The different forms abuse included sexual abuse followed by neglect and then physical abuse
Parents and institutions that would be expected to be at the forefront of protecting children are among the worst violators of children rights, according to a new report released by a continental NGO.
A new survey in Uganda conducted by the African Network for Prevention Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) compiled a report after analysing print media stories. The stories were published by New Vision and Bukedde in 2018 among other media houses in Uganda.
"The fathers topped the list of abusers closely followed by the mothers," said Ally Ignatius Nuwoha, the executive director of ANPPCAN.
He was on Thursday speaking at the offices of ANPPCAN along Semawata Road in Ntinda, Kampala. He was flanked by Maj. Awich Pollar, the board chairperson and Allan Manya Kahungire, a board member.
The different forms abuse included sexual abuse followed by neglect and then physical abuse. The other forms of abuse that were rampant included child sacrifice, child trafficking, emotional abuse and child labour.
Nuwoha also pointed out that the perpetrators of the crimes belong to community institutions that are expected to be custodians of children and their rights such as the Police, teachers and religious leaders were also listed among the abusers. The list at the tail end also had Traditional healers and employers.
Awich who is a former child soldier during the five-year rebellion that brought President Yoweri Museveni to power said, "Children rights are non-political and it's upon all of us to fight for them."
Nuwoha pointed out three drivers that were acceleration abuse of children rights. They include the proliferation of social media sites and failure by parents to help the children to cope with the social media technologies that have hooked so many year people. He said social media provides access to pornographic materials.
Nuwoha also said that abuse of drugs and intoxicating materials had reduced the ability of some of the parents to protect the rights of the children. He said the increasing use of drugs was behind children neglect and abandonment.
In addition, poverty has affected many people because of crop failure caused by erratic weather conditions. The soils that were productive decades ago, they need a lot of fertilizer. As a result, farmers get a poor harvest and low income.
"It emerged that the immediate caregivers of children turned out to be abusers both at home and school," said Nuwoha. "At school, most abusers happen during the school holidays under the guise of coaching."
He added, "It is surprising that the headteacher who is supposed to ensure enforcement of child protection policies in school is also involved sexually in abusing the children.
The ANPPCAN boss said that most of the child abuse cases were mostly recorded from May to August. "This is a very well known dry season when crops are mostly harvested. It's a period in the year when general incomes of the people seasonally rise as the farmers get income from their produces, and in turn enhances their purchasing power," he said.
Nuwoha said teenagers that are around 13 and 14 dominated the age bracket when abused are more predominant, the second group is around six years which is the age of admission into primary school. He said the age of eight and nine years recorded the lowest cases of child abuse.
The child abuse and neglect prevalence were reported highest in Kampala, followed by Iganga, Rakai, Ibanda and Gomba in the worst five districts.
By region, central Uganda dominated in reported cases of abuse and neglect. What is not known is whether the reported cases in Central Uganda are a result of the distribution of vigilant news reporters in the country, according to Nuwoha.
In Nuwoha's press statement, it is recommended that the central and local government should increase the budget of probation and social welfare officers to execute their mandate.
In addition, all districts should recruit substantive labour officers to check the problem of child labour and trafficking. "There is a need of strengthening the family economic capacity through income generation activities, families' close follow-up of the daily safety of their children, the reunification of the street children to their families, relatives said Nuwoha.
There is also a need to investigate cases of child abuses by the court in order to take balanced corrective measures on offenders based on the findings.
He observes that most students are abused during holidays under holiday coaching program. This, according to Nuwoha, should be banned.