Workshop tackles child protection

Prudence Ntshangase, Kyle Luke Cupido and founder Mymoena Scholtz, of Where Rainbows Meet, in Vrygrond.

One in every three children has experienced some form of sexual abuse at some point in their lives, according to the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

This means that a total of
784 967 young people in South Africa have been victims of sexual abuse by the age of 17.

The shocking statistics were revealed at a workshop on responses to child protection in the Western Cape, called by Lavender Hill organisation Philisa Abafazi Bethu with support of the GHJRU, and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, at Rooikrans Hall in Grassy Park, on Friday October 27.

The meeting focused on the evidence-based research of sexual abuse of adolescents.

A dialogue session was held where the community could share their experiences of child protection on the Cape Flats.

There was also the official launch of the Rene Roman Search and Rescue (RRSR) group, an initiative to act swiftly when children go missing.

In the dialogue session, the community raised the issue of the lack of social workers.

Mymoena Scholtz, of Where Rainbows Meet, in Vrygrond, who empowers women, spoke to Southern Mail during the
break and said there is not
enough support for vulnerable children.

“Although there are a few good social workers, we still have a hard time getting hold of one. There are many incidents where we find abandoned children who are abused by family members. One example is of a young girl who has foetal alcohol syndrome.

“We met her when she was six years old. Her mother is an alcoholic and we wanted social welfare to intervene. There has been no intervention and the girl is already 14 years old.

“She is still with her mother and we would like this child to be taken out of that environment and put her in foster care.”

At the workshop, two women from Delft and Mitchell’s Plain said they were foster mothers and they did not get sufficient support from the social workers.

One foster mother said she has a child who has a learning dis-
ability but the social worker did not tell her about the child’s condition.

She said if she had known this she would have made extra effort to see that the child got better attention.

While there were a few other women at the meeting who said they were not happy with social workers, Moriedah Dien, of Dews of Quietness, which helps vulnerable women and children, said the focus should be on the biological mother. “I take my hat off for the foster mothers, but the first person to abandon her child, is the mother.”

She said if the biological mother is not educated then she will abandon her first child and “maybe another baby as well. So, pull the reins tight on the child’s mother first.”

The workshop also focused on solutions in cases of missing children.

The Rene Roman Search and Rescue (RRSR) group was launched in memory of Rene-Tracey Roman who went missing on Friday March 10 after going to the shop down the road from her Montague Village home.

Her body was found in a wendy house at the back of a neighbour’s house on March 21 (“Hearts bleed for Rene”, Southern Mail, March 29).

Andrew Plaatjies was arrested and his next appearance, according to Lucinda Evans of Philisa Abafazi Bethu, will be at the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town, on Friday November 3.

After speaking to Rene-Tracey’s mother Chrissandre Jacobs, Ms Evans took the initiative to create a forum of community members who would assist in finding missing children.

“We are formally launching this group and we gave each member a jacket with Rene Roman Search and Rescue printed on it.”

She said 30 members received their jackets and their emergency First Aid certificates.

“We now have six emergency safety parents in our team. We are also doing child safety awareness at tuck shops which sells cigarettes to young children.”

The Village Heights informal settlement parents have joined the group.