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Anexos / Arquivos

Child sexual abuse: the position of teachers regarding the issue facing their students

RC: 99125
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GONÇALVES, Natamy de Almeida [1], DIAS, Camila Santos [2]

GONÇALVES, Natamy de Almeida. DIAS, Camila Santos. Child sexual abuse: the position of teachers regarding the issue facing their students. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 09, Vol. 01, pp. 209-250. September 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


Sexual abuse is a social phenomenon that needs refined attention because it is a complex issue that generates suffering for many children, adolescents and families. Considering that the school is an important context for the child and adolescent, and that it is involved in the process of identity formation and aspects that permeate the biopsychosocial development of the student, this institution has the important role of collaborating for the protection of the student. Based on these considerations, this research presents the following guide question: do teachers have the necessary knowledge about sexual abuse and their responsibilities on the subject in the school context in order to be prepared to identify, prevent or lead families to the necessary measures? Thus, this research aimed to know and discuss the positioning of teachers in relation to the prevention, suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse in the school context. Then, after the approval of the Ethics and Scientific Merit Committee of the Hermínio Ometto Foundation, via plataforma Brasil and the issuance of the Consubstantiated Opinion of the CEP of no. 1,511,605, a qualitative, applied and empirical research was carried out, with a survey technique, and for the analysis of the collected data, content analysis and thematic analysis techniques were used, applying the Interview as an instrument of data collection, critically analyzing the reality presented and contributing scientifically to the development of new visions on the present problem. The results of this study showed that teachers have little appropriation of what child sexual abuse is and about their responsibilities for such violence. In addition, they feel unprepared to face the problem, do not have adequate training for this and do not have support of continuous training that provide them with preparation for this. It was concluded, then, that it is necessary that there is the training of teachers, and that the school/educational psychologist can make significant interventions with the entire school team, as well as work with the community, giving guidance to parents and family members so that they can corroborate to combat the so repudiated crime.

Keywords: Child Sexual Abuse, Child Sexual Assault, Teachers.


Child sexual abuse is a problem that has affected thousands of children and adolescents worldwide at various times in history. Such violence persists today and continues to gain space, since in most cases, the aggressor is part of the victim’s family or is very close to it. This is one of the factors that hinder not only in the prevention and identification of sexual abuse, but also in the complaint of the abuser and, as shown by Aded et al. (2006), it is believed that the number of cases is higher than that of notifications.

The school is an important context for the child, since it is involved in the process of identity formation and aspects that permeate the biopsychosocial development of the student (SERAFIM et al., 2011). In addition, this institution has the important role of collaborating for the protection of children and adolescents according to the Statute of children and adolescents (BRASIL, 1990). However, as Inoue and Ristum (2008) point out, many professionals have distanced themselves from this responsibility in their practice. The authors also denote that the role of teachers in relation to this care is of great importance, since teachers can be fundamental agents for the process of prevention, identification or referral of possible students who are victims of child sexual abuse.

Based on these considerations, this research presents the following guide question: do teachers have the necessary knowledge about sexual abuse and their responsibilities on the subject in the school context in order to be prepared to identify, prevent or lead families to the necessary measures? Thus, this research aimed to know and discuss the positioning of teachers in relation to the prevention, suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse in the school context.

It is considered, then, that this investigation is socially relevant, and that the theme is widely discussed by different authors, such as Ynoue and Ristum (2008), Araújo (2002) and Azambuja (2006), for example, who talk about the common characteristics among aggressors, locals and victims of abuse; question about the act of denouncing or not the aggressor; score different types of victim and family care services; and even address how the school and its professionals are involved in the problem, among other discussions. However, little research is made about the reality of teachers’ knowledge about child sexual abuse, not discussing their academic and/or continuing education in relation to the subject, or possible support that the federal, state or municipal governments offer to these teachers, thinking, in addition to the acquisition of knowledge, the preparation for the practice of these professionals in the face of prevention, identification and direction of the process after a possible finding of students who are victims of sexual abuse. Therefore, it is understood that the making of this research is scientifically relevant. Therefore, this research aimed to know and discuss the positioning of teachers regarding the suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse in front of their students, as well as the position of these professionals regarding prevention in the school context.


According to the Ministry of Health, sexual abuse is about every game or sexual act whose aggressor is in a stage of psychosexual development earlier than that of the victim, being a child or adolescent, with the intention of sexually stimulating her or using it to obtain sexual pleasure. It occurs through erotic and sexual practices that are imposed by physical violence, threats or even the induction of your will. It is characterized by acts in which there is no physical contact, as in the case of voyeurism (observation of a naked person, in the act of undressing or performing sexual acts) and exhibitionism (display of nudity itself), as well as by sexual contact actions with or without penetration. In addition, it encompasses sexual exploitation (for profit), which is the case of pornography and prostitution (BRASIL, 2002, p. 13).

Although the laws are currently favorable to the fight against child sexual violence, there is a lack of coherence of these with many practices of people who have in their profession the function of working for children and adolescents, such as the school team, for example. The performance of many professionals in the area of education is still far from the proposal of the ECA, because many who are in the light of evidence of mistreatment are not prepared for an action consistent with the Statute of the Child and Adolescent.

The school is an institution that, among its other attributions, must also be committed to guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents, and the adhering of educators is paramount for the theory of these rights to be reflected in practice. “The teacher’s role in identifying and reporting sexual violence is fundamental, especially in the first grades, when educators spend about four hours a day with children” (INOUE; RISTUM, 2008, p.15).

Given the severity of the problem, the school plays an important role and is part of a fundamental network not only for the process of identity formation and socialization of the student, but also for the protection of the child (INOUE; RISTUM, 2008). For this, it is essential that professionals are trained and willing to make the school fulfill this role. Thus, it is very pertinence to think about the aspects that involve the current knowledge and positioning of teachers regarding sexual abuse.

Vagostello et al. (2003) conducted a study in public schools in the State of São Paulo, in order to verify the ability to recognize students who are victims of domestic violence, and how these situations are referred in the school context. The result of this research pointed out that, although schools are able to identify the cases of children raped among their students, there is still a need to better address the subject, since the school team presented difficulty to do so; it was also seen that many cases end up being denied, concealed or treated wrongly.

This is because, as Williams (2002) rightly denotes, in the 21st century, sexual violence is still regarded as taboo, and when the physical or sexual integrity of the victim is violently affected, the victim himself is often stigmatized and often has a feeling of guilt or shame, which can lead to social isolation. This, among others, is one of the reasons for the non-reporting by people who are or are not part of the victim’s family, and even by the school. As these cases may involve risks such as threats from the aggressor, or complications, such as a shake-up of the family structure when it is part of the family, it is common for third parties such as the school not to want to get involved, or prefer to settle with the silence of the sexually assaulted student, because it is a delicate, serious matter, and that requires preparation to deal with this type of situation.

For Cardoso and Menezes (2009), the State has a duty to prevent child sexual abuse with measures such as investing funds in training and awareness programs of state professionals, and society in general, making it a safer society, in a way that respects and protects children and adolescents, also offering leisure in places that they can keep safe as, for example, in schools, day care centers, and shelters, being accompanied by trained professionals. Education must be privileged and defended by human rights defenders, requiring immediate attention and with responsibility on the part of the State. Also, in relation to children and adolescents in a peculiar condition of development, it acts with a decisive role in favor of the prevention and detention of child sexual violence.

The authors stress the importance of the qualification and sensitization of state agents about abuse is not only directed to one or another specific area, it should be given in an unrestricted and constant way, permeating the work of both professionals directly involved in the care of children and adolescents victims of sexual abuse, as well as those who have occasional contacts, as, for example, administrative officials. Thinking about the school context, this preparation can be done with all employees of the institution (CARDOSO; MENEZES, 2009).

Longo (2006) points out the importance of talking about sexual violence with children, because this is a means of protecting them from the abuser’s manipulations. With the acquisition of information about the subject, the child can know better his body, about how and by whom it can be touched, and this can be a measure of prevention because, in general, the abuser has the tendency to approach children because they are more vulnerable due to lack of information or emotional structure.

