VIEWS OF DEAF TEACHERS ON SEXUAL AWARENESS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ABUSE AMONG DEAF CHILDREN AND YOUTH

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ABSTRACT
In this thesis, I collected information on sexual abuse and prevention of sexual abuse among deaf and reviewed best practices found on preventing sexual abuse. I then conducted a qualitative study on the views of deaf teachers at House of Grace School for Deaf (HoG) and as-sessed and analyzed the information found in order for it to be useful in developing a sex education and prevention program at HoG.

It has been found that deaf may be more vulnerable to sexual abuse and at HoG, several abuse cases have been reported in recent years. The main responsibility of the school is to keep the students safe and ensure their wellbeing, which is why the school must take action in finding ways to prevent sexual abuse from happening to the students.

The theoretical framework in this thesis was based on Bronfenbrenner’s socio-ecological theory.

This theoretical perspective presents how the wider environment of the young person can be conceptualised, understood and practically used in an ecosystemic manner. David Finkelhor’s (1984) four preconditions model was also used to understand why and how sexual abuse oc-curs.


Educational initiatives have been found to be most successful in preventing abuse among children and youth. However, a holistic approach in prevention strategies is needed in order to reach all of the different systems the child is living in, as the ecological model suggests. HoG is in need of an educational program that would reach all systems of the child and involve the parents and communities the child lives in as well.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 Introduction
2 Deaf Children in Ghana
            2.1 Deaf Children and Education
            2.2 Growing up as a deaf child
3 Context of the Study
            3.1 The Deaf Community and Culture in Ghana
            3.2 House of Grace School for Deaf
            3.3       Developmental needs of House of Grace School for Deaf

4 Sexual Abuse in the Deaf Community
            4.1 Studies on sexual abuse among deaf
            4.2 Why are deaf people more vulnerable to sexual abuse
5 Theoretical framework
            5.1 Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model
            5.2 Finkelhors preconditions model

6   Prevention of sexual abuse among deaf
            6.1 Primary Prevention
            6.2 Educational initiatives
            6.3 Examples of school-based sexual abuse prevention
            6.4 Other examples of sex abuse prevention programs for deaf

7 Methodology
            7.1 Research Methods
            7.2 Heuristic inquiry
            7.3 Sampling of the Study
            7.4 Interviews
            7.5 Analysing the data

8 Ethics, Reliability and Validity
            8.1 Methodological Issues
            8.2 Ethics

9 Findings
            9.1 Sex education in deaf schools
            9.2 Parents of deaf children and communication
            9.3 Views on rape and abuse among the deaf community
            9.4 The deaf community

10 Discussion and Suggestions
            10.1  Working with the parents
            10.2  Lack of information on the deaf community
            10.3 School-based initiatives
            10.4  Environmental, cultural and societal context of sex and abuse

References
Appendices


1              Introduction
Promoting healthy sexual behavior and fighting against sexual abuse are important areas of development among the deaf worldwide and especially in Ghana, where ine-quality for children in even receiving basic education continues to remain as a big prob-lem. Especially deaf in Ghana face a significant disadvantage of receiving any educa-tion and due to lack of resources the few deaf schools available are congested and lacking quality teaching. As basic education for deaf in Ghana is already facing enor-mous challenges it can be stated that sex education for deaf in Ghana is practically non-existent.

The remarkably uninformed attitude towards sex and sexual health among the deaf is a heated discussion among researchers in developed countries such as the US and UK, where it has been revealed that the deaf are at higher risk of sexual abuse than the hearing community. In developing countries, where the deaf are even more isolated from the hearing community due to negative attitudes of society, the risk of sexual abuse among deaf is even higher, according to researchers.

The isolation of the deaf population in Ghana from health and social services, educa-tional initiatives and services, public services and even from the justice department place deaf children and youth in a vulnerable position when it comes to violence and abuse. Lack of awareness on personal safety, the poor role of a deaf person in a hear-ing community or family and help-seeking barriers in the society present great chal-lenges for preventative work among the deaf population. Most workshops organized by foreign NGO’s focusing on preventing sexual abuse are for hearing people and there are no programs shown on television for deaf, except the news on one tv station. Another great challenge are societal and cultural norms within the deaf community itself, where, for example, being raped would be considered more of being the victim’s re-sponsibility and as the deaf community is very tight and isolated from the hearing, re-porting a deaf abuser would bring great shame and embarrassment for the victim since everybody knows each other. Also, deaf rarely end up behind bars, due to lack of re-sources of interpreters and officials to handle deaf cases in the police quarters.

The main purpose of this thesis is to provide valuable and useful information for House of Grace School for Deaf in order for the school to develop strategies and means to provide the students with quality sex education, promote healthy sexual behavior and prevent abuse from happening to the students. In recent years, some students have displayed concerning behavior, for example seeking attention from strangers, which adds to their vulnerability to abuse. There have also been three abuse cases in the past three years.

I conducted a qualitative study, where seven permanent teachers of House of Grace School for Deaf were interviewed on their personal views on deaf education, sexual abuse among deaf, the deaf community and how the school could prevent abuse from happening. This information, after assessed and analyzed carefully, is valuable in order to start developing sex education and preventative measures in the school. Especially as staff consist of personnel from many cultures and countries, considering the deaf teacher’s views is essential in developing a sustainable and culturally fitting educational program for the students. In this thesis, I will also introduce and discuss factors con-tributing to deaf person’s vulnerability to abuse and reasons behind challenging behav-ior in general and shortly present background information and studies done on the phenomenon of abuse among deaf around the world.


2        Deaf Children in Ghana

According to Ghana National Association of the Deaf, there are currently approximately over 400,000 deaf people in Ghana due to heredity or illness. It is even impossible to estimate the accurate figure, since most are found in more remote villages around the country.

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