Tips on tackling child sex abuse


THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER is not to investigate child sexual abuse, but rather to foster an encouraging environment once the victim has disclosed the occurrence.
“If something is disclosed to them we want to reassure [the child] by saying ‘it is so unfortunate that this has happened to you, but you are very brave for talking to me and telling me. Can you tell me more about what happened to you?’
“Again, [this approach] is more targeted to the child who has disclosed as opposed to a teacher who has investigated. That is not really their role,” said consultant paediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Dr Asha Pemberton-Gaskin.
The expert was speaking on Friday morning ahead of her presentation Managing Disclosures Or Suspicions Of Sexual Abuse at the Let’s Talk . . . Student Sexual Abuse symposium at Hilton Barbados.
She added that principals and teachers should allow the child to feel safe and comfortable, while clearly documenting the information the child provided.
Pemberton-Gaskin also said promises of confidentiality should not be made.
“You cannot make promises to them you cannot keep. You have to make very empathetic assurances that [there will be] caring adults talking them (the child) through the process.”
The presentation also dealt with helping principals and teachers to help themselves.
“Sexual abuse is a horrendous and sexually-charged type of issue and so whilst we all have to play our role in identifying and treating sexual abuse, we have to remember that workers on the frontline themselves are affected by these cases.” (LW)


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