October 04

Tags

Special, special me.

IMG_3314

Captain Terreblanche from the Mogale City Child Protection Unit (CPU) drops by the Children’s Embassy. Pleasantries are exchanged.

“How was your weekend?”

“Awful. We’ve had seven rapes reported in. It’s high for the time of year”.

In South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females and 38% of males reported being a victim of physical dating violence. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against girls and women. Child sexual abuse affects boys and girls. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/

How can young children be warned and educated of dangers without being alarmed? The CPU has worked with local crèches to introduce a nursery rhyme that encourages self esteem and the right of children to say no. Here are some of the verses:

“My body is my very own
My body is my very own
Mine, mine, mine
I know how to say no, no, no
I know how to say no, no, no
I know how to say no, no, no
Special, special me”

Project Hope has consulted with its healthy young ambassadors for their views on the how all forms of abuse can be eliminated form their community. Their stance is that there should be zero tolerance of abuse, that it is the responsibility for all in the community, including children, to report cases. They have marched through the streets of Munsieville to make this point and reinforce the message with presentations at community meetings on the topic of child and other forms of abuse.

At a poetry festival in Johannesburg (I can safely say it was the best poetry festival I’ve ever attended) the poet pictured, from Pretoria, opened the night with a poem that included the line

“Love is saying ssh, and our little secret”

How can those currently suffering in silence be reached? Project Hope has developed a program where volunteers are trained to be first responders. Their aim is to become known within Munsieville as members of the community that children can turn for confidential support and advice for whatever problems they are facing. The training has been very intensive and professionally delivered by social workers and members of Life Line (an organisation that has a walk in office in the town of Krugersdorp for children and adults in crisis). The role of a first responder is onerous, they must have empathy with their clients, take clear and concise case notes and then act to ensure clients are referred and seen by the best qualified expert. The task is particularly challenging when receiving clients who may have been subjected to abuse. Being the first person to talk to the victim after a traumatic event means that they could later be called to court; it is essential that the first responders can demonstrate that during that first meeting that they did not suggest to the victim what had happened.

Two of the first responders are to be trained further to man an anonymous free call 24 hour phone line so that children in Munsieville are only a phone call away from support in crisis. It’s hoped the number will be 876-876 (Thoughtful Path Munsieville-Thoughtful Path Munsieville). Volunteers and the Project Hope Child Rights hub are working to prepare for the launch date of 2nd November. Not quite sure what the day will entail but I’ve a hunch it will include a tent, a loud hailer and lots of singing.