SAVE THE MENTALLY ILL CHILD FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

By Eronie Kamukama

Sexual abuse against mentally ill children is a hidden problem in Uganda. There are many mentally ill children abused on a daily basis but it is hard to know the prevalence rate of this problem.

mental

According to Dr. Catherine Aboo, a child psychiatrist at Mulago National Referral Hospital, this is because it is a complex societal issue that not many people want to talk about.

Who are the commonest perpetrators of this sexual abuse?

  • Family members
  • Mentally ill people

How does this sexual abuse happen?

She says children are dependent on adults and these are the same people who abuse them. She says the perpetrators of the rape and defilement always coerce these children and get into manipulative relationships with them.

In most cases, these children trust their adults who use this to abuse them and in turn, the children will not come out to talk about it because they are embarrassed about it.

Aboo says it is worse for mentally ill children because this affects their development levels which compromises their ability to talk about it.

How can one know a mentally ill child has been sexually abused?

Like many normal children, Dr. Aboo says there are signs that can show a parent or guardian that a mentally ill child has been abused.

child-abuse-stock

  • Inappropriate sexual talk/gestures/expression
  • Clinging to certain people
  • Fear of people especially the perpetrator
  • Change in behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sleep/Nightmares
  • Child becomes miserable and cries a lot

What is the impact of sexual abuse on mentally ill children?

Dr. Aboo says the impact is unpleasant and even worse for mentally ill children because unlike other children, their mental health is already compromised. The impact is physical, emotional and psychological.

It exposes them to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition triggered after seeing or experiencing terrifying events.

PSTD

She also says early initiation to sex retards the development of these children in understanding normal sexual issues. Some of them develop illicit sexual behavior and could become prostitutes.

Physically, the children are prone to sexually transmitted diseases and rupturing of their sexual organs since they are still growing.

Treatment

Dr. Aboo explains that the traumatized child can be treated using cognitive behavior therapy. According to  Wikipedia, this therapy seeks to change the way a trauma victim feels and acts by changing the patterns of thinking or behavior, or both, responsible for negative emotions.

One can also use play therapy where playing is used to link a child’s inner thoughts with their outer world.  According to the Centre for Play Therapy at the University of North Texas, it helps a child to get relief from the traumatic events, resolve psychosocial difficulties and obtain optimal growth and development.

preschoolers

Advice for Parents and Guardians

Dr. Aboo advises parents to seek help as first as they notice changes in a child. She says, however, that prevention is key and that everyone in society should take responsibility for their moral behavior so that children do not have to go through such assault.

Parents should make the home environment safe, stable and conducive for nurturing the child. They should avoid motivating sexual abuse in their homes to protect the child.

The absence of internal restraint in society  is a major cause and so communities should work together to disapprove these acts against mentally ill children

Dr. Catherine Aboo, Child Psychiatrist- Mulago National Referral Hospital

 

GET GOOD POSTURE THROUGH EXERCISE

By Eronie Kamukama

Are there times when you cannot sit straight because you feel some sort of discomfort?

Correct sitting posture

Correct sitting posture

According to Daniel Kabali, a fitness instructor and national coach of Uganda Athletics Federation, this is because you have a weak lower back.

He says such people’s lower abdomen is stronger than the lower back. This means one tends to use his lower abdomen inflicting pain on the lower back due to imbalance in the two muscles.

Kabali also says some people cannot stand well because of lack of proper exercise.

Some people do not do any vigorous activities because they drive to office, use the lift and sit on office chairs all day. The body weakens yet this can be avoided if one spares at least one hour to exercise

Daniel Kabali, fitness instructor

He says it is important to have good posture to prevent the pain and discomfort that results from bad body posture.

Kabali recommends exercises that can help one to strengthen his/her back, thigh, knees, shoulder and leg muscles which support the whole body.

 

EXERCISES TO IMPROVE ONE’S BODY POSTURE

BACK RAISES

Woman does back raises

Woman does back raises

Lie on your stomach with your face down and your toes touching the floor.

Put your hands directly below your shoulders with your palms flat and your elbows squeezed in towards your body.

 

Raise your head and chest so your forehead is three to six inches off the floor.

Keep your face down and your feet on the floor. Your hand will remain on the floor. Stay in this position.

