Sexual abuse of school age children: evidence from Kenya

Case Studies & Research
16 p.
Periodical title
Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 177-192

Student unrest that sometimes culminates in violent expressions have had a long history in Kenyan schools. Recent evidence, however, points to new expressions of abuse on children. There is concern that an ethos of gendered violence often expressed by sexual subjugation of girls by boys is getting institutionalised within Kenyan Schools. The rise in incidents of reported crimes of a sexual nature and the periodic mass sexual violence directed at girls within learning institutions attest to threatened sexual safety in Kenyan schools today. This paper examines the extent of sexual abuse against school children in Kenya and reasons attributed to it. It is anchored on a study conducted in 10 districts purposefully selected because they represented populations that are socio-economically more vulnerable and exhibit lower school participation. Data was collected from 70 schools. The paper makes reference to data collected from 1,279 and 1,206 children who responded to items on sexual harassment and unwanted sex respectively. Two thirds of the respondents were girls. According to the fi ndings 58 of every 100 children have been sexually harassed while 29% boys and 24% girls reported to have been forced into unwanted sex. The main perpetrators of the violence were mentioned as peers while the home featured as the most unsafe place. The causal factors posited are analysed along two themes: those that play a contributory function and those rooted in the socio-cultural context. The study recommends for a reinstitution of sexuality education, in a comprehensive manner, as a strategy of providing sexual safety education.

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