BY EMMANUEL ASHITEY
Child abuse and neglect have immediate and long-term consequences. In addition to negatively impacting the child, child abuse and neglect impacts the family, the school community, and even future generations.
The ability to survive and thrive in the face of child abuse and neglect depends on a variety of factors, including the extent and type of abuse or neglect, whether it was continual or infrequent, the age of the child when abuse was initiated, the child?s relationship to the abuser, and how the abuse or neglect was responded to if discovered or disclosed. Outcomes are also dependent on the child?s personality traits, inner strength, and the support the child receives from those around them.
In many instances young girls and boys are sent from rural areas to families in the cities to serve as house – maids and house – boys. In the eastern and western parts of Ghana children may attend morning or afternoon school and hawk goods out of school hours, though there are some children who trade on the streets the whole day in the south area, such as Accra. Their income helps their families or house-madams financially or pays for school fees. Although most children return home at the end of the day, a growing number, including girls, subsist and exist on the streets.
The psychological consequences of child abuse and neglect include the immediate effects of isolation, fear, and an inability to trust. When children cannot trust that someone will be there to meet their needs, they tend to develop low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. These difficulties can lead to life-long relationship problems and may also lead to the development of anti-social behavioral traits. These children are also more likely to engage in violent behaviors and to be diagnosed with conduct and personality disorders.
Neglected children are also at considerable risk. These children are more likely than other children to suffer from a serious physical injury due to an accident such as falling, drowning, fire, or ingesting poison. They are also at a greater risk than other children of being physically and sexually abused from an unrelated caretaker, often times a significant other or friend of their parent(s).
Child abuse has a serious implication for the growth of our educational system. The prevalence of child abuse is becoming more manifest, perhaps due to the current downward trend in the nation?s economy. The resultant effect of this, is that children who should have normally being school, are engaged by parents and significant others, in street trading with its attendant negative effect on the children.
It is the duty of ministry of gender and children right groups therefore, to manipulate the child?s environment, in order to liberate children from being a victim of the peculiarity of their own environment.
The schools in Ghana should develop a definite program in schools to assist the students and perhaps parents to resolve their educational, vocational and personal-social problems.
The school should show, unconditional regard and acceptance, to those who are already victims of child abuse with a view of assisting them to be sensitive of their peculiarity and how to resolve their situation.
The schools should through their services in training children should try to reach all and sundry irrespective of their situations in life.
The schools should utilize the services of the school principal and teachers, to identify those who are not frequent in school for special attention.
BY EMMANUEL ASHITEY
FROM UNIVERSITY OF GHANA,
PSYCHOLOGY AND INFORMATION STUDIES, LEVEL 2OO.