Once you feel strong in the second step, work your upper back at the same time.

Clasp your hands at your finger tips and place your hands on the back of your head.

Lift your head and chest while keeping your elbows behind your head. Stay in this position until you feel strong.

 

SIDE BENDS

Woman does side bends with dumbbell

Woman does side bends with dumbbell

Stand up straight with your feet apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your palm facing in.

With your back straight, bend to the left side as much as you can. Make sure you bend only at the waist.

Return to the first position. Repeat as many times and the change to the right side.

 

 

BACK EXTENSION EXERCISES

woman does back extension exercise

woman does back extension exercise

Lie down and put your legs apart.

Place your arms at the sides of your body,with palms facing down. Ensure your head and neck are in a straight position.

Lift the upper body off the ground. Slowly lower your upper body to complete one round.Repeat as many times as possible. There should be no movement from your hips to your toes.

 

WALL SQUATS

Stand upright and put your back against the wall.

Place your feet 12 inches in front of your body and ensure your toes are pointing forward. You can work with or without dumbbells.

woman does back extension exercise

woman does back extension exercise

Lean against the wall and slowly lower your body until your knees are at an angle of 90 degrees.

Stay in this position and keep looking straight ahead.

Raise your body to go back to standing position.

Repeat as many times as you can.

 

 

Why I detest men in grey cars

By Eronie Kamukama

grey ama carHe was dressed in a shirt, shorts and African shoes. He looked like a man in his early 40s. He had parked his grey Ipsum car in front of my father’s shop and started calling out for customer care.

read newsFor five minutes I did not notice that there was someone who wanted to buy something because I was reading a newspaper while listening to loud music.

The shop had been open for three hours and no one had come to buy anything and at the sight of this man, I was very excited that I finally had a customer.

“Hey there, I have been calling you but you are not hearing me. You must be really be enjoying your music, huh?” He said.

“Yes, I am and sorry about that, I did not see you coming in. So how can I help you?” I asked.

“Where is your father? I have not seen him in a while,” He asked.

“And who are you and how do you know my father? I asked.

“I am your father’s close friend and I am called Nsaba. I work at the supermarket down there,” He replied.
During this time he was looking carefully at the things in the shop.

“So what time will he be back today because I have been away in the village and I have not had time to talk to him since I came back? I saw him yesterday at around 8 pm but we did not talk,” Nsaba said.

“Come back at that same time and you will find him right here,” I told him.Nsaba gets out of the shop but when he was about to leave he changes his mind and re-enters the shop.

Trouble started when Nsaba said,

“By the way, I have something coming up at home and I think since you have sodas, I should take some crates with me. I need to know how much you sell them for starters,”

I told him that each crate was 19,000 but that I was not sure about it and that I had to first call my father to confirm. At this point he disagrees with me on the price.

“No way, your father said that it is 17,000. How come you have increased the price? But anyway go on and call him but he will tell you the same thing that I am telling you,” He said.

man with cratesNsaba then suggests that in the meantime he would be putting the crates in the car boot. I tried to call my father to ask him whether he knew this man who by then had convinced me to give him the phone so he could talk to “his friend”.

However, my father did not pick up the call even when I kept on redialing his number.
“If he is not picking then calculate the amount so that I can pay you,” Nsaba said.

By then, he had put six crates of soda in the boot and as I was calculating the money, Nsaba drove away. He drove off with six crates of soda, six-crates-of soda and he had not paid a single coin.

As I was still looking on, a neighbor of mine asked whether I knew him and if he had paid. I replied in the negative and she yelled that I had been conned. “Omusajja akkubye, takomawo.” Milly said. This literally meant “the man has stolen soda from you.”

I felt my skin peel off at the sound of those words. I could not believe it and Milly quickly suggested that I should get a Boda Boda and follow him. There was no motorcycle and so I started running as fast as a deer until I met a woman with a car and asked her for help.

“No, I have a baby in the car so I cannot help you.” The woman said.

I started running again and found a Boda Boda, jumped on very fast as I told the cyclist what had happened. After a ten minute ride, the cyclist assured me that there was no way we could find that man and that I should go home instead.

Deep within me I knew that he was right but I just did not want to accept the fact that he was gone and that I had been conned. My eyes started to tear on my way home.

