By VanessaÂ Obioha
At a gathering of educators for the third edition of Teachers Exploring Through Mentorship (TEM) program, concerns were raised over the high rate of sexual abuse among children and how educators can help keep their wards safe.Â
Â “Both parents and teachers play a significant role in preventing their children from abuse,” saidÂ Olumide Okeowo, a Clinical Psychologist at the Lagos University Teaching HospitalÂ (LUTH). “Parents should also be bothered about their childrenÂ behaviour and pay attention to it.” Â
Joining Okeowo at the conference organised by Fundawazi Foundation are other professionals like Praise Fowowe who raised the alarm of a disturbing phenomenon trending in schools called “fokarama.” According to the family and life coach,Â fokarama referred to sodomy practised amongst young persons in schools. Some of the victims are abused by their peers or teachers. He highlighted on the need for training of teachers to help identify these cues which in turn enables them nurture the psyche of the students.
“The teachers are not trained. They need a lot of capacity building. Teachers’ training would teach what to deploy in the classroom, they don’t teach on how to handle behavioural issues. I think that teachers need to be trained on capacity development, especially school counselors; the curriculum that produce the counselor is not sufficient, it is outdated globally,” he pointed out.
Furthermore, he noted some of the sociocultural expectations of the male child which leads to a lack in expressing the right emotions after being abused as a child. He feels a need to focus on the boy child, stating that such abused boys were more likely to abuse others in the future.Â
Organised by Fundawazi Foundation as part of its mission to harness the potential of millions of young students around the country through teachers empowerment, the recent edition of TEMÂ leaned chiefly towards child abuse, children with special needs and domestic violence faced by the Nigerian child, thus helping teachers understand how these menacing factors affect their students psychologically, socially and academically.Â
ItÂ was also noted that educators find it difficult to get the children to open up about their experiences as they were most times forced into silence by intimidation and threats by the same teachers and oftentimes, were well skilled in masking their pains daily. Teachers were reminded of their roles as the first line of defense for children and were encouraged to earn their trust and treat them as they would treat their own children.Â
Highlighting the fact that teachers play an important role in the detecting and reporting of child abuse, various speakers focused on equipping the teachers with knowledge on how to handle this social menace while encouraging them to be updated by reading, acquiring knowledge and developing their personal and professional skills.Â
The Foundation headed by Nomthi Odukoya, seeks to educate children on how to overcome the trauma associated with bullying, neglect, domestic violence alongside any form of abuse. Other speakers present at the program include,Â Rukayat Ogunbiyi, Mental Health Advocate Sanemind Advocacy Organisation; Dotun Akande, Proprietress of the Patrick Speech and Languages Centre; Funmilayo Akinlami, Director TAAacedemy, School Consultant; and Kikelomo Woleosho, Author of Memoirs of An Abused Girl.