Teachers have a big role in child protection
BY PASCAL EWESIT
In the quest for justifying the truth or in getting right information, the title, teacher, has always preoccupied peoples mind. The teacher has remained the guru of knowledge and the trusted person. The society’s expectation is that the teacher provides authentic information. It remains the only adorable profession in the world, for no doctor, lawyer, engineer, count them, can say he becomes what he is without undergoing through schooling by a teacher. Thus, society trusts the teacher with the responsibility of protecting children’s rights, for it with the teacher that children spend a lot of their time. The teacher’s role is therefore not only pegged to classroom work, but on the holistic development and growth of the child. When the child grows holistically, he/she becomes all-round and approaches life with an informed mind. Children at school are drawn from the community. The child may come with different perceptions about school life, or carry along beliefs that may hinder or facilitate his/her associations in school. It is through this prior knowledge that a teacher needs to understand his/her learners’ needs and expectations. When we say we are protecting children, it means we are providing avenues that are friendly to the learners. When the environment is friendly, then meaningful learning takes place, boosting performance as learners interact with peers and teachers. The question is: How can teachers promote and protect children rights? First, the teacher should be hawkedeyed to identify the feelings of children. It is through keen observation that a teacher can detect strange behaviours by children. Children who are sexually abused by their relatives or by adults tend to be timid and shy. The teacher’s main involvement is to start introduction of sex education at early stages, and if possible, inform the children on the consequences, such as dropping out of school, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and having unwanted pregnancies. Teachers may also get involved by working hand in hand with child protection officers, social workers and health workers, to help boys and girls from participating in these indecent acts.
Teachers also need to be friendly to learners to promote a good learning relationship. Being friendly helps learners to open up and be free to share their concerns and challenges with teachers. At class, children will be free to seek clarifications. Teachers should always understand child rights and human rights. By so doing, they will be able to protect children against negative events such as violence, labour, abuse, neglect and exploitation. When a teacher understands child protection, he/she will know where to direct concerns, be it the children’s office, the police, parents, religious leaders or any other agency with interest in child rights. Teachers need to also be involved in informal undertaking with learners. These could be suring games, debates, festivals and so on. The teacher could use such opportunities to spend time with learners to get to understand them better. Teachers should always organise meetings with parents and committees to discuss the challenges faced by children, and if possible, provide avenues like guidance and counselling to allow children to express their views. Teachers should also talk to learners not to discriminate peers with disability. Games should be introduced where all learners participate. They should be told that disability is not inability. So, children should intermingle in all forums.
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