The author indicates that most victims of abuse do not report what happened, because she fears that they will do something against her, and because she is afraid to undo the family because of the situation. What may be worse than the abuse itself is the victim thinking he is responsible for the destruction of his own family. Other reasons for this silence may be: threats on the part of the abuser, understanding abuse as a daily/common aspect/event or not even realising that it is happening, the distortion of reality caused by the abuser and fear of the abuser, as well as not believing in it, and factors such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, among others (LONGO, 2006).

Thus, the school, while an institution that occupies a place of care for children and adolescents needs to be prepared for the prevention that Longo (2006) proposes, that is, that can take place through the creation of programs to work on the subject, the early identification of children in “risk situation”, ability to recognize the evidence of sexual violence in students, etc. For this, “train” the look and the ability to listen to educators for this perception, know how to notify and forward to the competent authorities, for medical and psychological care and monitor this victim fully, working so that this is not repeated; also monitor the abuser so that he is held accountable and allow him to have psychological help. It is worth highlighting the importance of deconstructing fears and prejudices that may exist on the part of these educators, so that they do not hesitate to take action in favor of their students in this sense.

Brino and Williams (2003b, p.1) conducted a study from the perspective of prevention, with the objective of “[…] evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention with educators in order to enable them to act with cases of sexual abuse”. The data obtained reveal that many teachers would have the attitude of referring cases of sexual abuse to the school board and, in the words of the authors of the study, “this fact draws attention to the importance of involving school administration in training projects similar to the present study” (BRINO; WILLIAMS, 2003b, p.8). Another fact that demonstrates this need is that there is an administrative hierarchy in the school, which seems to be respected mainly when it comes to sensitive issues such as child sexual abuse.

Thus, both teachers and the school board need to have knowledge about the rights of the child, because having a clear awareness about them allows a greater sensitivity to the recognition of cases of sexual violence. “But just knowing is not enough, it is necessary to know how to denounce, deal with the child who was abused, giving him support and support and refer him to specialized treatments” (BRINO; WILLIAMS, 2003b, p.2).

UNICEF’s[3] website informs some ways of making complaints, and one of them is by contacting the Guardianship Council, as counselors have the role of ensuring compliance with the rights of children and adolescents. According to the institution’s website, “it is up to them to receive the notification and analyze the origin of each case, visiting the families. If this is confirmed, the Council should bring the situation to the public prosecutor’s attention.” The ECA provides that

Art. 70-B.  As entidades, públicas e privadas, que atuem nas áreas a que se refere o art. 71, dentre outras, devem contar, em seus quadros, com pessoas capacitadas a reconhecer e comunicar ao Conselho Tutelar suspeitas ou casos de maus-tratos praticados contra crianças e adolescentes (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, the law provides that professionals in the areas of information, culture, leisure, entertainment, among other aspects mentioned in art. 71, need to be able to make complaints to the Guardianship Council in the face of the violation of the right of children or adolescents, as well as in cases of Sexual Abuse (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, the Guardianship Council is a favorable body for receiving reports of violence, including sexual violence. Another proposal for the complaint submitted by UNICEF’s website is to contact the Children and Youth Courts, if the municipality does not have the Guardianship Council. Other agencies that can also receive the complaint are the Child and Adolescent Protection Police Stations, as well as the Women’s Police Stations. There is also an application for tablets and smartphones called Proteja Brasil, which shows the location and phones of the specialized institution closest to where the whistleblower is; in case of doubts about the type of violence, the application can assist with the necessary information.

Also, another way to make a complaint can be via Dial 100 – Human Rights, channel in which “complaints may be anonymous or, when requested by the whistleblower, is guaranteed the confidentiality of the source of information” (BRASIL, s/d). So if people are afraid about involvement in cases of violation of rights, as in the case of Child Sexual Abuse, anyone can make the complaint without being identified, including the school staff members themselves. The important thing is that you do not stop denouncing, since the omission is as serious an act as the act of violence itself. The ECA, in a single paragraph of Art. 70-B, makes it clear that

São igualmente responsáveis pela comunicação de que trata este artigo, as pessoas encarregadas, por razão de cargo, função, ofício, ministério, profissão ou ocupação, do cuidado, assistência ou guarda de crianças e adolescentes, punível, na forma deste Estatuto, o injustificado retardamento ou omissão, culposos ou dolosos (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, it is evident the responsibility and mission of people who are somehow involved in the life of the child and adolescent, to denounce the violation of their rights, including to denounce an act as serious as sexual abuse. Among the people who carry this obligation, educators are those who have a very important role in children’s lives, so it is essential that they are involved in the denunciation and combating of child sexual abuse.

Based on the authors described, it was possible to perceive the great relevance of doing studies focused on the area of child sexual abuse, since, as mentioned, it is a serious, complex phenomenon, and that brings suffering in different ways to many children and adolescents worldwide. Thinking about measures that combat this evil is the responsibility of professionals from different areas. Thus, this paper will be questioned about the teacher’s involvement with the problem, without disregarding the preparation that the school and educational psychologist should have to work with the process of orientation of these educators who, as Martins (2003) suggests, should be an agent of change, acting as one who centralizes reflections and awareness about the roles of the various groups that make up the institution.


The present research was carried out during 2016 and is characterized as a research of an applied nature, qualitative, exploratory approach, considering its objectives, whose technical procedure was the survey procedure (GERHARDT; SILVEIRA, 2009).


Four volunteer participants in this research were four teachers who worked in a public school in a municipality in the interior of the State of São Paulo, teaching to elementary school students. Table 01 below, for the reader’s knowledge, presents the fictitious name of each participant, the gender, age, time of formation of each of them, as well as the time of experience in the area and the time of experience in the school in which the interviews were conducted.

Table 01 – Fictitious name of participants, gender, age, time of training, experience in the area and experience in this school.

Participant Sex Age Training


Experience Time in the area Time of experience in this school
Maria female 44 years old 14 years old 11 years old 4 years old
Noemi female 51 years old 30 years old 20 years old 4 years old
Gleice female 49 years old 16 years old 15 years old 9 years old
Pedro male 26 years old 4 years old 5 years old 11 months

Source: prepared by the authors.

Participants were invited to participate in this research for convenience. Gil (2008) states that the choice of volunteers for convenience happens through the access that the researcher has, allowing the sample to represent the universe.


Data were collected through a semi-structured interview script, elaborated by the researchers of this study, whose main questions were related to the objective of the research and could be complemented with other questions according to the circumstances of the interview. With the consent of the participants, an audio recording was used to favor the transcription and reliability of the collected data.A Free and Informed Consent Form (TCLE) was also used, which documents the participant’s consent to participate in the research. Another indispensable material was the Authorization Statement of the Institution where the research was carried out, which records the permission of the use of its facilities as well as the conduct of the interview with people who were members of it.


The researcher contacted the principal responsible for the school in which the teachers who participated in this research are taught, so that she could sign the Institution’s Authorization Statement allowing data collection at the school. Following the data collection procedure, the project of this research was submitted to the evaluation and evaluation of the Ethics and Scientific Merit Committee of the Hermínio Ometto Foundation, via Plataforma Brasil. On April 20, 2016, this research was approved by the committee of ethics, based on the issuance of the Emsubstantiated Opinion of the CEP of no. 1,511,605. After, and only after the approval of this committee, the researcher had access to the volunteer teachers who were appointed by the school coordinator, since she had knowledge about the availability of teachers’ schedule. All interviews took place according to the availability of each participant’s schedule.


For this research, the data were analyzed based on the Content Analysis technique. This technique has two functions: one refers to the verification of hypotheses, being able to find answers to the questions formulated, confirming or not the statements made previously; another is to find out what is behind the manifested content, looking not only at the appearances of what is being communicated, but also at latent content. These two functions can be complemented (MINAYO, 2001).

Among the various modalities of Content Analysis, we highlight: Lexical Analysis, Expression Analysis, Relationship Analysis, Thematic Analysis and Enunciation Analysis. In this research, a Thematic Analysis was made, which works with the notion of theme and is linked to a statement in relation to the subject, and holds a bundle of relationships and can be represented graphically through a abstract, phrase or word.

