So, You Want to Send Your Child to a Boarding School? Ask these Child Protection-focused Questions(5)

Question 7: What are the policies in place to prevent Child-to-Child abuses? Child-to-child protection is a major issue within the school system, particularly boarding schools. I have dealt bullying few sessions away. It is one of the major issues in child-to-child abuse globally today. I appeal to you to please flip back to the chapter and avail yourself of the information therein. One area I think you should be interested in as you investigate the boarding school to register your child is child-to-child sexual abuse. It is today very rampant in mixed, boys-only and girls-only boarding school. Same sex sexual abuse is very rampant in boys-only boarding schools, so it is in girls-only boarding schools. To the best of my knowledge, the efforts of most boarding school authorities in matters of same sex sexual abuse are more curative than preventive. A boy was recently brought to me by the parents, when he insisted he did not want to return to the boarding school after his long vacation and would not tell the parents why. After spending some time interviewing him, he revealed to me that the only reason why he did not want to go back to the boarding school was because his seniors in school were forcefully having anal sex with him. The school did not find out. The parents also did not find out.  If the child had not opted out of going to the school, the menace could have continued. At the end of his stay in the school, he could have been convinced that he has a different sexual orientation. As it is with boys to boys so it is with girls to girls.

Apart from forceful sexual relationship between students, there is also a high possibility of children engaging in ‘consensual sexual activity’ within the school premises, particularly within the boarding schools. Now, ‘consensual sexual activity’ between children still constitutes an abuse. By the law, anyone below the age of eighteen years does not have the capacity to give consent to sexual relationship either for sexual intercourse or any other form of sexual activities, including oral sex. When two teenagers engage in what they call ‘consensual sexual activity’ it is still an abuse of each other’s bodies and it is contrary to the provisions of the law. Beyond the provisions of the law, sexual relationship among children is a major distraction to their academic pursuit. The negative consequences are also enormous psychologically and physiologically. It is important to be sure that the boarding school in which you want to register your child has not only put in place policies, which prevent child-to-child abuses of all shades and forms, but also have in place structures and human resources to give effective expression to the spirits and letters of the policies.   

Question 8: Is the boarding facility approved with the appropriate regulatory bodies? Before a facility is used for boarding school, it must be inspected, certified and approved by the appropriate regulatory authority. It is the responsibility of the ministry of education of the state in which the boarding facility is to be situated to inspect the facility and approve after the promoters of the boarding school have applied. It was alleged by the parents of a child, who died in a leading boarding school recently that the boarding facility was not registered with the ministry of education of the state in which the boarding school is situated. This was a fact the parents could have found out before they registered their child in the boarding school. If they had, they could have ascertained if the school met the minimum standard for approval. The foregoing could have aided their decision thereafter.

It must be the commitment of the parents/guardians to ask all these questions and more. The questions here are not exhaustive but just a guide to spur the thoughts of the primary custodians of the child in taking the decision to keep their children in a boarding school.

The truth is that if the custodians cannot vouch for the boarding school that it will give their children the best of care, which promotes nothing but the best interest of the child, it may be suicidal to register their child there. One way to be sure is to ask for policies, which have been put in place to cover all the areas highlighted and more, the distinctive machineries in place in terms of structures and trained personnel to give breath of effective enforcement to the outlined policies.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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