Safeline Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Centre held its sixth annual commemoration of Child Protection week at Christ the Mediator church in Portland, on Thursday May 31.
“This day was to acknowledge children who have been taken away from us,” said Safeline director Rochelle Philander.
“We need to start speaking out because children are being taken away due to crime in our community. Seventy percent of our cases that we deal with are because of incest – fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, abusing children.”
Christ the Mediator’s Reverend, Dean Appels, added: “Many of our children are left unattended. This is the time when children need us most. We need to teach them what to do in these situations as many of them do not know what to do when they’re alone.”
To this, Ms Philander responded: “Those are the children Safeline wants to reach out to – especially now that mid-year holidays are approaching.”
Three social workers at Safeline are assigned to handle cases relating to 40 children, the youngest of whom is four years old.
Safeline started in 2005 and were based at Tafelsig High School before moving to Glider Street in Beacon Valley.
They receive information about children experiencing abuse, from South African Police Services (SAPS), hospitals, schools, family, SAPS’ Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit, and religious institutions, and also deal with walk-ins.
They handle cases relating to children aged two to 18 years old who have access to their therapeutic programmes.
“There are programmes for children dealing with anger, abuse and sexual behaviour.
“A child may start abusing another child, if this is what they’re exposed to every day,” said Ms Philander.
Safeline also visits schools to teach children about peer pressure and identifying abuse, and address grade 4 to 7 pupils about risky behaviour, personal boundaries, respect for one another, making choices and having healthy relationships.
“In order for us to support parents and guardians of the children that we work with, we have a support group,” said Ms Philander.
Safeline also trains teachers to identify abuse and educates parents and guardians how to deal with the aftermath of abuse.
Safeline currently has 100 volunteers who are equipped to carry out the mission of the organisation. You can contact Safeline on their toll free number, 08000 35553, their website www.safeline.org.za or visit their offices at 32 Glider Street, Beacon Valley.