Cornflower Primary School is standing up against woman and child abuse – and they did so in public last week when teachers and pupils formed a human chain along AZ Berman Drive. They wore orange T-shirts to honour the lives of those who had died at the hands of their abusers, and to show their solidarity with survivors.
Their show of support on Thursday November 25 coincided with the start of the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign which is commemorated annually from November 25 until December 10.
Child abuse, deliberate neglect and sexual offences against children are examples of the kinds of abuse that take place in communities and educational institutions throughout South Africa.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has therefore developed the Abuse No More protocol to help pupils, institutions, and employees of the WCED to deal with the problem efficiently and effectively.
Schools were tasked with identifying a day during 16 Days of Activism to stand up against gender-based violence.
Head of department (HOD) and co-ordinator for promoting health at the school, Heather Malgas, said the community faced a lot of violence and their pupils suffered because of it as well as the abuse some of them experience. “We do all we can to help our pupils to be mindful of gender-based violence and to identify it,” she said.
Yolinda Langeveldt, also a head of department, said they would continue to create awareness among their pupils. “One can see when a child has been abused,” she said.
“I’ve experienced a child who was in an altercation with another child. We got involved and spoke to the parents. We asked those parents to be conscious of how they are raising their children as the home environment plays a big part in their development at school or anywhere they may find themselves,” Ms Langeveldt added.
Cornflower Primary’s deputy principal, Charmaine van der Westhuizen, said they had mobilised their staff to support the 16 Days of Activism campaign as their school was against gender-based violence.
“It is very easy to identify a child who has been abused in their home. We can see it academically too. It is heartbreaking seeing our children so withdrawn at school,” she said.
Ms Malgas said this could even be seen in teachers and family members as well.