Thus, based on the answers obtained by the participants, two categories of analysis were developed. Initially, after data collection, the interviews were transcribed and placed in tables for a better organization and visualization of the information, one with the literal and complete transcription of the interviews, another with the highlight of the most significant excerpts of the interviews, and in the third table these points were correlated, highlighting similarities and differences in the answers given by the interviewees. In the text referring to the Results and Discussion, clippings of the interviews were made, which were literally cited, being analyzed and discussed from theoretical foundations. Thus, the 1st category was constituted, which discussed the responsibility of the school in the prevention, suspicion or identification of child sexual abuse, from the point of view of volunteers, as well as the practices of this institution in this regard, and the 2nd category addressed the training and preparation of teachers regarding the prevention, suspicion and identification of possible victims, as well as their actions and experiences on the subject.


The results obtained in this research will be presented and discussed in the light of theoretical basis and the reports of the teachers interviewed, in order to know and reflect on their position in relation to the suspicion and identification of sexual abuse towards their students, as well as the position of these professionals regarding prevention in the school context.


In this category, it was committed to discussing the responsibility of the school in the prevention, suspicion or identification of child sexual abuse, according to the eyes of the teachers interviewed, as well as the practices of this institution in this regard. To talk about the position of the school on the theme discussed here, is also to talk about educators and vice versa, because when discussing the positioning of teachers regarding the problem in front of their students, as presented by the title of this research, is also discussed about the school as a whole, since teachers are part of this institution and their practices say not only about each professional itself, but also about the institution as a whole. When asked about the existence or not of some responsibility of the school in the face of the theme there were divergent opinions. Maria and Pedro stated that the school has a responsibility:

Yes, yes. I see it this way: we teachers are instructed to first be discreet, if we already notice a change in the behavior of the child […] from there we should approach, right, be more attentive with the look; and then see if there is something wrong, and if it is the case to ask to ask, and then communicate the direction, so that the direction takes the steps to communicate Tutelary Council, make the complaint, if necessary – (Maria).

Yes, the school… guidance, information, everything that the school can, so, give, right, a support, right, because we are not here simply to pass a content, we are also to train people, right – (Pedro).

Professor Gleice, on the other hand, said that the school is not able to assume such responsibility:

The school can’t do that. Like I told you, if the girl comes and says to you like this, “My stepfather is abusing.” What do we have to do? Call mom, call dad, call everybody, understand? Let the family know about it, and the family to make arrangements. Because we, if you go there to do an Police Report at last this ends badly for you, you can they reverse the family, talk so that it is you who […] abuses it, you who had some bad intention, understand? So we don’t take responsibility. What we see, there is no way we can prove […] – (Gleice).

Gleice makes it clear that, for her, the school has no responsibility, other than to warn the family about it and expect it to take some action. In addition, she spoke of a fear of getting involved in a gender situation, in order to make a complaint and be accused of being the abuser herself. Still, he talked about not taking action because there is no way to prove that, in fact, sexual abuse has occurred, an argument that resembles that of Noemi who, unlike Gleice, did not say that the school has no responsibility on the subject, however, he said that the school can only be held responsible if it is sure that the sexual abuse has happened:

Oh, I think the school has to take responsibility when it’s sure, right […] the most we can do is a conversation with this child, but I don’t know if we can go too deep in feeling like that… let this child badly or you keep talking around someone, so I find it very difficult in the teacher-student relationship in elementary school where the classes are crowded you notice and talk, so I think it would be necessary in school to have psychologists, right, that so, the teacher pays attention, but she directs someone to talk, because for us it is much more complicated […] so I find it very difficult to address this problem with the child at school – (Noemi).

Another striking point in Noemi’s speech was when she said that the most she could do would be to have a conversation with the child who presents suspicion or who reports a situation of sexual abuse, and soon after said that it is difficult to understand and talk to a student about it, due to overcrowding of the classrooms, stating that this would be a difficult job for a teacher and explains that he thinks it is necessary for the school to have at his disposal a psychology professional for him to take action in relation to the child. The worrying thing about Noemi’s speech is that she reported on the school being responsible only if she is sure of the aforementioned violence; then said that what can be done is a conversation with the student about the problem, but soon after, reported that it is difficult for the teacher to have such a conversation with the student or to notice any evidence of sexual abuse in front of them. So if the school will only be responsible if the abuse is confirmed, then for Gleice, the school is not committed to acting on the prevention and suspicion of child sexual abuse. Still, how will she take responsibility for the fact that she is done if the teacher in the classroom can’t at least talk to her students about it? It is known that, in fact, many public schools face the problem of overcrowding in the classroom, as shown by the participants of the research by Mariano and Muniz (2006), which analyzed the relationship between mental health and the work of teachers of the public network of the municipality of João Pessoa – PB. In this research, the teachers also talked about the subject stating that the overcrowding of students in the classrooms interferes in the teaching-learning process and makes it difficult for the teacher to be able to offer attention directed to all (MARIANO; MUNIZ, 2006, p.83).

However, given the reality, it is necessary that the school team think about strategies of how to deal with the situation, doing everything possible so that their students are not left out in this sense, since one of the school’s attributions is to promote the protection of children and adolescents in the face of violation of their rights (INOUE; RISTUM, 2008).

The stance presented by Noemi limits the responsibility of the school as much as that of Gleice, who said that what the school can do is talk to the family, so that it makes the appropriate attitudes, even if the child reportedly tells the school that she was sexually abused. The teacher has set out a position to avoid taking other steps for fear of being harmed in some way, and she makes this clear in her speech: “A teacher who will want to report, you end up losing your position, because you have no evidence, you need proof.”

Gleice’s position is similar to that of Noemi, since she said that what she has to do is talk to the family, but then stated that it is also difficult to do it and also end up being harmed, if this family comes back against the teacher: “But there are people who already face, no longer admit, you already see that you will make shack, “Where has you ever been seen to say it like that,” “You don’t know me,” so what are you going to do? It’s the child talking, how are you going to talk?” So, if for fear of being harmed, the school does not make a complaint and does not communicate the family, what would be the position of the school? When Gleice said, “What are you going to talk about?”, it is understood that she is stating that she has nothing to say. That is, for her, the school has nothing to do in these cases and, therefore, declared: “[…] we do not take responsibility”.

In fact, it may happen that the family, in addition to denying that sexual abuse may have happened, still stand up against the school for taking action on what happened, however, the institution can take an attitude preserving the integrity of educators by complaint to the Guardianship Council, seeking in this body also guidelines on how to proceed in these cases, or even making an anonymous complaint depending on the situation through dial 100, in which secrecy is guaranteed about the source of information (BRASIL, s/d). This method ensures that the whistleblower does not suffer any damage and allows all cases to be reported.

Thus, Gleice’s speech when he stated that “The school cannot do this”, evidences the fact that there is a contradiction between what the legislation provides and what happens in practice, considering, for example, the sole Paragraph of Art. 70-B of the ECA, which provides:

São igualmente responsáveis pela comunicação de que trata este artigo, as pessoas encarregadas, por razão de cargo, função, ofício, ministério, profissão ou ocupação, do cuidado, assistência ou guarda de crianças e adolescentes, punível, na forma deste Estatuto, o injustificado retardamento ou omissão, culposos ou dolosos (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, the non-reporting is as serious as the practice of child sexual abuse itself, since those who do not report it end up being conniving with the situation. In addition, the school is an institution that already carries the responsibility to provide assistance to its students, and the school staff needs to be clear about this. Thus, it can be said that it is inappropriate to posture a school that tries not to engage with cases such as sexual violence, since it is an important institution for work against the violation of the rights of children and adolescents, as shown by Inoue and Ristum (2008) and is a fundamental part of a network, as discussed in the theoretical review of this work, not only for the formation of identity and socialization of the student, but also with regard to the protection of the child.

