Exploration of the involvement of selected secondary schools in child protection against violence, exploitation and sexual abuse in Lusaka, Zambia.

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Likumbo, Chembe Luckson
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The University of Zambia
No child should have to worry about his or her safety and welfare. Unfortunately, research shows that millions of children around the world are at risk for violence, abuse, and exploitation. There are several threats to the safety of children, most of which are interconnected (UNICEF, 2021). Therefore, this study focused on the practices of secondary schools in ensuring the protection of their children in Lusaka district of Lusaka province of Zambia. The aim of this study was to explore the involvement of secondary schools in protecting children from violence, exploitation and sexual abuse. The study was guided by the following objectives: i). Describe the prevalence of cases of violence, exploitation and sexual abuse among children in secondary schools in Lusaka district. ii). Explore the measures taken to protect children from violence, exploitation and sexual abuse in selected secondary schools. iii). Explore gaps in the actions taken to deal with child protection concerns in selected secondary schools in Lusaka district. This study employed a qualitative methodology guided by a case study design in the light of learned helplessness theory. Additionally, the study adopted systematic and purposive sampling techniques to enrol four secondary schools and to enlist thirty-six (36) participants respectively. The participants were distributed as follows: thirty-two pupils; one Headteacher; two Deputy Headteachers and one Head of Department. The data of this research were collected using focus group discussions with pupils and interview schedules on school administrators. The qualitative data were analysed thematically by comparing and categorising participants‟ responses. The findings of the study revealed that violence, exploitation and sexual abuse are very much prevalent in secondary schools. However, it is difficult to ascertain the prevalence because of underreporting of these cases by the pupils. Cases of sexual abuse were found to be more prevalent among the girls and cases of physical abuse were more pronounced among the boys. The study also revealed that teachers are usually the perpetrators of these cases. The study made six recommendations, three of which are outlined below: i). the government through the Ministry of General Education should strengthen the child protection policies in schools, ii). the government through the Ministry of Higher Education should introduce a course in guidance and counselling, iii). School administrators should get more involved in the activities of the guidance and counselling department.
Bullying in schools--Prevention. , Bullying--Prevention. , Child welfare--Zambia. , Children--Government policy--Zambia. , Children--Services for--Zambia.