Click on any of the questions below to reveal the answer
- Q: What is "abuse"?
According to the Children’s Act (38 of 2005) child abuse is any form of deliberate harm or ill treatment that is inflicted on a child. Examples of this include the following:
- Assaulting a child or inflicting any other form of deliberate injury to a child;
- Sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused;
- Bullying by another child;
- A labour practice that exploits a child, or
- Exposing or subjecting a child to behaviour that may harm the child psychologically or emotionally.
- Q: When can a social worker remove a child?
A social worker will only remove a child if it is in the best interest of that child. This is usually when the child is in danger of being hurt, either sexually, physically or emotionally, and the child will be in further danger if he/she remains with his/her family or caregiver. Before removing a child the social worker must investigate the circumstances of the child and be sure that this is true for the child - the child will be encouraged to take part in all decisions that are made about his/her life.
The preservation of family life, with the parent having the primary responsibility to care, protect, guide and ensure the wellbeing of his or her own child, is extremely important.
- Q: What is the procedure to report a suspected case of child abuse?
Any person who suspects that a child is being abused can report their suspicions to their nearest police station, Department of Social Development, or Child Protection Organization. It will be important to have as many details as possible, like the children’s names and addresses, the parent’s details and where/ how to contact them; as well as a description of what has happened, and reasons for your suspicions.
- Q: Do I have to report it to the police if I suspect my child being sexually abused?
- Yes, any person has a moral and social responsibility to report the abuse or ill-treatment of a child. According to the Children’s Act – s 110(2)
- Any person who on reasonable grounds believes that a child is in need of care and protection may report that belief to the provincial department of social development, a designated child protection organisation or a police official.
- (8) The provincial department of social development or designated child protection organisation which has conducted an investigation as contemplated in subsection (5) must report the possible commission of an offence to a police official.
The police will however only open a docket after a recommendation by the social worker or request by the parents/caregiver.
- Q: What will the police do?
If a case of child abuse has been reported to the police, they will open a docket and investigate the allegations. This will mean taking statements from all the important people in the case. If the child has been injured, or sexually abused, they will also make sure that the child undergoes a medical examination.
- Q: Will you remove my child if I report sexual abuse by my daughter's stepfather?
A child will only be removed if he or she is at risk of being harmed, either sexually, physically or emotionally. If the child’s mother is able to ensure the child’s safety, a removal will not be necessary. The Children’s Act also makes provision for the perpetrator to be removed from the home, in order to safeguard the child, so if the stepfather is made to leave, the child can remain in the home.
- Q: What is bullying and how can I help my child?
Bullying is any aggressive behaviour that involves a form of emotional and/or physical abuse and is characterized by the following (The Eyes on Bullying toolkit):
- Deliberate - the aim of the bully is to hurt
- Repeated - same victim is targeted all the time
- Power imbalance- victims are chosen due to vulnerability and are perceived as weak.
You can assist your child by doing the following:
- Encourage children to talk about and report bullying
- Maintain open communication channels with your child’s school/teacher
- Intervene when children are young
- Teach bullying prevention strategies to all children
- Take bullying seriously
- Encourage empathy
- Teach by example
- Help children critically evaluate media violence
- Provide opportunities for children to learn and practice the qualities and skills that can protect them from bullying
- Q: My child is out of control, can you help?
At Uviwe Child and Youth Services, we work with children who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused. If your child is out of control as a result of one of these reasons, we can help by providing counseling for him or her, as well as for the family. We can also help you as the parent to engage in parenting workshops for support, as well as offer life skills groups for your child.
- Q: What should I be teaching my child about sexting?
Most children today are comfortable with documenting their lives online. Posting photos, updating their statuses, sharing rapid-fire texts, and being a click away from their friends are the new normal for our children. The problem with this ‘always connected’ culture creates an environment where children can make impulsive decisions that come back to haunt them. Sexting is one of these decisions.
When people take and send sexually revealing pictures of themselves or send sexually explicit messages via text messages, it’s called sexting. Sexting in itself is worrisome enough, but in a technology world where anything can be copied, sent, posted and seen by huge audiences, there is no such thing as being able to control information. Children, especially teens, think of themselves as invincible, and reason that something like that would never happen to them.
Advice for parents:
- Don’t wait for an incident to happen to your child or your child’s friend before you talk about the consequences of sexting – by then it is too late.
- Remind your kids that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved – and they will lose control over it.
- Ask your child how he/she will feel if their teachers, parents, friends or enemies saw the pictures or texts that they send. If this thought makes them uncomfortable, they should look at what they are sending.
- Talk about the pressures to send revealing photos, or take part in sending sexually explicit text messages. Let them know that you understand how they can be pushed into sending something, but that the social humiliation is far worse.
- Teach your child that they have the responsibility and the power to become part of the solution. If someone sends them a sexual photo or text, they should delete it immediately, and not share it with others.
- They must also be made aware that distributing pornography is illegal.
- Q: At what age must I talk to my child about sex?
There is no correct age for you to start having this conversation with your children. Rather, as a parent, you should be giving them age-appropriate information when they ask questions and/or when the opportunity presents itself. The mistake is to wait until your child is a teenager in the throes of a sexual relationship. By starting early you keep the lines of communication open, and the added advantage of speaking to your pre-teen is at that stage they still believe that their parents know what they are talking about.