This discussion proposed by the authors is close to the speech of teacher Pedro, who presented the perspective that the school has a responsibility for sexual abuse in front of its students, and states that whatever the school can, it must do in defense of them, since the school does not have the commitment only to make its students learn the content of the subjects and, unlike the Speech of Noemi and Gleice, Pedro was consistent with the discussion of Inoue and Ristum (2008) although his speech was brief and did not score how, then, the school could act to fulfill this responsibility. On the other hand, Professor Maria, who was also a supporter of the idea that the school is responsible in the face of child sexual abuse, spoke more about what she could do in the face of this, referring to a process of identifying a case of sexual abuse and said that teachers are instructed to be discreet, pay attention to changes in student behavior, approach them, pay attention to the students’ eyes, check if something is wrong and, if applicable, ask the student about the subject and then communicate the school board so that the student makes the complaint if necessary.

In fact, the points addressed by Maria are important since being discreet when there is a suspicion is essential to prevent the child or adolescent from being exposed before her colleagues and, in addition, discretion and care when talking to the student about this subject are necessary so that he is not raped once again, reliving the situation of violence every time you have to repeat what happened. Another interesting point mentioned by the teacher is the importance of paying attention to the changes in the behavior of the students, and this not only for the identification of child sexual abuse, but also for other possible situations that the child may be facing, considering the possibility that their rights are being violated in several other ways.

Still, as Maria pointed out, it is important that there be an approximation of the student, and having a conversation with him is also indispensable for the process of identifying sexual abuse and, it is interesting that this movement happens beyond as Maria said: “[…] If it is the case to ask to ask […]”; this because the conversation with the student does not need to happen in the face of a very evident suspicion of sexual abuse, it is even in small circumstances where the teacher may suspect that there may be something different with children and/or adolescents. Moreover, the small indications that victims of child sexual abuse (as well as any type of violence or neglect) manifest, should be taken into account and may be decisive for the identification process and thus for taking action to stop sexual abuse to which the child or adolescent may be subjected, as well as the removal of the child from the coexistence of his/her aggressor, who, in addition to everything, may be causing psychological suffering, causing the victim to remain under threat.

Considering that the ECA provides in its article 131, in which it clearly determines that “The Guardianship Council is a permanent and autonomous, non-judicial body, charged by society with the fulfillment of the rights of children and adolescents, defined in this Law” (BRASIL, 1990), the Guardianship Council has a duty to act in zeal for the rights of children and adolescents. Thus, as Quadros (2014) states, it is up to the Guardianship Council to evaluate the situation in care of these children and adolescents and decide whether there is a need for protection measures, and what actions best preserve their rights guaranteed by law. Therefore, if the school contacts the aforementioned institution, the Guardianship Council must take the appropriate measures in relation to the case, and may even, as provided for in art. 136, sole paragraph of the ECA, if it deems it necessary, remove the child or adolescent from family life, and must communicate to the Public Prosecutor’s Office providing him/her with information about the reason for such understanding and attitudes taken for guidance, support and social promotion of the family (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, the school’s commitment to identify and report cases of sexual abuse can change the history of children and adolescents. As provided for in the ECA, the school, as one of the fundamental social institutions in the development of children and adolescents, has the duty to be responsible for the fulfillment of the integral protection of this public, considering that social commitment and action on children and adolescents victims of any type of violence is a legal obligation of educational institutions. The law is clear in determining that in cases of suspicion or confirmation of violence against the child or adolescent are mandatorily notified to the Guardianship Council, without excluding other legal measures (BRASIL, 1990). Faced with more than one commitment, an obligation of the school to notify the Guardianship Council in cases of suspicion or confirmation of child sexual abuse, only one of the teachers interviewed mentioned the complaint to this body, in this case, the interviewee Maria.

Another important aspect to be discussed is that, Professor Gleice, several times during the interview, repeated as an argument for the non-attitude of the school towards child sexual abuse that: “What we see, there is no way we can prove […]”, however, it is important to know that it is not up to the school or the teacher to ascertain and confirm whether or not there was sexual abuse with a particular student. The school’s obligation, according to the law, is to report not only confirmed cases, but also those of suspected sexual abuse. Many of these crimes are not denounced by the same fear of Gleice, that it cannot be proven, or because it is not certain of what happened, and because of this many children are not rested and released from the situation of abuse and other violence before their aggressor. However, suspicion is already a very important reason for a complaint and, if the abuse is not confirmed, the fact that the Guardianship Council has been notified will not cause any harm to the child or school, as well as to their professionals.

Not only the Guardianship Council, but the Specialized Police Or Public Prosecutor’s Office have the competence to accept the complaints made and solve the cases referred. In addition, as Pereira and Conceição (2014, p.142), point out, “In cases of risks to the physical integrity of the school or teacher, the State or Municipal Departments of Education must offer protection and support to the school community.” Thus, the fear that Gleice presented in his speech: “[…] finally this ends badly for you […]”, referring to the teacher himself being harmed by making a complaint of sexual abuse, having as victim one of his students, could not be a hindrance to the performance of the school in the face of this responsibility, if it sought support in these means of protection to the school community, or if only i had knowledge about it.

It is important to note that the monitoring of complaints made by schools as well as by other sectors of the State or Municipal Departments of Education offers teachers the guarantee that notified cases will not be forgotten (PEREIRA; CONCEIÇÃO, 2014, p.137). Unfortunately, the school has acted little in relation to allegations of child sexual abuse, as shown by the aforementioned research by Habigzang et al. (2005, p. 344),

A violência sexual foi denunciada pela mãe da vítima em 37,6% dos casos, pela própria vítima em 29% dos casos, por outros parentes, em 15,1%, e, por instituições, tais como, escola, hospital e departamento de polícia em 6,5% dos casos.

This research is only a clipping, but denounces the macro situation of difficulty that institutions such as schools present to report situations of suspicion or confirmation of child sexual abuse to protection agencies, although the complaint is a procedure determined by law.

An important aspect regarding the teachers’ speech is that none of them mentioned the responsibility of the school in the prevention of child sexual abuse, some of which were some of them permeated in a certain way only by the process of suspicion and identification of violence. The interviewee Maria, despite having been the one who most mentioned the performance in relation to child sexual abuse in her school, also did not present any talk about the responsibility of the institution regarding the so important prevention.

When asked if the school in which they work practices any prevention action against child sexual abuse, the teachers interviewed presented similar answers and discrepant arguments. Maria said:

Look, I know you have a program […] that works a lot on children’s sexuality, that works more in science […] classes. So you talked a lot about sex, but not exactly about the abuse, you understand? […] In the Portuguese it’s all about, because our focus is communication. I can discuss any matter; if it comes up we touch the subject, we can talk, and if the material brings us brings and debate, right. But so, a specific job I believe I never participated – (Maria).

It can be observed in the teacher’s speech that the theme of sexuality is probably worked with the students in science classes, which is common to the discipline itself, since, among other things, it studies the human body. It is understood that these discussions are extremely important to inform and raise awareness among students about their body and sexuality. However, Maria reported that the topic of sexual abuse is not specifically explored with the students of the school. She also reported that in her Portuguese is free to discuss on any subject, but that only that it does “if it comes up” (sic.) or “if the material brings” (sic.), that is, there is no program that ensures that there is a work to prevent sexual abuse before the students of this school.

Noemi, on the other hand, had an emphatic discourse stating that the school does not have practices to prevent the violence in question, but, as Maria mentioned about the possibility of something about sexuality being worked on in disciplines such as science or biology:

I’ve never worked in any school that practiced any of this; the only… the only projects I know inside the school is about drugs, right, ah…. sexually transmitted diseases, but child sexual abuse has never been spoken of. A topic addressed, thus, that I have seen lectures in schools, never; that I’ve seen projects to work with, never. Unless you have, like, with the professor of science, biology, right that maybe work something with this topic, but I have never seen, thus, something that is interdisciplinary, no – (Noemi).

