Sexual abuse in schools: it's causes and prevention

Sexual abuse in schools has become a cause for concern. The percentage of sexually abused school children, in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions has been on the increase in recent time. This act has attracted the likes of many organizations with the aim of tackling and reducing the frequent occurrence of such immoral act.


Child sexual abuse is generally defined by law as any sexual behaviour involving a person under the age of consent – usually 18 years and above. Younger children have reported situations where their teachers or school owners tell them to expose their genitals, showing them sexual images, touching their private parts as well as having sex with them.










In schools, sexual involvement of a staff person with any student, regardless of age, is likely to be prohibited by school policy, teacher registration rules, and sometimes also by law. Many of these teachers and school owners still violate this law and move freely.


As a matter of fact, Child sexual abuse exploits and degrades children which can cause serious damage to cognitive, social, and emotional development of a child. As a society, we have a collective responsibility to prevent child sexual abuse. To accomplish this, we must initiate and support services and policies that enhance children’s development, health and safety and we must advocate for policies and programs to help meet the basic needs of children and families.


So many factors could be responsible for the abuse of a child. These factors evolve from the end of both the abuser and the victim:



- children from poor family back ground with the desire to get more

- children from broken homes where they lack the important parenting care

- children who lack the knowledge of sexual abuse

- children with large desire, even though their parents are rich

- children with nonchalant attitude to studies. The desire to get better grades without reading

- children with enormous freedom

- abusers with the lack of knowledge of the effects of abuse

- abusers who just want to satisfy their sexual desires

- abusers with a little of mental instability. It has been confirmed that a person with his or her right senses will not engage in abusing young children

- abuser with power to make uncontrollable decisions


A child could have the following effects after being sexually abused:


A child may exhibit regressive behaviors (e.g., thumb-sucking and bed-wetting in younger children), sleep disturbances, eating problems, behavior and/or performance problems at school, and unwillingness to participate in school or social activities. Parents or observers should get worried when a child feels these ways.


A sexually abused child could have anxiety-related, self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse, anxiety attacks and insomnia.


A child may also show fear and anxiety in response to people who share characteristics of the abuser, i.e., the same sex as the abuser or similar physical characteristics. Victims may experience difficulties in adult relationships and adult sexual functioning when they grow up.

A child may feel anger at the abuser, at adults who failed to protect them, and at themselves for not having been able to stop the abuse.


Children may feel betrayed and an inability to trust adults because someone they depended on has caused them great harm or failed to protect them.

Children may feel powerless because the abuse has repeatedly violated their body space and acted against their will through coercion and manipulation. This will as a result affect their self - esteem.


Children who are abused can also suffer from serious medical conditions if the abuser is infected. Also, many of them feel stigmatized which affects their prosperous ways of life.

An abused child could commit suicide if he or she couldn't take it anymore. Some of them prefer to die than to go on with the act.


Child sexual abuse can be prevented as follows:


Raising awareness of the unacceptability of child sexual abuse, and promoting the notion that stopping child sexual abuse is everyone’s responsibility.

If the society at large have the same mentality as regards to the strong unacceptability of sexual abuse, this act will be reduced in schools.


Educating the public, especially policymakers, about the true nature of child sexual abuse. The government and the policy makers should be given frequent education on the harmful effects of sexual abuse. This can help make policies that can seriously tackle or punish the offender. An abuser will definitely have a second thought if he or she sees that the punishment if caught will be severe and executed.


Rigorously evaluating and strengthening existing child sexual abuse prevention programs. The frequent visit to schools to talk about the dangers of sexual abuse could make children open up and also help them to recognize abuses. Many of them might not be aware that they are being abused if not given an orientation.


Shifting the prevention of child sexual abuse from children to adults. Adults are also responsible to assist in preventing this act. A child might not be strong enough to rescue himself or herself from such act, therefore, responsible adults should be vigilant to observe such and take appropriate actions immediately.


Making mental health services available to all those affected by child sexual abuse.

Children who have been sexually abused may face severe and long-term psychological consequences. Mental health services, especially if timely, can help ease some of these consequences. They also may help stop the inter generational transmission of child sexual abuse. Mental health services to those engaging in abusive behavior can help them address stressors that often lead to sexual abuse, helping end such abuse.


Diverting to training of adults against sexual abuse. Not only the children but the adults also need to be trained. They need to be exposed to the emotional, medical and psychological conditions an abused child gets at the end. Many of these abusers are not aware of the side effects, they only consider themselves. Exposing adults to these effects could change the mind of a sexual abuser.

Voice out, even when the abuser is your relative. Many people have been unfaithful in this regard. They encourage abusers by not reporting them even when they are aware of his or her deeds. They keep covering up and at the same time, destroying the lives of younger children. Tackling this act rest in the collective effort of everybody.


Parental care


Parents should be available at all time to monitor and speak with their children. Many parents leave their children in the hands of house helps which is very discouraging. A mother should be ready to mold a child by sacrificing her time. Many children go through a lot but because their parents are not available to talk to, they go astray.


Child sexual abuse has become a cause for concern. Many children are presently going through a lot. The job of tackling this abuse is not for one person, it is a collective job that has to executed by the parents, government, policy makers, mental health organizations, non- governmental organisations and the society at large.

Mental health education and campaign

Children and adolescents in Nigeria and Africa lack knowledge of mental health problems. Oasis of Love center educates children, adolescents, youth and women on the risk of living with mental health problems and how to recognize the signs and symptoms and to seek help in our organiganization.

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