I just broke down when I looked at the place where the crates had been.

angry girl“I felt the world crushing on me, the once blue sky looked grey and my heart was filled with a lot of anger. I kept on wondering how stupid I had been not to see the hell that I was getting myself into.”

The most annoying part is that I then called my father and he picked up after the man had gone! I wished he had picked up then! I had been conned by a man my father never knew. He had lied to me about everything, I am sure even his name. I closed the shop and walked to find solace but every man I saw in a grey car looked like a thief.

Ever since that day, my sentiments about men in grey cars have not changed; I detest them because I always think that that might be another conman. As for my customers, I have learnt not to be nice to people, I am always thinking that if I had been tougher, he could have run away without anything.

However, a friend of mine says that that is the world we live in now and I have now accepted.

A review of Uganda’s news websites

By Eronie Kamukama

NEW VISION

New Vision is one of Uganda’s leading daily newspapers. It is one of those newspapers that realized the need for an online news site due to the trends in consumer demand for online news.

According to the Managing Editor of New Vision, Ben Opolot, the shift to an online version has been due to the fact that the English newspaper market in Uganda is shrinking.

Ease of Usability

  • It is easy to find information on what article you are looking for because there is a search button at the top of the New Vision website. However, sometimes when one types in the Search button, they are requested to put the date and year of publication yet as a reader, one might not have the patience or time to put those details.
  • The information has been categorized and the categories are at the top, one does not have to first scroll down looking for categories.

NEW VISION WEBSITE

  • Once one has already scrolled down after reading a story, they do not have to go back up to look for the categories because the information is again categorized as one scrolls down.
  • The website has an archive button at the top of the homepage where you can search for a story that was published years ago.
  • The font type is good but the font size is small which makes one strain their eyes.

 

Length of stories

New Vision is inconsistent with the way their online stories are written. Some stories are short while others are too long to be standard online stories. There are no links, no lists and no block quotes.

For example…http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/669499-technology-entrepreneurs-discuss-opportunities-for-generating-revenue-online.html

Content                                                                               

  • The content is very important and appropriate for its readers because it speaks directly to each of its target audiences.
  • The content is fairly well presented because it has a multimedia element to it. It observes the use of photos, text and some videos. I still think it is important for the site to have audio and more video relating to the stories published.
  • The content is also engaging because the stories are given human face i.e. human interest stories and such stories leave the readers’ minds discussing issues at hand.
  • There is a provision for feedback on the different stories published and readers can comment. The New Vision also has an Opinion Poll on its website and they pose questions derived from a particular story they have run on their website. This engages the readers well.
New Vision feedback platforms

New Vision feedback platforms

Content layout

The layout of this news site is good because it is easily scannable as content is categorized. There are several headings with a photo and summary of what the story is about. These headings are linked to the full story and below the summary, there is a link saying “full story” if one wants to go on.

For example:

Insurance brokers colluding with car owners to defraud 7 hours ago

A survey conducted by financial firm KPMG reveals that insurance brokers are colluding with car owners to defraud insurance firms which is making overall insurance packages expensive…..

full story

However, sometimes it publishes with a headline, a photo and a long piece of text.

In this story..http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/669491-ura-boss-doris-akol-promotes-transparency.html

 

THE OBSERVER

Homepage

At the top of the homepage is the name of the website that is The Observer and an advert of MTN. The name of the site does not stand out as it directly competes with the MTN advert that takes up most of the space and has bright colors.

observer

 

Navigation of The Observer website is partially good. The website has its navigation at the top of the homepage which makes it easier for the reader to find what they are looking for without having to first scroll down.

However, the font size of the menu or categories is small which makes it a little insignificant and hard to recognize.

The search button is included on this menu and is not easily recognizable.

However, there should be an independent search button so that the reader can easily type in what they are looking for without having to “click search” first, open a new tab and then type what they are looking for.

There is good color maintenance throughout the website, that is the white and different shades of blue. The colors easily blend although the entire homepage is not too attractive to look at.

As one scrolls down the homepage, there is a lot of white space which I think the website should have utilized by adding more content, for example a photo gallery, opinion polls etc.

Content

Adverts

The content available is in form of adverts and news. The adverts are big enough which makes them visible to readers. Some of the adverts are closer to the editorial stories which makes it possible for the readers to see them.

