Requests rise for in-school counseling for sex attacks

There were 602 requests for counseling in schools filed in 2006-2007 by students who had been sexually abused or harassed - up from 484 in the previous year - the Education Ministry announced Wednesday. The ministry released the statistics as The Education System Against Sexual Violence Week is being observed this week. A total of 166 people turned to the unit for the prevention of child and youth abuse because of attacks by adults on children, up from 127 in 2005-2006. The vast majority of requests, 404, were for students harassing other students, up from 321 the year before. There were 26 general requests, down from 36 the year before. The statistics were based on requests for counseling, and therefore were not indicative of trends in general. The Education Ministry has been running seminars for teachers, students and their parents all week to raise awareness about sexual violence and harassment. The ministry said in a statement that it had been running training seminars for teachers and educators throughout the year, as well. Nearly 200 psychologists were put through training courses to help them treat students who had been abused. An additional 500 educational advisers were also taught how to deal with the effects of an attack in a school, female empowerment and the shift from normative sexuality to sexual abuse. The Education Ministry trained 120 kindergarten teachers to recognize the signs of irregular sexual behavior and held over 200 daylong seminars for those in the education system. Of a representative sample of 500 schools polled, 90 percent of the administrations said they were committed to preventing sexual abuse in schools. The survey was carried out at the end of last school year to determine if the abuse prevention programs were being implemented. A total of 68% of elementary schools said they dealt with the issue either during the special week devoted to the topic or sometime during the year. More junior high schools (80%) and even more high schools (91%) said they tackled the issue at some point over the course of the year.