On March 14 of this year, an eleven year old girl was violated and sodomized by a janitor in a classroom of the elementary school Dr. Víctor Rincón, the school she attended in the municipality of Humacao. The janitor, Juan Flecha-Medina, achieved access to the girl because he was also the gardener and handyman of the girl’s grandmother, who also worked at the school. During the lunch time, Flecha-Medina opened one of the classrooms he used to clean, and met with the girl, whom he forced to come under the threat of death. The horrible situation was discovered by sixth grade students that were playing near the classroom, and saw the act through a hole in the wall. When Flecha Medina noticed that the children were watching, he left the room to frighten them, and the girl was able to leave the classroom. The girl didn’t dare to report the act, and tried to act normally during the rest of the day. However, the witnesses told what happened to the school’s social worker, and that was how the case was known. Later news reported that the girl is being homeschooled by the moment, and that she is receiving psychological help. The witnesses will also be receiving psychological help because they showed to be affected by the situation. In fact, one of the children said that he could not sleep that night because he was terrified by what he saw.
This case is not an isolated one. Statistics for 2007 reported 2,031 cases of child sexual abuse in Puerto Rico. However, the case is alarming because it occurred in a school during a normal day of classes, and it was reported by children, who also lack the capacity to presence such a situation.
A document written by Dr. César Mascareñas for the Mexican family orientation program “Esperanza para la familia”, mentions that children who have experienced sexual abuse suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. Posttraumatic stress disorder is the name given to a series of behaviors presented by people who have experienced severe trauma, usually three months after the trauma occurred. The children that suffer from this trauma exhibit some characteristics that could help parents identify that something is wrong with them. Those characteristics are the following: insomnia, over response to anger, lack of concentration, excessive alert to what happens around them, and exaggerated response to stimulus.
A brochure published by the “Oficina de Orientación al Ciudadano Contra la Obscenidad y la Pornografía Infantil en la Radio y la Televisión” encourages parents to prevent child sexual abuse. It recommends parents to practice the next suggestions: talk to children about sexual abuse; tell children that most adults do not hurt children and want to protect them; call sexual organs by their correct name; explain children that private parts should never be touched by anyone; suggest solutions to children about what to do if someone touches them; teach kids that they can say no to adults; mention children specific situations that must never happen; pay attention to any sign presented by children; and ask children to communicate if someone has touched them and to tell any secret that someone has asked them to keep.
Cases like the one mentioned before reveal that child sexual abuse is a serious situation in Puerto Rico that cannot be neglected. Although the government and mental health professionals encourage the prevention of child abuse, a decrease in the number of such cases will not be achieved without the cooperation of parents and teachers, the people who play the most critical role in a child’s development. For that reason, I strongly encourage parents and teachers to give children the tools necessary to avoid sexual abuse. I also recommend the practice of recurring meetings between parents and teachers to discuss the situation, and the practice of school programs to educate children of all ages about sexual abuse.
 Pacheco, I. (2012). Abominable acto contra niñita. Retrieved from http://www.primerahora.com/abominableactocontraunaninita-624838.html
 Pacheco, I. (2012). “Sí hubo negligencia” en caso de niña violada en escuela. Retrieved from http://www.primerahora.com/sihubonegligenciaencasodeninavioladaenescuela-625409.html
 Orta-Vélez, L.; Soto-Cortez, L. (2009). Abuso sexual a menores. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/guestaf0fa1/abuso-sexual-0e-menores
 Mascareñas, C. (2012). Trastornos psicológicos en niños abusados sexualmente. Retrieved from http://www.esperanzaparalafamilia.com/Rev/Articulos/PDFs/PDF0119.pdf
 Oficina de Orientación al Ciudadano Contra la Obscenidad y la Pornografía Infantil en la Radio y la Televisión. (2012). Proteja a sus niños contra el abuso sexual. Retrieved from http://www.gobierno.pr/NR/rdonlyres/5AAF87FC-ECF9-4B22-A74A-0FBA0BCA2B8C/0/FolletoAbusoSexual.pdf