Childline tackles issues

2018-05-23 06:02
Community members are urged to use Childline services. Photo: Boipelo Mere

Community members are urged to use Childline services. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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It seemed like Phillip Rickets (57) did not understand what the volunteer was explaining to him with regards to child abuse and Childline.

This was on Thursday (17/05), when Childline Northern Cape celebrated Childline Day in a Walk and Talk Campaign in the area of Galeshewe Circle.

It later became evident that indeed Rickets had understood exactly what was being communicated to him, it was only that he was not interested.

“I know them; then they have the nerve to come to me and preach about child neglect and child abuse after creating a rift between me and my neighbour,” said Rickets.

He expressed how exhausted he was after intervening in a child abuse matter involving his neighbour. According to him, the mother leaves her four-year-old daughter locked up inside the house when she goes on a drinking spree. This, he said, happened mostly on weekends of child grant payments.

“I am the monster now, after I reported her to the police, who referred the matter to the social workers, as it was my request. I only had the child’s best interest at heart.

“They ended up protecting the negligent mother, instead of the child.”

He said his identity had been revealed, leading to him attending hearings, with the mother later bad­mouthing him for trying to destroy her life.

Rickets felt his intervention was not worth the effort, as the law had taken the mother’s side, resulting in a repetition of her negligence. He had, however, not given up and had requested his wife to intervene.

Rickets was not the only person who identified shortcomings in the measures put in place for the protection of children from abuse. Ntombikayise Nteta raised her concern about the 24-hour waiting period before a child could be reported as missing.

“(Waiting) 24 hours is too long; they waste precious time while the child could have been tracked down, without resulting in tragedy,” said Nteta.

These were just some of the points that members of the community needed clarity on when engaging with the volunteers in the streets of Galeshewe.

Innocentia Mosemeng, director of Childline Northern Cape, said it was unfortunate that members of the community could report the case of a missing child to the police only after 24 hours, but confirmed that it was national policy they could do nothing about.

“But with us, a case does not have to be reported after 24 hours, as we act immediately and handle our tip-offs anonymously (they also don’t have to reveal their identity),” said Mosemeng.

“We deal with children’s cases with the highest priority, as we have our own internal social worker and crisis line supervisor, who immediately do an internal assessment and involve the police when a case is reported.”

As far as cases of child negligence were concerned, she revealed that they could remove a child from a hostile environment and find temporary placement until the case was handed over to Social Development.

“I can understand the concerns of some members of the community, of not wanting to be involved in child neglect or child abuse problems. But we are here to make a difference in protecting children.”

The community is encouraged to call Childline on 08000-55-555 at any time.

Mosemeng said they would run continuous programmes at schools, churches and in communities. They also invite others to utilise their services.

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