As already mentioned, discussions about sex and the human body are indispensable in the school context with the specific disciplines of the subject, but it is not enough to obtain the prevention of sexual abuse. It is serious the speech of Noemi when he said that he was never talked about child sexual abuse with the students of the school and that there were never lectures or projects on this topic. That is, according to Noemi, there is no movement on the problem in front of students, who are absolutely devoid of even small information that could be important to them for their self-protection.

Gleice also stated that the school does not have practices to prevent child sexual abuse, but its argument differed from that of the other participants:

No, imagine! Because they are all evangelicals, girl, you will open your mouth, you will say that you are inducing their children to something (laughs). […] usually up to the issue of sexuality, these themes so have a government project that he tries to contain teenage pregnancy because that’s cost to him, right. Then he tries to contain the pregnancy, then he sends the whole project ready, the biology teacher and some other area closer that works it. But these themes are not worked on in school – (Gleice).

Gleice, in addition to stating that the school does not intervene in relation to the prevention of child sexual abuse, still places institution as if it were unable to deal with topics like these in front of its students. In fact, issues that refer to sexuality are still censored and as discussed here, seen as taboo in the 21st century. However, there is a need to think about strategies to deal with the situation. In addition, it may occur that not only families, but even educators shy away from the subject. Beiras; Tagliamento and Toneli (2005) in the research in which they conducted a training with educators of the Morro da Cruz Massif Forum, in Florianópolis/SC, in order to stimulate reflection on issues related to sexuality and gender in schools, found that work on sexuality in these institutions is still covered with controversy due to the diversity of views, values and beliefs of students, parents, teachers and principals in relation to the theme. According to the authors, the difficulties begin with the very sexuality of educators, who feel uncomfortable to establish a frank conversation with students on certain topics, making it difficult to face unexpected circumstances that constantly arise in the school context.

Thus, taboos must be broken not only from the students’ parents, who are to whom Gleice referred in his speech, but also of all those involved in the school context, including the school team itself, so that it can potentially work with students for these more sensitive subjects such as child sexual abuse.

On the school’s practices regarding the prevention of child sexual abuse, Professor Pedro stated that, as a relatively new teacher at the institution, he could not answer this question with ownership, but mentioned an important figure in the school context; this is the so-called Mediator Professor:

Look, I’ve only been here a short time, so that question I can’t answer. Sincerely… and how… it’s not even a year since I’m here, so I don’t know if it’s ever been done, but I remember that until last year i had a mediating teacher and it helped a lot to my view, right, because she always gave the service to the students, so if some teacher wanted to talk about some problem, some conflict, something, about that particular student she was always ready, right, and also the direction was aware of all this, right, the direction of the school, so I think the mediating teacher, that there was this project in the state network is something that helped, right – (Pedro).

The creation of the role of the School and Community Mediator Teacher (PMEC) occurred through the implementation of the Protection System in public schools in the State of São Paulo. It is an initiative that brings together interdependent and correlated actions aimed at protecting all actors of the school community, including parents, students, teachers and employees, whether in relation to the most serious acts of indiscipline and conflicts that affect the various school segments, or regarding the commission of crimes, as well as any other vulnerability factor to which the school may be exposed (LEANDRO, 2014). Resolution SE 19/2010 officially instituted the School Protection System (SPE) in the São Paulo state network, and was amended on January 20, 2012 by Resolution SE No. 07, which provides for:

Artigo 10 – O artigo 7º da Resolução SE nº 19, de 12 de fevereiro de 2010, passa a vigorar com a seguinte redação: “Art. 7º – Na implementação das ações específicas do Sistema de Proteção Escolar, a escola poderá contar com até 2 (dois) docentes para atuarem como Professor Mediador Escolar e Comunitário, cujas atribuições consistem, precipuamente, em: I – adotar práticas de mediação de conflitos no ambiente escolar e apoiar o desenvolvimento de ações e programas de Justiça Restaurativa; II – orientar os pais dos alunos, ou responsáveis, sobre o papel da família no processo educativo; III – analisar os fatores de vulnerabilidade e de risco a que possam estar expostos os alunos; IV – orientar a família, ou responsáveis, quanto à procura de serviços de proteção social; V – identificar e sugerir atividades pedagógicas complementares, a serem realizadas pelos alunos fora do período letivo; VI – orientar e apoiar os alunos na prática de seus estudos” (NR) (SÃO PAULO, 2012).

Therefore, the School and Community Mediator Teacher should present advantages in the interpersonal communication of the school community, providing an improvement in the school environment and contributing to the integral formation of the student. “Preserving and anticipating to prevent relationships between professionals and students, among students who diverge from each other, raising awareness of the need for conscious discipline, such as self-care” (LEANDRO, 2014, p.92).

Thus, the PMEC can act in schools assisting, among other things, in the work of prevention, suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse. However, as already stated here, it is known that reality differs from what is provided for by law in many public and private institutions, and the school is one of them. As Professor Pedro showed in his speech, there is no longer in this school the performance of a PMEC and, moreover, starting from the discourse of the other teachers interviewed, who work longer in this institution specifically, nor at other times there was a specific work regarding Child Sexual Abuse and no other participant mentioned any action by teachers who mediated in this school.

Given what was exposed by the teachers participating in this research, it was possible to perceive that the school remains at large from prevention actions against child sexual abuse, as well as presents a difficulty in strategies to deal with the suspicion and identification of such violence. Besides, the awareness itself about the institution’s responsibility on the subject is not clear to the entire school team, based on the interviewees’ notes. Thus, it is perceived that institutionally this school presents important gaps in the theme; it is now proposed, in this discussion, to reflect on the teacher specifically, from the eyes of the interviewees themselves.


the last category of analysis aims to discuss the preparation of teachers regarding the identification of possible victims, as well as their actions and experiences in relation to child sexual abuse in front of their students. when questioned consider themselves prepared to identify possible victims of child sexual abuse, the teachers interviewed made it clear that they do not feel prepared for this action in front of their students. Maria declared that:

No. I think I need more information. What I have is the natural sensitivity of being human. Because that’s the way it is, what I get from guidance, if you suspect anything, let us know. I base myself more on what my knowledge of the world, my perception, but I don’t think I’m prepared not – (Maria).

Like Maria, Gleice also mentioned the experience as something that helps her in the process of identifying child sexual abuse:

I course, I have no course, right, but we, so, by experience, right, so, by behavior of students, there by what they usually speak […], right, because they count, right. Then you end up associating a little, right the situation in particular, right, suddenly it may be happening, right – (Gleice).

In addition, Gleice was concerned about talking about the student who is a victim of sexual abuse from the perspective of learning theoretical content, or because of the difficulty that the child presents in this learning process, saying that he tries to find ways to make such a child produce good grades, due to a government demand that, according to her, does not care about the emotional situation of the student, unless it is “proven” (sic.):

[…] the student does not learn anything, a student who does not socialize, and the government sends proof wanting a note from him. So I need to identify, right, what’s going on to have a conversation there with him to see if I can make him produce something … Oh what a wickedthing! (laughs). The problem of himself, which is to solve his whole life I can not, I have to solve the problem of the government, that he wants to note, he wants him to know all the contents, but then you say: “Oh, but the person is with some problem, right, emotional, he must be going through something”. Do you have a way to prove it?(laughs) No, no. […] But as it is not laudado the State does not recognize this student as DI. And then it requires that he have the same learning, the same, right, performance as the others, and then? – (Gleice).

Gleice resumed with his speech, speeches already presented in this discussion, that the teacher has no way to prove what he sees, and again this occupies a place of obstacles of actions against sexual abuse before students. In this sense, the teacher is even more emphatic in saying that her word has no value, and also talks about her position as to what she teaches her students:

I mean, my word is no use at school, you understand? Teacher’s word, direction’s no use. You may die from seeing things here, but it’s no use. Until the family makes an attitude, goes there to do his report, go there… it’s no use, what I say, what I see is no good. Highly frustrating this profession (laughs); we would say that it is garbage, because I teach a lot of things like this, that I keep thinking: “People this is so disused, it is so useless that, so, so, out of the cable” (laughs). It’s so much garbage for their minds and what I really needed to teach, that would be good for them we can’t, we bump into the family, bump into society, bump into the police station, if you can prove it, bump into the…. If you’re going to refer to the doctor, “Yes, then, but who told you that?” Am I going to tell you it was me? (laughs). So it’s garbage, just crap, you see and can’t do anything, understand? – (Gleice).

