HUMAN Rights Month is upon us and Fever reporter Samkelisiwe Gumede spoke to the staff at the Amanzimtoti Child and Family Welfare Society (ACFWS) to find out how they commemorate the day and precautions one can take to protect a child from abuse.
The manager at the ACFWS, Poovandri Naidoo, made an appeal: “It’s not only your child, it’s the community’s child also, and it is up to us as adults to ensure that our children are protected because children are minors and helpless in certain circumstances. We not only have a legal responsibilities but a moral responsibility to report abuse because when do we say we should have done something, when the child is dead?”
SG: What are the signs or symptoms of child abuse and neglect?
PN: There are different types of child abuse and each comes with its own signs and symptoms. With physical abuse, there will be physical evidence on the child, like scarring, bodily harm marks. With sexual abuse, the child may give you subtle messages, actions or have changes in behaviour that indicate they were sexually abused. With emotional abuse, the child will show traumatic reactions like swearing, scolding and humiliation. With abandonment, the child will show signs of chronic depression, decreased self-esteem and obsessive thinking. With neglect, this will show physically in a child as he or she will show signs of malnutrition, begging or even stealing food, frequent lateness or absence from school and poor hygiene. With exploitation, the child will have sexually transmitted diseases, bruises on the body and be exhausted.
SG: At what age can a child legally be left at home alone?
PN: The South African Children’s Act 38 of 2005 does not specify exactly what age a child can be left alone at home. A child is considered a child until the age of 18 years old.
SG: How do I report child abuse or neglect?
PN: People can come straight to Child Welfare or go to a clinic. If it is after hours when the Welfare office is closed, one can go to the SAPS or the Thuthuzela Care Centre at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, but there is always the ChildLine South Africa toll-free number at 08 000 55 555.
SG: What is considered child abuse and neglect? How does the State define child abuse and neglect?
PN: According to the Department of Social Development’s SA Child Protection Surveillance Study Training Manual, child abuse and neglect include all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect and exploitation that result in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity.
SG: Can I make an anonymous report of abuse?
PN: Yes, one can but we need their names for record purposes but all names are kept confidential.
Child abuse knows no age, no race, no gender and no economic social standing.
For more information on the ACFWS visit them at
1 Lewis Dr, Amanzimtoti, or call 031 903 5171.
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