09/05/2017 05:59 SAST | Updated 09/05/2017 10:02 SAST

Alleged Sex Abuse At Parktown Boys: Why Guys May Find It Especially Hard To Seek Help

One expert thinks schools are brushing the issue under the carpet.

One of the most damaging myths is that boys and men can't fall victim to sexual abuse, according to Reese Mann of the South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse.

He was speaking to Huffpost SA on Monday, following allegations of sexual abuse at Parktown Boys High School in Joburg. The Sunday Times reported that more than 20 pupils have accused a now former staff member at the school of sexual assault. A school representative has told the media that the 22-year-old was caught on surveillance cameras, fondling a pupil's private parts.

Mann says although this is terrible, it is not surprising. A victim of sexual assault himself, who also went to an all boys' school, Mann believes schools have long been sweeping the issue of sexual abuse under the carpet. He says unless this changes, the problem will persist, with possible adverse effects later in life, as he has witnessed in other male survivors.

According to a child sexual abuse study conducted at the University of Cape Town's Psychology department: "Adults who report experiences of child sexual abuse report significantly elevated rates of psychopathology, including depression, self-destructive behaviour, substance abuse, anxiety and sexual risk-taking."

Durban-based clinical psychologist and criminologist, Siphokazi Qotyana, says parents must constantly be on the look-out for immediate behavioural changes associated with sexual abuse. They could be a result of post-traumatic stress induced by the abuse and they reveal themselves in, for example, sudden and constant nightmares, substance abuse, defiance or severe withdrawal.

Qotyana recommends that parents report this to the relevant authorities immediately and seek immediate counselling.

Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, who visited the school on Monday, expressed his deep disappointment with this incident, saying the matter should have been handled differently. Department spokesperson Oupa Bodibe told Huffpost SA that the case is now in the courts and that processes must be respected.

The suspect is out on bail and expected in court this week.