Research has proven that cases of child sexual abuse are on the rise. In most of these cases, perpetrators are persons whom the children are well acquainted (Itzin, 2000). This has often complicated the process of getting justice for the victims. In fact, most cases of child abuse involving close relatives go unreported.
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This is because the abused children fail to talk about their ordeal due to threats or fear of consequences that the assailants may face (Itzin, 2000). However, it is every person’s responsibility to protect children from abuse or to report such cases to the authorities.
The Child Protection Law imposes the duty to report cases of child abuse on teachers by virtue of being public school employees. Since children spend most of their time in school with teachers, it is highly likely a teacher will be the first to notice any changes in their behavior. Therefore, as a teacher, I am morally and legally obliged to report any case of reasonable suspicion of abuse.
The burden of proof of actual abuse, rest on investigating officers. The law further stipulates that failure to report such suspicions may lead to criminal and civil proceedings. Cynthia and Rowena (2011) say that talking to a sexually abused child requires a lot of precaution and wisdom. This is because the child may not be willing to talk about the abuse.
Due to the adverse consequences of sexual abuse, efforts to have Jody share her ordeal and get immediate help would be my priority. The first thing I would do is to create a conducive environment for our discussion. Therefore, I would choose a place within the school compound that she is familiar with. This would ensure that she is comfortable to talk and not subjected to any environmental stress.
Additionally, I would find out from her friend what she likes, candy, sweets, chocolate and bring it during the discussion to enhance our relationship. Secondly, I would take the immediate opportunity to reassure Jody that she can trust me and that it is not her fault to be abused.
Since most abusers tell their victims that they are responsible for their abuse, it is prudent to relieve her of any guilt related to that. If she would be willing to talk, I would ensure that I listen to her attentively, remain calm, be supportive and never force her to disclose any information she is not comfortable revealing. After listening to her story, I would ask her how she thinks I could be of help. This would help me know the best course of action to take. Some children may request that the information remains secret.
Because of her safety, I would go ahead and report the case, but would inform her of my decision. The immediate visible effects of child abuse are nothing compared to its future impact (Bryant-Davis, 2011).
The consequences of the experience can last a lifetime. According to Itzin (2000) the long-time consequences vary from one individual to another and depend on factors such as, the child’s age, frequency of abuse, and the relationship between the abuser and the victim. Such consequences fall in three categories, psychological, physical, and behavioral.
As a victim of sexual abuse, Jody could suffer from physical consequences, which according to Bryant-Davis (2011) may include, “…impaired brain development, poor physical health, and shaken baby syndrome.” Secondly, she could suffer from long-term psychological problems such as, anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, suicide attempts and poor relationship life leading to divorce and separations.
Behavior wise, Jody could have a high chance of involving in criminal behavior, poor academic performance, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and delinquency. In conclusion, I can say that child abusers are beasts who deny their victims the happiness of childhood and prospects of a bright future. Therefore, every individual should be morally responsible and stand against this vice.
Bryant-Davis, T. (2011). Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Cynthia Franklin, Rowena Fong. (2011). The Church Leader’s Counseling Resource Book: A Guide to Mental Health and Social Problems. New York: Oxford University Press.
Itzin, C. (2000). Home truths about child sexual abuse: a reader. New York: Routledge.