In addition to Gleice, Noemi also resumes the idea that in the face of an action taken by the teacher, the child can deny that the abuse has happened, and this has no way to prove the fact, and ends up being harmed. She claims that she is not prepared to identify possible victims:

I guess i don’t […] like that i’m going to approach this kid, understand? What’s she going to tell me, and then I’m going to answer who? I’m going to go the direction, and the board will go to the Guardianship Council, and suddenly at the time that child denies it, or the parents or the person who abused it will stay on top of that child, or even on top of me; I find it a very complicated situation. […] So, I think I’m not prepared for this, because suddenly this child arrives, and I’m noticing, I can even communicate the direction to call the Guardianship Council, but I go talk, I go after this child, I go after the family, no – (Noemi).

Teacher Pedro presented the perspective that the school’s management would be better prepared to identify sexual abuse in front of its students, since it takes care not only of one class, but of all:

No, I don’t consider myself prepared because I don’t know of the little experience I still have, right, in the classroom, but that’s not the case, either, I believe. But I think that by my training, that I believe that other professionals, right, who are sometimes even in a hierarchy greater than mine within the school, have other visions and other decisions, right, to be taken before that, due to the function of the person, so are other experiences, right, that the hierarchy has … the larger hierarchy, right, school management, right, who is director, vice, they have another way of dealing, another vision, have gone through more things than the people who are teachers, not only because they are so in a larger hierarchy, but it is because this case of … of their professionalism, right to solve things and conflicts in schools, right, because they take the conflict in general, we only take one room, they do not, they have to embrace the whole school, so practically, right, because it is within the responsibility of its direction. – (Pedro).

Given the idea that Pedro expresses that the management would be more capable of playing the role of identifying cases of suspected sexual abuse in front of students, one can think about how this would be possible if it were not for a work that had the entire school team. Cardoso and Menezes (2009) discuss the importance of the qualification and sensitization of state agents about the abuse to take place in an unrestricted and constant way, permeating the work of both professionals involved directly with children and adolescents, as well as those who have occasional contacts, such as administrative employees. Thus, it is understood that in the school context, this preparation should be done with all the employees of the institution, that is, not only to hold the school’s management responsible for the problem, but also to hold the teacher responsible for it. It is necessary that the entire school team is attentive to the identification of possible victims, ranging from principals, coordinators, teachers, to employees who work in the administrative part, in the kitchen, in the hygiene of the school environment, etc.

Pedro also mentioned his little experience as a teacher who has less time in this area compared to the other teachers at the school where he works and said he did not consider himself prepared to identify child sexual abuse. Despite saying that “this is not the case” (sic.), when talking about his little experience, he addressed in his speech about the experience (or lack thereof). Gleice also presented during the interview this perspective of “experience” (sic.) as something that can contribute to the process of identifying sexual abuse before students, by saying that it has no support of any course that prepares it for this action. It can be said that Maria also addressed these means that she uses to act in the face of the problem, being, in her words, “the natural sensitivity of a human being”, “my knowledge of the world” (sic.).

This is said, it is possible to think about several aspects that permeate the work of teachers in the face of the identification of sexual abuse. It cannot be disregarded that the experience, the skills that each person has to perceive certain situations, regardless of whether he is an educator or not, can contribute to the process of identifying child sexual abuse, however, this is little to make a person properly prepared to combat aforementioned violence. Libâneo (2002) discusses the teacher’s work as a practical and two-way action, that of being an ethical practice oriented by objectives (involving, then, reflection) and that of being an instrumental action appropriate to situations; reflection on practice is not enough to solve everything, and the reflected experience also does not solve everything. Thus, “strategies, procedures, ways of doing, and a solid general culture are needed, which help to better perform their work and improve the reflexive capacity on what and how to change” (LIBÂNEO, 2002, p.76).

In this sense, it can be said that there is a need for preparation and reflection of teachers in the face of various problems in the school context. Gleice, besides mentioning about the experience as the only basis for their actions in the face of the identification of child sexual abuse, she presents in her speech another aspect, which is the learning of the student who went through violence. It is true that, in fact, the child who is a victim of sexual abuse may have different school problems, as Papalia, Olds and Feldman (2006) denote, and it is important that the teacher works to try to give this student the necessary support in the face of their difficulties.

Another point taken by the teacher is about her unpreparedness regarding the identification of child sexual abuse under the following argument: “Can you prove it?”. At another point she said that the teacher’s word has no value: “Teacher’s word, from the direction is no good. You may die from seeing things here, but it’s no use.” Noemi also regained the fact that he has no means of proving that the abuse occurred or that the child claimed it; she again presented a fear of being harmed in reporting her suspicions, when she said, “I will seek direction, and the board will seek the Guardianship Council, and suddenly at the time that child denies it, or the parents or the person who abused it will stay on top of that child, or even on top of me.” As already discussed in the previous analysis category, there are ways to take action on child sexual abuse without harming the teacher and even without being identified.

It is understood once again that there is a need for teachers to be more informed about the subject; one can also think that many times, these professionals end up not taking attitudes on the subject due to this lack of information, but also due to the absence of team discussions, so that it is strengthened both in knowledge and in strategies to deal with different situations in front of their students.

Another important aspect to be scored is about the demotivation in which many teachers have found themselves. This can be illustrated with Gleice’s speech, in which she stated: “[…] Guys, this is so disused, it’s so useless that, so, so, out of the cape” (laughs). It’s so much garbage for their minds and what I really needed to teach, that would be good for them we can’t […]”. It is known that the teacher is inserted in an adverse reality, which is accompanied by low remuneration, recognition and professional qualification, which can generate feelings of discouragement, tiredness, apathy, hopelessness and passivity among teachers, who feel they are without recourse to face all these demands and pressures (PATIAS; BLANCO; ABAID, 2009).

Thus, the teacher’s gaze permeates these factors and in many cases ends up having a bad result in his professional practice. The term “garbage”, used by Gleice can tell a little about this situation experienced by teachers of Brazilian education. Logically, one cannot diagnose and say about the reasons why the teacher presented such a speech, however it is possible to reflect through it on situations in which teachers have been found and about the perspective they end up having in relation to their work.

Gleice complains that he has to respond to the Government with good grades from his students, having to teach them the intended content, and that therefore he cannot teach what he thinks is important; this referring to the lack of actions on your part against sexual abuse in front of your students. It is understood that the teacher needs to follow a programmatic content established for each period that the students attend in their school phase; however, it is known that it is necessary that the teacher has the ability to promote strategies to deal with situations beyond the theoretical content, since, as discussed here, the school has the duty to train subjects in different areas that involve their development, as well as is responsible for acting in protection of its students.

O Art. 277 of the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil of 1988, which is the law governing the country, provides that:

É dever da família, da sociedade e do Estado assegurar à criança, ao adolescente e ao jovem, com absoluta prioridade, o direito à vida, à saúde, à alimentação, à educação, ao lazer, à profissionalização, à cultura, à dignidade, ao respeito, à liberdade e à convivência familiar e comunitária, além de colocá-los a salvo de toda forma de negligência, discriminação, exploração, violência, crueldade e opressão.

Therefore, everyone, without exception, must be committed to providing the child and adolescent with what is provided for in this law, since in this article it covers not only the family and the State, but the whole society as responsible for compliance with this law. Moreover, as already discussed here, the school, while the important role it plays in the lives of its students has an even more significant commitment to compliance with this law and teachers as important agents to their students, cannot neglect and stop moving actions that promote movements that move toward compliance with this law.

With this, one can think: the teacher must teach the student the content provided by the governmental sphere, but, on the other hand, without failing to comply with their responsibilities regarding compliance with the laws before the child and adolescent in the midst of their work. Therefore, it is noticed once again that there is a lack of information, preparation and strategy to teachers, who end up not knowing how to deal with the situation, and many are not even aware of their responsibilities to children and adolescents, which ends up resulting in the students’ lack of protection in many aspects, as well as child sexual abuse.

