Workshop on ways of coping with child abuse

Guyana Chronicle
July 30, 1999

SEXUAL abuse of young children was one of several issues brought to the fore at the just-concluded residential workshop for Regional Coordinators. And participants have returned to their districts armed with strategies for coping with such situations.

The team, drawn from the ten Administrative Regions, has drafted individual action plans on the management of social and sensitive issues facing children in the various districts of the country.

A checklist on how parents, teachers and students are required to behave has been formulated, and will be implemented in the new school year beginning in September.

According to Acting Deputy Chief Education Officer (Development), Ms Genevieve Whyte-Nedd, participants will now conduct alternate sessions for other educators in the various Regions of the country.

They are fully equipped with a plan for recognising signs of child abuse, which, Ms Whyte-Nedd said, will enlighten teachers further on aid available for victims.

The resource personnel pointed out that although reports of sexual abuse among young children and teenagers have increased, this is not a proper indicator that the crime has multiplied.

Children who have been sexually abused most times tend to suffer withdrawal and chronic depression, excessive seductiveness, poor self-esteem, eating disorders, and suicide attempts. They appear to be threatened by physical contact, among other things.

If children have unexplained bruises, burns and fractures and are self-destructive, withdrawn and aggressive, there is a possibility that they are being physically abused.

Further indicators are if the child arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to go home, chronically runs away, complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably, and wears clothing inappropriate to the weather.

Other common issues discussed during the three-day workshop, which began on Tuesday, July 20 at La Chalet Country Club on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, were the use of alcohol among school-age children, problems of race and ethnicity, teenage pregnancy and school drop-outs.

The objectives of the session were:

** to present a report on activities of Management of Social and Sensitive Issues (MSSI), from January to June this year

** to compile Regional MSSI action plans for the rest of the year

** to produce a revised draft teachers' manual on MSSI in the classroom to guide classroom practices and workshop activities

** to compile an inventory of Regional Coordinators of MSSI and other persons associated with the project

** to develop a MSSI checklist for teachers and education supervisors, and

** to sensitise them to issues related to child abuse and HIV/AIDS.

Ms Whyte-Nedd said the workshop was able to achieve all its goals, and it discussed also conflict management in the classrooms.

The seminar was funded by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). (KIM LUCAS)

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples