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|Johannesburg, Sunday 29 May 2022|
|For immediate release As South Africa’s annual Child Protection Week kicks off today (Sunday 29 May), The Salvation Army has a full line-up of events planned around the country to raise awareness of the sexual abuse of the youngest members of our society.|
Teams of Salvation Army officers will spend the week from Sunday 29 May to Saturday 5 June visiting community centres, schools and shopping malls to highlight the need to protect children of all ages from sexual abuse. Salvation Army members will also undertake marches during the week in their distinctive uniforms accompanied by the sounds of their iconic brass bands to bring attention to this scourge.
Activities will involve handing out pamphlets and green ribbons, engaging members of the public in discussion, hosting talks and presenting dramas. Children will be given boxes with snacks, crayons and colouring in activities that highlight messages about abuse and provide the 24-hour hotline number for reporting abuse of 08000 RESCU (73728).
The Salvation Army teams will be active in eight of South Africa’s provinces, ensuring that their message of “protecting me, protecting you” is widely shared.
The week is being undertaken with several partners, including the Teddy Bear Clinic and the South African Police Service.
Speaking at a service at The Salvation Army’s headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Thursday this week to mark the week, Sergeant Lucky Mabizela of the SAPS’ FCS unit, noted that awareness campaigns about child sexual abuse were needed every hour of every day of the year.
He noted that it can 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 case without suffering from secondary trauma. There is also often insufficient evidence to secure a conviction in court.
Sergeant Mabizela decried the still prevalent, but wrong, belief that a person who is HIV positive can be cured by sexual intercourse with a child. He added that some traditional leaders are still spreading this false belief.
Should a child report sexual abuse by someone living in the family or who is close to the family, the immediate priority is to remove the child from that situation, he said. He added that the SAPS relies on organisations such as The Salvation Army to assist it in placing children in safe care.
Details of activities in specific provinces are available from The Salvation Army’s PR Secretary, Captain Velani Buthelezi, on email@example.com or on 082-994-4351.