Regarding the training of education professionals in relation to child sexual abuse, some of the interviewed participants evaluated that it is mild and precarious:

Very light, very light. I think I’d need to take care, especially these days. […] I think you should have more information; I feel this neediness as a teacher – (Maria).

Oh, I think it’s precarious still, right? […] The formation today we do not have this orientation, right […] – (Noemi).

Other teachers stated that they had no training in this regard:

No, you don’t. The government even says it has, sends you some courses to read there (laughs) if you understand, understand, if you do not understand (laughs)… I don’t even know if you have, I’ve never taken a course like this, I don’t remember seeing any such guidance – (Gleice).

Honestly, we… we were not prepared, we were not, so, instructed, right […] i think we lack, lack … some project, something that […] empowers teachers and… right, give at least the basics so that we can pass this from there – (Pedro).

This lack of preparation mentioned by the interviewees is a reality that seriously hurts what is foreseen in the ECA:

Art. 70-B.  As entidades, públicas e privadas, que atuem nas áreas a que se refere o art. 71, dentre outras, devem contar, em seus quadros, com pessoas capacitadas a reconhecer e comunicar ao Conselho Tutelar suspeitas ou casos de maus-tratos praticados contra crianças e adolescentes (BRASIL, 1990).

Thus, the law provides that professionals in the areas of information, culture, leisure, entertainment, among others, need to be able to recognize and report possible cases of violation of the right of children and adolescents, and this includes violence such as sexual abuse (BRASIL, 1990).

Given the lame training in preparing professionals to face violence, and the need for teacher training to do so, Pereira and Conceição (2014) point out that some proposals have emerged. One of them is the creation of the School Guide in 2003, created in joint action between the Department of Education, Literacy and Diversity (Secad) and the Special Secretariat for Human Rights (SEDH), aiming to assist as an instrument to educators in relation to the identification of signs of sexual abuse and exploitation against children and adolescents.

The School that Protects project is another proposal, developed by the Ministry of Education in 2004 through Secad with the purpose of enabling educational actions and preparation to face violence against children and adolescents. In 2006, the training of teachers and other professionals in the field of education to act as important actors in the guarantee of the rights of children and adolescents was determined as a basic priority. The training took place by the Federal University of Santa Catarina through a distance education course, followed by a face-to-face stage held in all regions of Brazil by state and federal universities (PEREIRA; CONCEIÇÃO, 2014).

Pereira and Conceição (2014) also state that the course was called “Training of educators: subsidies to make in coping with violence against children and adolescents”. It is possible to notice that the concern with the construction of proposals is evident mainly in continuing education projects. However, projects related to violence against children and adolescents in the initial education of teachers are not easily found, even fewer proposals that do not have an immediate perspective for the solution of this problem.

It is understood that the search for information can be constituted as a way to prepare in the action against child sexual abuse, since, having knowledge about the subject, the possibility of prevention and suspected cases studies increases, and may also, from then on, request help to network equipment of different services, on how to act if there are doubts according to each situation. There is extensive literature on the subject, such as Secad’s notebook “Protect to Educate: school articulated with child and adolescent protection networks”, which aims to share knowledge with education professionals about different forms of violence the social contexts that promote aggressive actions and risk situations (SECAD, 2007). Having knowledge about the subject helps the professional to not let students remain unnoticed in the face of the violence suffered.

Brino and Willians (2005), as already presented in this paper, affirm that the training of teachers belongs to the primary level of prevention of child sexual abuse, which aims to eliminate or reduce social, environmental and cultural factors that are conducive to acts of aggression. At this level are also the promotion of actions with the population at risk, promoting the education of children on the risks of sexual abuse, since, as Santos and Ippolito (2009) sex education points out, sex education is the best way to prevent, because a continuing education program is able to prepare children and adolescents to defend themselves from this violence.

Another means of prevention mentioned by the authors is the social inclusion of the child considered as “different”, or rejected by the groups. “After the subjugation of the child to the sexual abuse suffered at home or in the neighborhood or his silence before him, there is usually a search for acceptance and affection of a loved one” (SANTOS; IPPOLITO, 2009, p.128). Thus, many of the children end up being victims of sexual abuse having a low level of self-esteem, usually growing in isolation in their own home and in the community in which they live, and not having fundamental sexual orientations.

Aiming at prevention, Santos and Ippolito (2009) suggest to schools that they promote the sensitization of family members responsible for the education of children and adolescents; maintain a relationship of trust with the child; devote time to it, and openly listen to what the child has to say, not trivializing his speech and; build a social support network among family members at work to protect the child.

In this sense, empowering children and mothers to recognize signs that sexual abuse is occurring can be an action that effectively stops the occurrence of such violence. This intervention directed to the child would work on the recognition of signs of approach of an aggressor, as well as on the recognition of inappropriate sexual behaviors. To mothers, the action would involve recognition of behaviors that are indicators of the abuse. In the case of actions to detect children and adolescents at risk, breaking with violent acts or their repetitions, intervening in cases already confirmed and working in the prevention of possible sequelae, this perspective fits the secondary or even tertiary prevention (BRINO; WILLIANS 2005).

Many other actions can be taken against child sexual abuse by teachers and the entire school staff. However, there is a dependence that these professionals seek support in a continuous education, since, in general, the issues that refer to human sexuality are almost absent from the curriculum of almost all courses in our country. Likewise, little is said about violence during the graduation of our professionals. Associating the lack of clarity in the concepts with an almost total ignorance about the legislation and the attributions of different institutions, if it will result, professionals unprepared to face the real cases that manifest themselves, afraid to position themselves in front of them and afraid that the referral of a suspicion may result in some legal inconvenience for this professional (LERNER, 2000).

This can all be seen in practice and illustrated by the speech of the teachers interviewed when they said about their actions regarding the prevention of child sexual abuse: “No, I have never done any project, the only thing is the observation and approximation of the student” – (Maria). This answer is repeated in similarity in Noemi’s speech: “No, I as an art teacher never addressed anything in this theme, okay?”; Maria, Noemi and Pedro clearly stated that they never promoted actions to prevent sexual abuse in front of their students. Gleice also said about his performance: “They ask, we answer, but like this, I keep talking like this, no, right; I answer for the curious […]”, however, this can not be considered a method of prevention, since answering the questions that (and if) arise is very little and, moreover, children who do not ask questions in this regard to the teacher, will remain without any information on the subject.

Assuming that child sexual abuse is more common than is exposed to society, one can think that many children and adolescents who were raped without anyone identifying what happened and moving means to stop the abuse. These victims mostly went through or went through a school period and were once students of several teachers, who did not make interventions on this. The small number of cases evident or reported in relation to the actual number of victims gives the impression that there are few cases of sexual abuse. The participants of this research talked about their experiences with a student in which there was suspicion or identification of child sexual abuse, and Noemi stated that he never came across a student in these conditions.

Professor Maria and teacher Pedro stated that they had already had a student who suffered child sexual abuse, but that they were not the ones who noticed but the school had already been informed about the case: “Yes, I have had it but it was already a fact. I understood the difference in the student, in this case, and then I went to ask, and then they said that she suffered” – (Maria); “Look, I’ve heard… It wasn’t at that school, it was at another school… I.. of a boy who was abused by his stepfather, and really he had problems, right, in the classroom” – (Pedro). Both teachers stated that they perceived that the students in question had a different attitude in the classroom, but this perception came only after they were informed about the abuse. This is another aspect that encourages reflection again on the need for training to identify possible victims of sexual abuse.

Teacher Gleice stated that there was a student who told her several things: “[…] they flirted with the girl, you know, things like that, you know, involved this girl in different ways, I don’t know if they didn’t even have sex with her […]”. Gleice also said about her attitude towards this:

Oh, I commented, right, with teachers at the Class of Collective Pedagogical Work (ATPC) […] there everyone chose to say that her behavior was bad, that she had to talk to her mother, who i don’t know what, went on to coordination. He went on to coordinate, died the subject (laughs) – (Gleice).

