Basic School in Sisila East municipality to 10 years imprisonment for defiling his 10-year old pupil,” he said.

"These are some of the few cases that have been reported. Majority of them never come out in the open," he said.

He said despite all the huge investment pumped into the education sector, the behaviour of some teachers and heads of schools were making teaching and learning environment difficult for the students.

" The children's act 560, under the welfare principle, states that the wellbeing of children must be paramount at all times, therefore, the school environment meant for teaching and training of children should be safe and protected against unfit persons," Mr Appiah said.

Recommendations

Suggesting some ways to address the issue, he called on the GES to develop a child protection policy for all schools in the country.

The policy, he said, must focus primarily on putting in place structures that would protect the safety of schoolchildren.

Mr Appiah also urged the GES to audit teachers and non-teaching staff on their relationship with children, adding “ to fish out the unfit ones from the system”.