Learners speak of abuse

2019-05-30 06:00
Children’s drawings adorn the walls of ACJ Primary School during the launch of Child Protection Week on Tuesday 28 May.PHOTOS: MZWANELE MKALIPI

Children’s drawings adorn the walls of ACJ Primary School during the launch of Child Protection Week on Tuesday 28 May.PHOTOS: MZWANELE MKALIPI

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Sixty-three learners from ACJ Primary School have admitted to being abused by family members at home.

This was revealed during the launch of Child Protection Week at the school on Tuesday 28 May, laying bare an endemic social problem.

In a study conducted at ACJ Primary, learners, all of them girls from Grade 4 to 7, spoke of abuse they suffered at their homes, one child saying a hot iron had been used on her.

The abuse ranged from physical, emotional to sexual abuse.

Stakeholders in the two-hour long session, purposefully held at the school, called on parents to open up to their children more, and establish a good, trusting relationship with them.

This would enable parents to report any abuse their children have faced, be it with relatives or anyone close to them.

“The words you say to your children stick with them forever,” said Qondisa Bongela of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). “So always be mindful of what you say and not say to your children as they grow up.

She said of the 63 learners canvassed 15 were not believed at their homes and 35 were sexually abused.

“These kinds of abuse take place at their homes, and children need protection more than anything,” Bongela said. “Today we are launching Child Protection Month, and we aware of what children are going through.”

Patricia Thakholi of Patch Helderberg Child Abuse Centre emphasised the importance of parents listening to their children.

“These kind of abuses are real,” she said. “The small talk you have with your child can reveal a lot, so don’t take it for granted.

“Please have a relationship with your children. Be attentive. As parents we have a responsibility to love our children, and if we fail them they will suffer for the rest of their lives.”

Sergeant Mthokozisi Gama of Lwandle police station urged parents to report such abuses to their children and not keep quite.

He said: “As police we support Child Protection Week under the theme ‘Moving South Africa Forward’. Please create a platform where you’re able to share with your child.”

Gama said there are structures in the communities such as Sanco, street committees that can be used to pass on any information that needs to be looked into.

Parents were also afforded an opportunity to ask questions to the different stakeholders who attended the event.

Thobeka Pahlana of the WCED spoke of learning barriers engendered by not having someone believing in one, and urged parents to encourage their children to dream, especially about their future.

“Many children are born with disability challenges, but we no longer have to hide them,” she pointed out. “There are schools where children with learning difficulties can go.”

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