The launch of Child Protection and Youth Month at Metro South EducationDistrict.
The sad reality is that our children are extremely vulnerable and they are subjected to all forms of abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. We were reminded that our children are entrusted to us; that it is our legal and moral responsibility to protect our children against all forms of abuse.
|Glen van Harte delivering his keynote address.
Our district director, Glen van Harte, said, "We need to recommit and reenergize ourselves to look after our children. We have to watch our language. Language has the ability to leave scars that are often far more damaging than physical scars. We have to mediate the language we use with one another and with children. We need to be mindful of the relationships we have with one another and with our teachers. It is also important to look after ourselves so that we can look after our children."
|Lucinda Pelston (left) and Rachel, the Programme Director
Here is a summary of Lucinda's presentation:
You need to know the Children's Act 38 of 2005 and the Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007.
District officials, School Management, their staff and anybody working at the schools, need to know the Children's Act 38 of 2005 and the Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007. These Acts guide us on the protection of children.
The two laws, the Children's Act 38 of 2005, Section 110 and the Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007, Section 54, anchor the reporting of children who are abused, neglected or in need of care and protection.
- Children's Act 38 of 2005 (110) describes who must report the abuse. The list includes all staff at school, including volunteer workers.
- The Sexual Offences Act 32 of 2007 (54) states that if you have reasonable belief or suspicion that children are sexually abused, you must report it. You cannot be held liable if you report alleged abuse if you report in good faith.
The Abuse No More Protocol of the WCED
The WCED has developed The Abuse No More Protocol to help schools and learners of the WCED to deal with the problem of child abuse. The Abuse No More Protocol contains reporting procedures and the responsibilities of the school principal to implement and manage this protocol at his (her) school.
Corporal Punishment is unconstitutional and illegal
According to reports from learners, parents, teachers and other sources, corporal punishment is still being practised at schools. Most schools know that Section 10 of the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 states that it is a criminal offense to administer corporal punishment.
The challenge is that people often don't know that corporal punishment includes a range of acts.
The WCED subscribes to the following definition of corporal punishment:
"Any deliberate act against a child that inflicts pain or physical discomfort to punish or contain him or her. This includes but is not limited to, spanking, slapping, pinching, paddling, or hitting a child with a hand or with an object, denying or restricting a child's use of the toilet, denying meals, drink, heat or shelter, pushing or pulling a child with force, and forcing a child to do exercise." (see www.childadvocate.com)
The WCED circular on corporal punishment is WCED Circular 95 of 2002. There is no expiry date!
The role of the School Governing Body with regard to appointment of educators and the code of conduct for learners.
Educators who have been found guilty in a court of law, or who have been dismissed by the WCED, may not be appointed at WCED schools. SGBs therefore have to be aware of this provision when they appoint teachers in SGB posts. SGBs should check with the WCED and the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to ensure that child offenders are not appointed at their schools.
|Snapshot of the audience at the Child Protection and Youth Month Campaign
- The Code of Conduct for learners at schools can be in conflict with legislation on Child Protection. School principals and their SGBs should revisit their Codes of Conduct and make the necessary changes to be compliant.
Challenges for Schools in this rights-based culture
- Schools struggle to enforce discipline in this rights-based culture and where children's rights are given priority in our country. Schools need sustained support to develop a restorative disciplinary framework that will help them manage the discipline at their schools.
- It has become more critical for schools to build strong partnerships with their parents, the community and organizations that can help them transform their schools into disciplined, high learning spaces. Schools cannot do it on their own anymore.
If you want Lucinda and her social worker team to visit your school and run a similar talk, do contact our district office.
Thanks to the Social Work team for a brilliant, informative session. I left there refreshed and more knowledgeable about the scope of corporal punishment and the specific laws that compel us to report child abuse.
I would love to hear your views? Was this blog post helpful?