The SOS Mother and Adult Training Centre last Thursday held its 5th graduation ceremony at the centre in Bakoteh.
The event, which saw the graduation of 54 students, was held on the theme, “Taking a stand against child sex abuse”.
A representative of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ramatoulie Sarr, described child sex abuse as a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation and excitement.
This, she said, includes engaging in sexual activities with a child, indecent exposure of the genitals, female nipples, and a host of others. “Psychologists have proven that those who are sexually abused as children become vulnerable to personal conflict and more frequently appear in the criminal justice system and clinical mental health settings.”
She further stated that there is no denying fact that cases of child abuse are on the increase as there are bitter complaints on the media and public places about it.
Sarr therefore enjoined social workers to work on remedial intervention through self and advocacy programmes in a bid to promote the rights of the vulnerable group. She stressed that social workers should build a strong advocacy and sensitisation campaign network in a bid to strengthen their link with the Department of Social Welfare, Child Protection Alliance and other child protection agencies, as well as security agencies.
Julieta Mendes, from the SOS Social Work Academic Advisory board explained that SOS Children Village International was founded in 1949 in lmst Austria, as a child care social organisation to address the prevailing need of children displaced during the Second World War.
She said the move came as the founder Hermann Gmeiner saw the plight of these children and was motivated to contribute something meaningful to their lives by establishing a non-governmental organisation.
According to her, to facilitate this process, a children’s village concept was developed with the recruitment of women who shared the vision with Hermann Gmeiner, and accepted to be a mother and aunty to these adopted children.
Mendes said they work with Government departments like Social Welfare, Local Government Authorities, Community Based Organisations, NGOs, civil societies, biological families of the children, among others.
Welcoming the gathering, Charles Agbebaku said the centre provides vocational studies for those who have had limited opportunities to complete their education.
He said they provide literacy programmes for young people and adults including mothers from SOS Children’s Village, noting that organisations and businesses also send workers to upgrade their literacy skills for a better job performance in their respective work places.
In her vote of thanks, Fatou E Sonko, noted that some of the causes of sex abuse are lack of awareness, lack of education, and poverty.
by Jainaba D. Jatta
& Fatou Trawally