Fight agaisnt sexual abuse in Livingstone schools : can children with disabilities be involved? Ndhlovu-Choola, Zeneliah

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Ndhlovu-Choola, Zenelia
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In the recent years, the problem of child sexual abuse has accelerated at an alarming rate in Zambia and the world over. Meanwhile, disabled children have been reported by the American National Resource Centre on sexual abuse (2002) as being additionally vulnerable to sexual abuse than their non disabled peers. The study was designed to determine the extent of child sexual abuse and whether involvement of children with disabilities in the fight against sexual abuse would promote self protection and advocacy. Data was obtained from questionnaire and interview based study. Questionnaires were administered to 30 pupils with various disabilities, 30 caregivers of children with disabilities and five teachers of which one was selected from each of the five special education units included in the study. The data provided information on prevalence rates, nature of sexual abuse, relationship to the abused, self protection, disclosure rates and support received. The findings show that a significant 21(70%) of children with disabilities had experienced sexual abuse while 14(46.7%) of these children were subjected to penetrative sexual intercourse. The majority of the abusers were known to the victim, eight (26.7%) being family members of whom were fathers, brothers and other relatives, While seven (23.3%) accounted for children with disabilities sexually abused by neighbours. Four (13.3%) were sexually abused by strangers whereas two (6. 7%) accounted for disabled children sexually abused by more than one person. This showed that sexual abuse is serious and common on disabled children. The findings in the study also showed how sexual abuse victims reacted to avoid further abuse. Four (13.3%) screamed, one (3.3%) threatened report to significant adults and four (13.3%) completely refused to concede hence, they protected themselves from being sexually abused. On reporting sexual abuse cases, only 11(36.6%) of the disabled children had done so. The following recommendations 'were made to Teachers, Social Welfare Officers, Community Development Officers, Service Organisations, N.G.Os, Community members, Parents, Cooperating partners and all others concerned with the fight against child sexual abuse to: A. Take innovative measures to create appropriate community awareness campaign and necessary sensitization and provide disabled children with child focused protective skills for promoting assertiveness. B. Equip caregivers with knowledge and skills to effectively communicate with their disabled children/wards on sexual matters and provide clear information about disabled children's Rights as well as consider building disabled children's capacity in advocating for their Rights. C .Advocate for creation of child friendly courts and support the enforcement of law for stiffer punishment on sexually abusing a disabled child as well as review the policy on protection of persons with disabilities.
Child sexual abuse -- Livingstone , Sexually abused children -- Livingstone -- Zambia , Handcapped