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One of Nelson Mandela’s most pertinent quotes was: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.”
“This year’s Child Protection Week was supported by many events throughout the country, the main theme of the events was to highlight the sexual abuse of children in our communities.” says Lt. Sindi Nkosi. Our officers spent a week visiting community centres, local parks, schools and shopping malls distributing leaflets to highlight the need to protect children of all ages from sexual abuse. Children were given boxes with snacks, crayons and colouring in activities that highlighted messages about abuse and provided the 24-hour hotline number for reporting any such incidents – 0800 RESCU (73728).
The strong theme was ‘protecting me, protecting you’ – a theme that was shared by The Salvation Army teams and our partners the Teddy Bear Clinic and the South African Police Services. At a service at The Salvation Army’s headquarters in Braamfontein, Sergeant Lucky Mabizela of the SAPS FCS (Family Care Services) unit emphasised the importance of awareness campaigns about child sexual abuse. He explained it could take up to three years to finalise a case against a sexual abuser. This is because children are so traumatised by the abuse that they require extensive therapy, before they are able to testify in a court without suffering from secondary trauma. Sadly, there is also often insufficient evidence to secure a conviction in court.
When a child reports sexual abuse by someone in the family or who is close to the family, the immediate priority is to remove the child from that situation. He added that the SAPS rely on organisations like The Salvation Army to assist them in placing children in safe care.