House of Horrors – what would you have done?

By admin
28 May 2014

The country looks on in horror as details are unveiled of how a man allegedly held his wife and five children captive and brutally assaulted them for years in the so-called House of Horrors in Springs. But what would you do if this was your neighbour? We give you some advice on how to act safely.

The country looks on in horror as details are unveiled of how a man allegedly held his wife and five children captive and brutally assaulted them for years in the so-called House of Horrors in Springs.

It’s difficult not to compare the case to that of infamous Austrian Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter and their children captive in his home until the shocking details of their ordeal came to light in 2008.

According to reports, the Gauteng man kept his wife and five children between the ages of two and 16 captive for years. He reportedly tortured and assaulted them. Read the whole story here. Neighbours say they never knew there were children living in the house.

But what would you do if you suspected this was your neighbour? Lynne Cawood, director of Childline Gauteng, says the organisation is on standby to deal with all child-related problems, and counsellors are trained to facilitate child-protection services from Child Welfare, SAPS and the department of social development. “It takes a village to raise a child and it is critical that everyone has an awareness of vulnerable children in their community,” says Cawood. She gives advice on what to do if you suspect a child in your community is being abused.

  • The concept of good neighbourliness is important. Assist where possible but if you believe a crime is being committed, report it to the SAPS.
  • Don’t investigate a crime on your own, especially if your safety may be compromised. Use the police number 0860-10111 or call Childline on 08000-55555. You can also SMS an anonymous tip to 32211 (Crimeline).
  • Remember in terms of the Children’s Act, everyone is responsible for reporting cases of child abuse. Besides the numbers above, you can also contact child welfare, the department of social development in your province or the local police who can refer you to the Child Protection Unit.

Typical signs of sexual abuse in children

If a child in your care is displaying these signs, it might be a good idea to act:

  • Knowledge of sexual matters that are inappropriate for their age.
  • Sexualised or seductive behaviour including compulsive masturbation and sexualised interaction with younger children.
  • Dressing in several layers of clothes.
  • Absence from school without explanation or with unusual explanations.
  • Loss of or increase in appetite.
  • Urine infections or itching in the genital area.
  • Suicidal or self-destructive behaviour including self-mutilation.
  • Change in mood including irritability, depression or unusual anger.
  • Poor concentration which results in lowered scholastic performance.
  • Skipping class.
  • Isolation.
  • Regressed or babyish behaviour.
  • Bedwetting or soiling themselves.
  • Aggression.
  • Sleeping problems including nightmares.
  • Psychosomatic complaints.

-Dalena Theron

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