AClinical Psychologist and Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba Lagos State, Dr Richard Adebayo has urge governments at all levels to develop a programme with the objective of rehabilitating children who are victims of molestation and abuse.
Dr Adebayo said that these children experience complications, which can have dire consequences including mental disorder if not treated.
“The authorities only ensure that physical injuries are cared for, but the health implications do not end there. Long term complications may evolve from what the child has passed through.
“The traumatised child keeps reliving the experience and the brain replays the incidence again and again, making it a fresh experience each time.
“They experience fear, anxiety and apprehension which lingers and results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
“Others may not be able to experience normal marital relationships and view males as potential abuser or opportunist.
“Some others would exhibit anti-social behaviours, become hostile, irritable, withdrawn and lose their self-esteem even becoming sex workers,’’ he said.
He commended what the Lagos State government is already doing to fight child molestation and stressed the need for equal efforts to be directed towards supporting and caring for those already molested.
He revealed ignorance and the fear of being stigmatised as the major factors that prevent parents of abused children from seeking help from the appropriate quarters.
Dr. Adebayo further pleaded with the government to create enlightenment programmes on mental health care and also provide specific support services for affected children to help protect their futures.
“Treatment should be offered to these children outside the hospital setting, where they can be evaluated by clinical psychologists.
“The government should ensure they receive treatment and more severe cases should be transferred to appropriate hospitals.
“Then a life line, as a form of follow up, should be available whereby the psychologist or counselor may be contacted if the need arises even years after the child’s ordeal,’’ he said.
The Psychiatrist also emphasized the efforts of law enforcement agencies in the fight and told the government to train and retrain law enforcement agents on the way to handle child abuse cases because of their sensitive nature.
“They should be trained in handling these sensitive matters so that they do not ignorantly undermine the fight,’’ he said.
Adebayo advised the parents to be more vigilant and do more to protect their children from irresponsible predators.
“It is their primary responsibility to monitor the activities of their children, give them guidelines to protect them from predators, who are often familiar individuals,’’ he said.
Disclosing that pedophilia is a mental disorder, Dr. Adebayo also charged the government to make appropriate mental health care available to the abusers.
“Even in their prison cells, pedophiles should be helped, because a mental disorder is the underlying factor in their abnormal behaviour,’’ the medical expert said.
Also another clinical psychologist, Mr Nathaniel Ayodeji, of Mental Health Foundation, Lagos, has said that one in every five young people today had some form of mental health issues owing to unaddressed ugly childhood experiences.
“One in five young people today have one form of mental challenge; that is 20 per cent of our youths.
“This is because many have had unpleasant childhood experiences that have made them vulnerable and unable to cope with normal stress of life.
“They become depressed, withdrawn and lose their self-esteem,’’ the psychologist said.
Ayodeji solicited for greater enlightenment on mental health in order to educate the people.
“There is no mystery attached to mental health care. If you have malaria you need to see a doctor. The same principle applies with mental disorders,
“The government also needs to employ more professionals to meet the needs of those with mental health challenge,’’ he said.