Safety and social issues are problems that affect many individuals on a daily basis. When such issues occur, right away, society gets the idea that ‘something must be done.’ Issues can be in any shape or form, from small to major, infants to elderly – any issue should be taken seriously, and a course of action put into place. Issues regarding children, are a definite must; action must be taken immediately. Children who face or are subjected to safety and social issues, especially at a young age, must be protected and cared for. Children are the world’s the purest and most innocent creations. As educators or any adult, it is our job to protect and teach our children. Children who are subjected or exposed to any issues, can be traumatized; trauma effecting their emotional and social development. Not only can potential trauma effect children themselves, it can also affect their education.
The amount of issues children face today, especially issues they should not have to experience, is highly concerning. There are many well-known issues society is aware of that children face, e.g., poverty, inaccessible education, separated households, domestic violence, etc. Issues such as these have a tremendous impact on children and can affect them in a variety of ways. Yet, these are the “typical” issues that children face, they are on the mild side of the scale compared to the issues people refuse to talk about.
Children face horrible, corrupt issues that are kept quiet and in the dark, e.g., child sex trafficking, child pornography, sexual abuse/rape, etc. It is very hard to swallow when someone hears that a five-year-old little girl has been raped, or, that a ten-year-old boy has been subjected to sex trafficking. It is easier to handle when a student discloses they are homeless versus a student who discloses sexual abuse they have endured. Regardless, at the end of the day, you are an educator and it is your job to protect and/or help your students to the best of your ability.
Handling sexual abuse must be done appropriately and professionally. As an educator, it is important when a student confides in a teacher and discloses anything. Not only does it mean the student trusts you, it also means they feel you are the only person in the world they can confide in. Children that are subjected to sexual abuse are known to decline in their emotional, mental, social, physical, and educational development. Take a seven-year-old girl, for example, who has been molested by a family member in her household. She is at the age where her brain is developing, going through a trauma such as sexual abuse, more than likely, she will not understand what is happening to her.
Part of her brain will shut down and try to block out the abuse as a way of coping until she is older and better to understand what happened to her. Everyone who has endured sexual abuse copes differently. She could potentially shut down emotionally, and socially by aggressively lashing out, or, shutting off completely from everyone around her. When a child who experiences sexual abuse, especially at an age where they are underdeveloped, their sexual organs are triggered and start to develop earlier than what they should. The child could start developing physically at an inappropriate pace; go through puberty earlier than what she should. Everything will start to become overwhelming and slowly, but surely, it will affect her education until the abuse is disclosed to an adult.
Education is a necessary tool and plays a vital role in everyone’s life. Education starts off when we are children and continues until a person willingly wants to stop their education. Education is different for a child who has suffered sexual abuse. Considering the emotional, mental, social, and physical impact sexual abuse has on a child, one can only assume how their education will be impacted. Sexual abuse can cause a decline in academic and athletic performances, elevated stress levels, lack of academic commitment, etc.
When a child’s education starts to decline, a red flag should go up. Many educators feel that when a child starts to act out and their academic performance declines, the child simply does not care about their education. This is not the case. Now, when dealing with sexual abuse, an educator must always keep in mind, a victim’s trauma will never go away. When the affects of the abuse start to get dealt with, it will take a long time for a victim to cope and manage with what happened to them. Sexual abuse trauma can never just up and vanish into thin air one day and be over with. An educator must be patient and try to be understanding of the child’s trauma and never get upset with the child.
The child is trying their best while dealing with the weight of a mountain on their shoulders; even more stress will cause them to deteriorate completely. Be understanding, offer as much academic help as possible, or even lending an ear, it goes a long way for the student. A child’s education is important, but their health is more important. For the student to succeed academically, all aspects of the child must be helped and dealt with too.
As said earlier, children are the worlds’ most precious and innocent creations to walk this Earth. As educators or any adult, it is our job to protect and teach these children. Children lack the ability to protect themselves, as educators, their teachers, it is a part of our job to protect children and teach them the skills to be safe. To believe that sexual abuse does not exist or is “rare,” is ignorant.
Sexual abuse seems like a scary word to younger children; teaching them about it seems difficult but that’s only if you have a closed mind. If an educator were to teach their students about sexual abuse, children will be able to recognize, react to, and report abuse situations. If a child is taught about sexual abuse, they are more likely to tell an adult if they have been subjected to abuse themselves. Children aren’t the only ones who should be taught, parents too. Parents often have the mentality, “This will never happen to my child.” This ill informed thinking can cause a child to be subjected to abuse. Not paying close attention to whom their child is around, where they wander to, or who’s house they sleep over at, can put a child in jeopardy.
Teaching parents about the facts and statistics about sexual abuse, can increase their protection of their children. Being educated yourself can also increase prevention. Children are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know and trust than they are a stranger. 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and it can happen anywhere children gather. Becoming an educator is a wonderful and beautiful career. Yet, if an educator does not protect their children at all costs, no matter the consequences, what was the point of becoming an educator?
Sexual abuse is one of many issues that children face today. It is a major safety and social issue that people struggle to talk about. Being a difficult topic should not change the fact that millions of children are subjected to it every day. Any abuse regarding children is difficult to talk about in general. At the same time, if it’s not talked about, how will anything get solved? Children are the pillars of the world. Without them, the world will crumble and fall apart. Keeping the foundation and support of the world should be a priority for everyone, not only educators. The children we protect will one day have children of their own. If we can’t protect the children of the present, who’ll protect the children of the future?
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/children-trauma-update
- 7 Ways Teachers Can Prevent Sexual Abuse In School. (2019, July 10). Retrieved from https://defendinnocence.org/7-ways-teachers-can-help-prevent-child-sexual-abuse/
- Banyard, V. L., Demers, J. M., Cohn, E. S., Edwards, K. M., Moynihan, M. M., Walsh, W. A., & Ward, S. K. (n.d.). Academic Correlates of Unwanted Sexual Contact, Intercourse, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence: An Understudied but Important Consequence for College Students – Victoria L. Banyard, Jennifer M. Demers, Ellen S. Cohn, Katie M. Edwards, Mary M. Moynihan, Wendy A. Walsh, Sally K. Ward. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886260517715022
- Blogs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.edurisksolutions.org/blogs/?Id=3320
- Child & Teen Safety Issues. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-teen-health/child_teen_safety_information/#gs.4cd226
- Childhood Exposure to Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Crime-Violence-and-Your-Child.aspx
- Kaliray, P., & Drife, J. (2011, January 24). OBGYN. Retrieved from https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1576/toag.22.214.171.124017
- Overview of Social Issues Affecting Children – Children’s Health Issues. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/social-issues-affecting-children-and-their-families/overview-of-social-issues-affecting-children
- Step 1: Learn the Facts – Facts About Child Sexual Abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-1/
- Teaching children in schools about sexual abuse may help them report abuse. (2015, April 16). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416083738.htm
- Top 10 Terrible Issues Facing Children Worldwide. (2014, June 16). Retrieved from https://listverse.com/2009/07/06/top-10-terrible-issues-facing-children-worldwide/