News

The information is in form of hard news, features, analysis and commentary. The news disseminated is credible because it is well sourced or attributed, as well as relevant for its audience. The information is also timely and its good that the website indicates the time the stories are uploaded.

  • The content is easily scannable because it is well categorized.
  • There are headlines for each story and the font size is small which increases reading concentration (focused reading of each word).

observer biz

  • The stories have introductory paragraphs that give readers an idea of what the story is about and they are likely to be read.
  • The stories have a headline, followed by a big photo and a long block of text. The paragraphs are not too long because they have at most four lines of text each which is likely to encourage reading.

However, some stories are too long without any graphics, any links, more photos, block quotes or even lists. This makes it boring and discourages reading.

For example…..http://www.observer.ug/education/38216-universities-urged-to-increase-enrolment-numbers

The font size of the text is too small which makes readability hard.

 

bigeye.ug

HOMEPAGE LAYOUT

General home page layout is good.

The bigeye.ug website has good navigation that is very visible. The categories are at the top of the homepage and others repeated as one scrolls on the page.

web

  • There is an independent search button that is very recognizable.
  • There is good space utilization on the site.
  • The font type and size are good as they make the text legible.

 Content

  • The stories are in form of text, accompanied with photos and audio sometimes.

big eye 1

  • The stories published on bigeye.ug are relevant for the site’s readers who are interested in Entertainment news. However, some of its information is not credible because it is based on rumors/unconfirmed claims.
  • The stories published are precise, short and written with simple English. This makes it easier to read the stories without getting tired of too much unnecessary information.
  • The paragraphs are broken down to at least four lines in some stories which does not make the story boring to read.
  • The aspect of making certain words in text bold is good as it makes these key words as it puts emphasis on them.
  • The information given in the stories is well attributed and this makes it credible to a reader.
  • There is good use of links that give a reader a clue on more information about the story.
  • There is good use of big sized photos after a short piece of text in the stories which makes it easy to attract readers’ attention.
  • The words in headlines are not capitalized yet this would make the headlines stand out of the entire page.

Adverts

Text adverts are distinguishable from the normal text by giving them a red color. However, the adverts ask users to “click here” to subscribe to the advertised products.

I think this acts a s a barrier to readers because personally I might simply continue scanning through text because I do not have the patience to first click and wait for a page to load so as to register for a product.

Interactivity

There is good use of social media that enables interactivity. The website has social media buttons at the end of each story that engage readers by allowing them to give their views/comments on the stories published.

 

THE INDEPENDENT

The Independent is a Ugandan website that publishes general news but known for its analysis on critical issues in the country.

The website’s name is is outstanding given the good use of large font size that is in bold letters.

THE INDEPENDENT

The Independent website has a well laid out homepage with clear content that is easily navigable.

The site has moderate content and is not crowded. This allows the website to breathe and the reader to easily scan through content.

  • The navigation is at the top of the homepage and this enables easy access to information. There is a search button at the top right side of the site.
  • The content is further categorized in the middle and at the end of the website to avoid scrolling up again.
  • The stories are presented in a list form which makes them more readable and brief.

independent

  • The stories under each category have short subtitles and full stories are only  click away using the available links.
  • Font type and size are good so stories are legible.
  • The website has a multimedia aspect to it so readers have variety of news formats. There is text, graphics in form of cartoons, photo gallery and video (You-tube).
  • The content is relevant and credible with full analysis and attribution to sources.
  • The adverts are visible and well placed.

However, stories are too long although the paragraphs are short.

  • There are no links used.
  • There are no bullets or lists highlighting any events.
  • There is only one photo used at the beginning of the story.
  • There are no block quotes for outstanding remarks that would break the long grey text down.

For example….http://www.independent.co.ug/news/regional-news/10308-burundis-fate

Interactivity

There are social media icons at the top right side of the website for feedback. Each story has these social media icons at the end to enable readers give their comments on the issues at hand.

In conclusion, these news websites are still lacking especially in the way the content is presented for the readers.  They need to make a few changes by publishing more concise stories with links in stories and block quotes.

They should cut down on the sizes of paragraphs by putting bullets and make stories more interesting to look at using multimedia tools.