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National Child Protection Week this year is commemorated from 28 May to 4 June 2024. This article is published as part of a content sharing partnership between Kerkbode and Badisa. Photo: Supplied

Badisa | Child Protection Week: Do’s and Don’ts on reporting child abuse


Child Protection Week aims to create awareness of children’s rights with the intent to stop the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation of children says Renee Pretorius, Social Services Manager at *Badisa. National Child Protection Week this year is commemorated from 28 May to 4 June 2024. 

In this article, she shares advice and guidance on how to respond effectively when you believe a child’s safety is at risk.

Signs of possible child abuse

The Children’s Act (38/2005) describes child abuse as “any form of harm or ill-treatment deliberately inflicted on a child” and includes emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. 

Pretorius explains more: “Emotional abuse in children can manifest in a lack of confidence, self-esteem, and difficulty controlling emotions. Physical abuse can be hard to identify, but unexplained injuries and fear of parents may be warning signs. Indicators for sexual abuse include withdrawn behaviour, substance abuse, and referring to sexual themes during playtime. Parents should be concerned if their child suddenly doesn’t want to participate in physical activities they usually enjoy.”

She shares some helpful information to guide you through what to do when you suspect that a child is being abused:

1 Get professional help

A first step would be to find a registered child protection organisation in the area where the child resides (for example Badisa if you are in the Western, Northern or Eastern Cape). 

Contact them to find a designated social worker assigned with risk assessments who will provide guidance to report the matter in the best possible way. It will be helpful if you can provide details such as dates and specific observations of incidents that you observed as the designated social worker may require you to submit a sworn affidavit.

2 Report incidents of child abuse

These helplines are available in case of emergency and after hours: 

  • Childline (116)
  • Department of Social Development (Toll free 08 00428 428)
  • Domestic Violence Helpline (0800 150 150)
  • SAPS Emergency Services (10111)

3 Avoid further harm 

Approaching the situation without the proper skills and knowledge may cause further harm or the child to later recant any disclosures. Once you have reported the suspected abuse, leave the matter in the hands of the designated child protection organisation. Provide the child with emotional support and where possible, safety.

4 Be a safe space 

Bear in mind that the family is experiencing trauma, so providing a safe and accepting emotional space for them to talk about their feelings is one of the most valuable things you can do. 

Reporting Child Abuse: Summary of do’s and don’ts

Here is a quick reminder of some do’s and don’ts when you suspect a child is being abused or when reporting a case.

Do:

  • Ensure the child’s safety (if at all possible) until the authorities speak to the child
  • Get all the child’s identifying information such as name, surname, age, parents’ names, physical address, contact numbers, schools the child currently attends or the last school the child attended
  • Be specific in what you observed i.e. physical and emotional signs
  • Provide dates and incidents in as much detail as possible

Don’t:

  • Question the child
  • Confront the alleged perpetrator
  • Remove the child from their parents care
  • Offer advice to any of the parties during or after the matter was reported

 

*Badisa is a registered NPO which provides social services and residential care to the most vulnerable people in the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape. Visit their website at www.badisa.org to find out more.


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