Increase in child abuse during pandemic

The little children from Mizpah Educare in Beacon Valley at the child protection week service with Safeline.

There was an increase in the abuse of children in their homes during the pandemic.

This was highlighted by Rochelle Philander, director of Safeline child abuse treatment and prevention centre at a Child Protection Week event last week, and confirmed by SAPS.

With Child Protection Week being marked from June 1 to June 7, the organisation held its eighth annual Child Protection Week service at the Pentecostal Protestant Church in Beacon Valley on Thursday June 3.

Ms Philander added that children as young as eight years old were sexually abusing their younger family members.

“We know that Covid-19 has taken many lives but this is horrific. One cannot blame Covid-19 as various forms of abuse have always been an issue,” said Ms Philander who urged family members to come forward with information.

“Family members do not speak out especially when they are financially dependent on the perpetrator. It is worse now, (with) overcrowded homes, the situation has been exacerbated,” she said.

She encouraged parents to take their children to Safeline as they were more likely to testify if they received the proper counselling.

Captain Ian Williams, spokesperson for Mitchell’s Plain SAPS confirmed that there had been an increase in cases of child sexual abuse since March last year, when lockdown started.

And, he said: “We can confirm that a small percentage of cases does involve young children as perpetrators.”

From left are walking bus member, Tina Macdonald, sub-council 12 chairman Solomon Philander, social worker supervisor for Safeline, Edlyne Van Willingh, and community worker, Carol Mentor lighting candlelighting ceremony for those affected by child abuse.

“Our community is in chaos at the moment. With child sexual abuse, over 300 children have been counselled through Safeline. We are standing with our children during this week especially, we are here to support them,” said Ms Philander.

Pastor Albert Tromp, from the Pentecostal Protestant Church said: “Jou kind is my kind. Ons moet na ons kinders kyk. Moet nie kinders seer maak nie. Daar is n spesiale plek vir kinders in God se hart,” he said.

Sub-council 12 chairperson Solomon Philander said often the perpetrators of child abuse were known to the victims and he highlighted that there were many services available in Mitchell’s Plain to help victims of abuse and to protect children.

One of them, he said, was the walking bus initiative which ensured the safety of children walking to or from school.

“We thank them for their hard work,” said Mr Philander, referring to the volunteers.

“We must come together. Let’s keep the services accountable for service rendered and make sure our children get the help they need,” he said.

“Thank you to all the NGOs who are helping to make this community a better place,” said Mr Philander.

From left are diretor of Safeline, Rochelle Philander, little Alexia Swartz, teacher at Mizpah Educare, Jacinth Powan and social work supervisor for Safeline, Edlyne Van Willingh, lighting a candle for those affected by child abuse.
Little Justin Lewack from Mizpah Educare lightin a candle.
Walking bus member lighting a candle, Bettie Whitebooi.

Teacher at Mizpah Educare in Beacon Valley, Kaylee Roberts, said children should be supported and loved.

Director of Safeline, Rochelle Philander at the green ribbon ceremony where prayers were hung up on the gates of the church.
Deacon, Jason Driver, at the church he serves at Pentecostal Protestant Church hanging a prayer at the green ribbon ceremony.
Sybil Rudolph, a church member, at the green ribbon ceremony.
Waking bus member Priscilla Japtha, at the green ribbon ceremony.

Safeline has branches, in Delft, Grassy Park head office, Athlone, and Beacon Valley, Mitchell’s Plain. Safeline allows walk-ins at their office in 32 Glider Street, Beacon Valley, Mitchell’s Plain or call 08000 35553 for more information.