Schools must have policies on sexual violence — Dr Dwamena-Aboagye

BY: By Rebecca Kwei
Dr (Mrs) Angela Dwamena-Aboagye
Dr (Mrs) Angela Dwamena-Aboagye

The Executive Director of the Ark Foundation, Dr (Mrs) Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, has called on all schools in Ghana to come up with regulations and policies on sexual violence in order to raise awareness and educate students about the issue.

 Additionally, such a policy would reduce the risk of sexual violence incidents in schools, respond to the needs of survivors as well as outline the process of making reports or complaints for investigation, she said.  

She further said that there must be trained teachers who would be able to identify children going through abuse for the necessary action to be taken to protect them.

She noted that child sexual abuse occurred all over the world, but the difference between Ghana and other countries was that regulations and laws in those countries worked, adding that there were a lot of preventive information and education available.

“In other countries, children are taught what is good and bad touching; there is public education on sexual abuse and doctors and the police know what to do in case of abuse,” she pointed out.

She further said that policies put in place should clearly spell out what was acceptable and what was not, including procedures on how to handle any form of violence in school, as well as referrals to the police.

Dr  Dwamena-Aboagye noted that in some countries, there were sexual abuse policies in schools from primary to the tertiary level but that was not available in Ghana, although some tertiary institutions had some sexual harassment policies.

She said in countries where sanctions for abuse had been put in place, a teacher knew what to expect before he or she got employed in a school.

The executive director said there was the need for commitment by government to make the laws on child protection work.

Additionally, she said, it was important for the various bodies working on child protection to coordinate their activities to make them more effective.

“If there is no coordination among the various systems and structures, each one will be doing its bit in its corner and there will be no sharing and monitoring,” she added.

She recalled that from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, there were a lot of activities on child protection and that helped to create awareness of abuse and education on sexual abuse.

However, she said, awareness of abuse and education on violence against children had gone down considerably and urged the public not to give up but do the little they could to educate people on all forms of child abuse.

She called on parents also to learn about sexual violence so that they would be able to know what to do in such instances.

Dr Dwamena-Aboagye was, however, worried about the large illiterate population of parents who might not think that their children could be sexually abused.