Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Child Abuse is starting to be national crisis

A very disturbing trend that has been coming out of the project case studies, and just random stories that have been told by field staff, is the level of abuse in South Africa.

The Eastern Cape in particular.

Every district, every school, every staff member seems to have a story. All on horrific levels. None properly resolved, but smoothed over.

Alcohol and poverty underpin many. But so? What does the kid who has been abandoned, burnt, sexually molested, gang raped, (or been the gang raper at age 10?), prevented in every way from leaving the house to get to school, emotionally & mentally broken down care for the “social causes” that politicians & researchers might harp on about.

It is not their problem, the abuse is not their fault, and those of us with the resources and know-how and power should be doing all we can to keep them safe from these cases.

But are we?

While we are all addressing the services to help those kids that have been abused:
– Are the cop stations and clinics friendly enough to abuse victims;
– What laws are in place to charge the abuser;
– Did the cops respond, arrest, keep imprisoned, bring to justice, see jailed and kept jailed for the full sentence the abusers;
– Are social workers responding and following up and are they managing to get results;
– Are the children being counselled, medically cared for, protected from the consequences of speaking up;
– Are the homes where abuse cases have been reported being visited & the situation being discussed, addressed, explained what is wrong & the alternatives and the consequences;
– Are children being removed to safe places or is the environment where they are being kept being made safe and trusting for them;
– Are we encouraging them directly and indirectly to speak up about their abuse?

But are we doing anything to PREVENT abuse?

Why is it so insanely rife?

Is it not at national crisis level?

Because the statistics are very worrying and the stories very disturbing. And even, as any humanitarian worker who focuses on SA’s kids loves to mantra:
“One child abused, is one too many”.

It has just been in the last week, with the amount of stories I heard, that the realisation started to sink in that our country has a serious problem with abuse. It is not isolated few incidents that can be rationalised away.

And are we nationally doing anything to PREVENT it, not just to care for its results?


Anonymous said...

absolutely horrifying. Did this always happen, and we're just getting better at pointing out the signs or is it getting worse? I feel sick at the thought of how children are treated.

Champagne Heathen said...

Always a good point!

There is a chance some cases, like gang rape or rape of young boys, always did happen, but then communities accepted it as part of growing up. And now the greater SA community refuses to accept it, especially as we have started to realise the long term consequences.