Back to the school

The sex scandal at Budhanilkantha School is a solemn reminder of the harrowing ordeals many children are undergoing silently. According to UNICEF estimates, 33 per cent of all children in Nepal are subjected to some form of sexual abuse. The fear of reprisal is high and the society does not appear to support victims strongly in cases of sexual abuse; unsurprisingly, most abuses go under the radar.

This is such a huge paradox. On the one hand, the number of children being abused is increasing by the day; on the other, the parents and elders in Nepali society still do not talk openly about sex with children. Children would certainly be more confident about protecting themselves if they knew that it was perfectly okay to speak up against infringement of their right to grow in a healthy and violence-free environment? Why not arm them with essential knowledge about what it means to be abused and the pernicious psychological consequences of repression in the long run? Even the children who report ‘enjoying’ sexual relationship with adults go on to develop disturbing mental illness in their adult lives. Hence, the better strategy to prevent sexual abuse against children is to discuss the issue out in the open, and to tell them how to protect themselves against abuse. As always, if imparted in the right way, knowledge can be so much more empowering than ignorance.