Gleice’s case is a situation in which the teenager told her about facts involving sexual abuse. This, in turn, reported what happened to the school staff and, from what he reported, nothing was done because of the student’s indiscipline behavior at the school. It is seen how important it is that the teacher has mastery of information about such violence, so that, instead of stigmatizing the student, understand that his position may come from a situation like this. The teacher said that she did not take other steps and that she only knows that the student mentioned began to prostitute.

Steps must be taken to make sure that children and adolescents are no longer neglected. As Pereira and Conceição (2014, p.142) argue, “School is not an island”. Although we want to exclude the theme of the different types of violence and leave it outside the school, amid the difficulty of facing situations that involve it, the lack of institutional support and means of protection for the school itself, even if it is wanted to deny it, it is present in the institution and generates discomfort in daily life, especially in the classroom, in the constitutions of the different relationships.


This work allowed us to know and discuss the positioning of teachers regarding the prevention, suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse in the school context, which was the objective of this study, achieved through a survey survey. Thus, it was possible to discuss the students’ eyes about the responsibility of the school in the face of child sexual abuse.

It can be seen that some teachers believe that the school has no responsibility for the aforementioned violence, and others understand that this institution has some duty, but these have shown that they are not aware of how responsible it is for the care and protection of children and adolescents, presenting in their statements responsibilities that would be limited to the subject, and that they fall far short of the obligations of the institution provided for by law. Thus, unfortunately, one of the hypotheses raised by the researcher in the project of this research is the ignorance on the part of teachers about the impact and responsibility regarding the theme in the school context.

In addition, it was identified that there is an avoidance on the part of teachers to engage in cases of sexual abuse in front of their students, for fear that some inconvenience will end up for these professionals. Then, it was discussed about the various ways for the school team to take actions against such violence so as not to be harmed, and, in addition, it was discussed how not to report being as serious as the child sexual abuse itself, according to Art. 70-B of the ECA (BRASIL, 1990). Some teachers mentioned that the child’s family has to take action on this, removing all responsibility or perceiving themselves in a place of impotence stating that there is nothing they can do about child sexual abuse. This also confirms another hypothesis previously raised in this study, when it is observed that teachers believe that this subject is the responsibility solely of the child’s family, since its focus is restricted to the teaching-learning process of theoretical contents. This position was not common to all interviewees, but was manifested in statements exposed by some participants.

The analysis also showed that some teachers, at various times, repeated that they fail to take certain measures regarding sexual abuse in front of their students because there is no way to prove that the abuse occurred and not even that the child or adolescent has told them anything. Thus, it was discussed that it is not up to the school or the teacher to verify whether or not there was sexual abuse with a particular student or student. The obligation of the school team determined by the ECA is to notify the Guardianship Council (without excluding other legal measures) about not only confirmation, but also suspicions of children and/or adolescents who may be suffering or have suffered sexual abuse.

It was also noticed in this research that the school does not have any action to prevent child sexual abuse. Some interviewees said that it may be that the topic is worked with students during science classes, which deals with the human body, but stated that there is no certainty that this work is being carried out. Therefore, in this school, according to the interviewees, there is no project that strengthens the team, preparing it so that it is able to provide some support to students in protection against child sexual abuse.

The teachers interviewed also stated that they never suspected and identified a child or adolescent who has suffered sexual abuse, which occurred was that some teachers had contact with students from whom the school was warned that they were victims of such violence; only one teacher stated that a student told her about having suffered sexual abuse, but there was never an action of this teacher for identification; she only knew because the child clearly told her about what happened. Thus, one can think of another hypothesis raised, which questioned whether teachers believe that they have never faced a case of a student who is a victim of sexual abuse, considering that they are not aware of how they could be aware of this phenomenon. This hypothesis is confirmed in the sense that, in fact, the interviewees stated that they lack knowledge to deal with the problem in question, and it is also confirmed to the extent that they stated that they never identified a case of sexual abuse among their students. What is not consistent with the result in relation to this hypothesis is that the teachers stated that they were already in front of a student victim of sexual abuse, however, this occurred only because they were previously informed about what happened to the child.

It is considered that all teachers reported that they did not have a training that would give them training to cope with child sexual abuse in the school context. It was seen that many teachers have only life experience as the only instrument to deal with the theme in front of their students, nevertheless, it was discussed that it is necessary that the teacher is able to promote strategies to deal with situations such as sexual violence, since the school has the duty to train subjects in different areas that involve their development, as well as is responsible for acting in protection of its students. The teachers said that, in addition to the training not offering them such training, there is no continued training that they have done in this regard; stated that they do not know of any training program that had been available to them regarding child sexual abuse.

This is said to confirm the last hypothesis previously raised, which questioned whether teachers are not prepared to identify, prevent or conduct the process in the face of students who are victims of sexual violence in childhood, since their academic background does not offer knowledge on the subject, and the professionals did not seek knowledge in a continuing education.

It should be emphasized that dealing with child sexual abuse is not an easy task. Because it is a violence that does not always leave visible sequelae, it is very difficult to identify, even for psychology professionals, let us do more for the school team. Therefore, it is necessary that there is information and training of professionals in the school context, so that they can corroborate to combat such a repudiation of crime.

One possibility for these teachers, in addition to seeking more information, would be a conversation wheel in which they discussed child sexual abuse and, with this, each teacher could complement the information that his colleague has on the subject, enriching and strengthening the team to solve the problem in front of their students. For this, a school/educational psychologist could work as a mediator and even as a promoter of these meetings with educators to discuss the theme, assisting with their knowledge about groups and institutions, human development, psychological and social aspects, among other knowledge and techniques derived from psychology for the help and guidance of the school team.

In this respect, it reflects on the role of Psychology in these scenarios. As Cassins et al (2007) explain, the school/educational psychologist can work with the administrative level of the school, supporting the elaboration of the Pedagogical Political Project, the creation of projects together with the entire school team, also making the institutional diagnosis, etc.; can work with the faculty, supporting the definition of educational objectives (methods, contents, and didactic material), in the promotion and/or coordination of professional development activities, being able to make intervention and follow-up for individual and/or group difficulties, guidance, among others; can work with the student body in the preparation, development and monitoring of violence prevention projects, can attend to psychological emergency situations that require immediate intervention for further referral, can act in the coordination and/or participation in meetings to discuss cases of students underexternal professional follow-up, etc.; can also work with the community, giving guidance to parents and family members, offering lectures and clarification activities, participating in activities that help the school to fulfill its social purposes, development of proposals that promote the development of significant social skills, among other actions.

So, it is known that Educational School Psychology (PEE) can greatly assist the school team regarding the prevention, suspicion and identification of child sexual abuse, as well as in many other aspects. However, it is known that in reality few schools can count on the services of such professionals, because they are not a professional provided for, by Brazilian legislation, as fundamental in the school context, which results in little hiring of these professionals in this context. Thus, many schools remain weakened in their actions for the protection of children and adolescents, as well as for corroboration so that these students have their rights guaranteed.

It is important to highlight that this research corroborates what has already been researched by other people, being only a clipping, which says about the interviewees, about the school in which they work and about the Brazilian reality in several places, while many other studies, such as LERNER (2000), which present results similar to that found in this study. Finally, it is worth emphasizing the need to deepen research on the subject, both to corroborate the information of professionals and the general population, as well as to contribute to the establishment of new intervention strategies that strengthen the fight against child sexual abuse.


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[1] Postgraduate in Neuropsychology from the Faculty of Technology, Sciences and Education – FATECE, post-graduated in Organizational and Work Psychology at Herminio Ometto Foundation and graduated in Psychology from the same institution.

[2] Master in Psychology as Science and Profession (PUCCamp), Specialist in Education and Psychopedagogy (PUCCamp), Specialist in Neuropsychology (Albert Einstein Israeli Hospital Institute), Graduated in Psychology (Hermínio Ometto Foundation – FHO)

Submitted: August, 2021.

Approved: September, 2021.

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Natamy de Almeida Gonçalves

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