Thursday, April 08, 2010

Child Abuse-How do you understand it?

What do you understand when somebody talks about human rights of Children? Do you quickly think about sexual abuse, malnutrition, child trafficking and hard labor in which our children are enforced to participate? How do we know that now, this act is a violation of rights when it’s not the above mentioned crimes?

On Tuesday 6 February 2010, I awoke very early in the morning at 5:30am.I prepared myself to leave for town. Minutes after I left home, I met a parent in the junction hundred meters from my home, it was dark and you could hardly see anyone in a distance of thirty meters. All I heard was this parent telling her 13 year old daughter in a local language “Yanguwa..yanguwa “ (Be quick, be quick). I didn’t mind them honestly. I set of my way but at this point, the 13 year old girl was ahead of me 30 meters or more. She looked worried, troubled with no choice at all, she was in the school uniform, and holding her books, therefore she was heading to school at that time (5:30am). From my observation, this kid didn’t want to be on her way to school by that time, she was deeply concerned according to the walk she walked.

To make this story short, when this girl arrived at the branch off to her school, she met a guy who was standing upright the tree which was inches on the parameter wall of the residence. The guy was a rapist who jumped immediately infront of the girl to rape her, she screamed for help but no one was there and me? I was a little bit of away, but then I heard her screaming, thus running to her rescue. I saved her that time, am not sure if I will be around the next time to save her or anyone.

I have been with these questions for years but I hardly get answers. When you walk around Kampala and its suburbs, you see kids going to school as early as 6am and in the evening, kids return home up to 10 pm. This is total child abuse. Now who is to blame for this? Is the schools who are trying to manipulate parents to get more money from them? Is it the Parents trying to let us think that their kids are busy attending school and that being in school is something special that a kid must face all the threats just to make sure she/he is in classes?

Do our schools have procedures they follow when providing Education? Where is the role of Government to make sure that our children are safe both to and from education centers? (Call it schools). Am sure the state has laws to guide teachers while doing their work, why do enforcements fail in almost all Government entities? What should we do to save our children from monsters? What’s the role of both parents and schools?  I need answers, who can be of help? I have already talked with the Ministry of Education about this issue, perhaps you can join me and we present a collective voice against this habit.

These days,its very common finding gals aged between 12 to 17 working as housegirls in the surburbs,what will their parents tell them in future?

1 comment:

John Powers said...

The answers to your questions seem hard to come by. I think that part of the reason is there are really many related questions involved and it all gets complicated and daunting.

Most perpetrators of sexual assaults are known to the victims. This is a very uncomfortable fact, it's easier to think that it's strangers who are monsters. So it uncomfortable to think the truth is much closer.

That means that what to do in some way has to involve all of us.

In the USA there is a musician who is also a psychologist named Peter Alsop. He's made a living writing songs for children. One of his songs is "My Body" which is a really powerful song that even very little kids can hear and enjoy.

As it turns out being an advocate for children is a hard row to hoe. I think that part of Alsop's success has to do with his being a psychologist and so he has some professional connections, that is he's connected to others who look after the interests of children. But it's always hard because people are suspicious.

Anyhow I think it is very useful when there are people who become known for helping children and adults talk about difficult issues like assault, sex, drugs and alcohol. Because these are hard subjects the people at the front must be respected by the community. So a Ugandan might work with people like Peter Alsop to make programs, but it probably does matter that the programs are run by Ugandans who are known in the community and who know the community. And it doesn't have to be all or nothing, I mean that doesn't have to be a person's whole career. Ziggy Marley and his band put out a children's album and have performed at many venues that bring families together.

Something I notice when I visit Web sites of authors of children's books is they almost always have resources for teachers. For example they have list of books by other authors about the same subject they've written about, and they might have lists of discussion questions about the subject.

This is very useful, teachers need help and support especially when it comes to difficult social problems. And schools make a real difference.

One last thought about schools. The schools that act to stop bullying of students by other students have much fewer behavior problems in general. It's a big step when we go from thinking that bullying is normal and okay, to seeing it as a problem to be addressed. People who are self confident and feel like they have some determination over their lives are safer.

Here are some of the lyrics of Alsop's "My Body;"

Sometimes it's hard to say "No!" and be strong
When those"No!" feelings come, then I know something's wrong

’Cause My body's mine from my head to my toe
Please leave it alone when you hear me say "No!"

Secrets are fun when they're filled with surprise
But not when they hurt us with tricks, threats and lies

Our body's one body, one voice is heard
We each sing for freedom when we sing these words!

I really do believe that we sing for freedom when we sing My body is my own!"