It is important for you as the parent to take the initiative when it comes to having these talks. Only you can teach your child about what you believe and value as a family. Schools and life orientation classes can only teach your child about the technicalities of sex. You can teach your child the values and standards that you would like them to have and exhibit. And leaving this important subject to their friends is a recipe for disaster – they will only learn myths and misinformation.
Lastly, ‘the talk’ should not be a once off occurrence, but instead an ongoing process. The facts of life are not just about sex, they are also about growing up and all the things that happen to them emotionally and physically. At different stages in their life they will need different levels of information, for instance, what you explain to a 10 year old about sexually transmitted infections might vary from what you will explain to a 16 year old about to experiment in risky behaviour.
- Q: My ex-husband does not allow me to see my children - can you help?
It is imperative to children’s emotional health to have a good relationship with both of their parents. Since Uviwe Child and Youth Services specialise in dealing with Child Abuse, we will refer you the office of the Family Advocate who specialise in dealing with Care and Contact.
- Q: Why do children kill and rape other children?
These days our children are exposed to so many things via the easy accessibility to different media platforms, like television, video games, internet, movies, social media, etcetera. But sadly, as all this exposure increases, so do family time and parental involvement decrease. This leaves our children alone to cope with the bombardment of sometimes very age-inappropriate information.
Most often when children have been involved in inappropriate sexual play, or violent behaviour towards other children, we have found that they have very little insight into what it is that has actually happened. They also tend to have no real bond with their parents and often their communication with adults is lacking.
Children desperately need to feel connected to their parents and families. They need to have their parents present in their lives, taking an interest in who they are and what they are doing, and they especially need to be able to speak to their parents about issues affecting them. Children need strong role models, adults that they can look up to, who teach by modeling the desired behaviour, and not just by instructing their children.
Parents also have a responsibility to know where their children are, who they are mixing with and what they are doing, and to teach their children right from wrong. Parents should also monitor what their children are being exposed to, through television, the internet and social media, and in films and books – age restrictions are there for a reason.
When children are left to their own devices without the appropriate guidance and communication from their parents or caregivers, it becomes easy to lose their way.
- Q: How do I become a foster parent/adoptive parent?
If you would like to become a foster parent to any child, we will refer you to the Department of Social Development, since we only deal with foster care placements of children who were victims of abuse. Should you indicate that you would be interested in being a Temporary Safe Care parent, you would be required to complete an application form, be subjected to a screening process and then be appropriately trained.
- Q: What do I do if I want to adopt a baby?
Uviwe Child and Youth Services does not offer an adoption service. We will therefore refer you to a relevant organisation or individual dealing with adoptions.
- Q: What is ECD?
ECD stands for Early Childhood Development pertaining to children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. An ECD Centre is an Early Childhood Development Centre where children receive a range of services to ensure that they are physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially ready to enter grade R. Services include nutrition as well as educational and social stimulation.
- Q: How can I enroll my child at an ECD Centre?
You can visit the centre of your choice and obtain an application form. The completed form, together with the relevant documentation should be handed in at the specific centre. Children can be enrolled as from October each year. At Uviwe Child and Youth Services we currently have 3 centres in Shauderville, 3 centres in Gelvandale and 1 centre in Lakeside.
- Q: What do you teach children at an ECD Centre?
Our programme at the ECD Centre is in accordance with the specifications and requirements of the Departement of Education as well as the Children’s Act. Our programme focus on the development of both gross and fine motor skills and includes numeracy and literacy.
- Q: I was raped as a child - can you help me?
Yes, Uviwe Child and Youth Services also render services to “adult survivors” – victims of childhood abuse.
- Q: We have children at our school involved in sexually inappropriate behaviour – can you help?
Yes, we will be able to assist in different ways.
1) We will be able to do awareness talks about abuse at your school, addressing the issue of sexually inappropriate behaviour and
2) We will be able to render services to both children involved in the inappropriate behaviour, assessing the behaviour and then deciding on a relevant treatment plan.
- Q: Am I allowed to physically punish my child? If not, what is appropriate discipline?
Physical/corporal punishment can be described as ‘any physical action that hurts a child in the name of discipline”. This could mean:
- hitting, slapping, pinching, pushing, shaking, kicking, pulling their hair/ears or throwing a child with something or into something (wall/window/objects)
- depriving the child of food or rest or movement
- forcing chilies, washing-up liquid or other irritating substances in a child’s mouth or anywhere on his/her body
- forcing them to sit or stand for any length of time, and/or
- burning or scarring the child in any manner
Discipline is often understood to mean “punishment” of children who “misbehave”. It should however be understood as raising children to be responsible, caring and self-disciplined adults. It is about initiating children into society and helping them to understand and want to follow the values we cherish.
Examples of appropriate discipline include:
- Time – out (a minute per the age of the child)
- Taking away privileges
- Give Praise
- Lead by example
- Be realistic
- Restorative Justice
- Do not threaten or shout at children
- Use “good” words to describe children
- Be respectful
- Negotiate a compromise
- Use guidance and counseling methods
- Children learn by doing
- Q: What is a 'Child'?
A child is a person under the age of 18 years according to the Children’s Act 38/2005. "Youth" includes young person's up to the age of 25 years.
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