The Public Affairs Unit (PAU) and the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Volta Regional Police Command have begun an intensive school sensitisation programme towards stemming the rising cases of sexually related abuses against pupils ahead of the Easter festivities and beyond.
Two Schools in the Ho Municipality, the Philip Akpo R.C. Basic School and the Ho Kpodzi E.P. Primary School have benefited from the exercise with about 740 pupils participating in the first day with an ambition to cover the majority of Junior high schools in the Municipality.
The engagement is targeted at both primary and junior high schools to educate them on the common ploys adopted by sexual abusers to exploit them, which has serious consequences for them.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Faustina Awumey, the Coordinator in charge of DOVVSU in the Region, speaking to the pupils said in recent times sexual offences are not only limited to the girl child as previously perceived but are extended to boys as well.
She said a typical case in point of the sentencing of 40-year-old, Wisdom Atiledza to eight years imprisonment for sodomizing a nine-year-old boy in Aflao in January 2022 is one of the growing cases.
ASP Awumey informed the pupils that the perpetrators are mostly persons familiar or related to them, and cautioned the pupils to be suspicious of everybody including caregivers, teachers, relatives, tenants, barbers, religious leaders among others and keep themselves safe.
According to the DOVVSU Coordinator, the perpetrators of this crime mostly resort to the use of threats and gifts as a means to lure children by taking advantage of their vulnerabilities.
ASP Awumey cautioned children who hawk wares as targets who should be careful and refrain from extending the sale of items into the rooms of prospective buyers, urging them to stay alert outside, while serving their customers.
ASP Juliana Mawusi Wiah, the Deputy Coordinator of DOVVSU, said the effects of defilement on victims included unwanted pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, fistula, depression, or trauma.
She advised the teachers not to coach students when cases are to be reported to the Police or interfere with evidence by tidying up abused children.
DSP Effia Tenge, head of the Regional Public Affairs Unit encouraged the pupils to report abusers immediately they encounter such incidents because when they refuse to report, the perpetrators are emboldened to continue abusing other minors.
She advised the teachers to show interest in notable changes in school children and report sexually related abuses to the Police for swift action.
The campaign is expected to be replicated in the coming days and weeks in other schools.