Perspectives on Sexual Abuse of School Children in Basic and Secondary Schools in Ghana
Objective: To explore and document the extent of sexual abuse of school children in Ghana and initiate an informed dialogue with all stakeholders for solutions. Method: This is a descriptive and exploratory survey. Information was collected from 49 public schools (490 school children, 116 parents and 49 head-teachers) from 4 out of the 110 districts in the country. Three sets of interview schedules were used to solicit information from school children, parents and head-teachers. In addition four focus group discussion sessions were held separately for school boys, school girls, male adults and female adults in each study area. Furthermore, relevant existing documents were reviewed for background information. Results: There is evidence suggesting the occurrence of sexual abuse in Ghana public schools. About 11.2% of the children who responded had been victims of either rape or defilement which is ‘the natural or unnatural carnal knowledge of any child under sixteen years of age’. The occurrence and severity of abuse are strongly related to gender. 92% of victims were female students. Conclusions: The current system of protecting children from sexual abuse in and outside of schools is ineffective. The study suggests strengthening of the existing protection system with community/school-based child protection teams.