With National Child Protection Week being celebrated in South Africa from 30 May to 6 June 2021, there is an even greater focus on collaborating to protect children in a Covid-19 world.
According to a report and article by UNICEF South Africa, children are facing an increased risk of abuse and violence due to the impact of Covid-19, and local nonprofit organisations are picking up the same unfortunate trend.
In 2017, the Drakenstein Child Protection Steering Group was established with seven nonprofit organisations, aiming to promote quality support services for children through collaboration and capacity building.
Since then this dedicated child protection group has grown to include more than 20 nonprofit organisations, working together with multiple other child protection stakeholders in the Cape Winelands. They host regular meetings, child-focused workshops, campaigns, interventions and events where child protection resources and knowledge are shared throughout the year.
Khula Development Group, Kin Culture, Paarl Youth Initiative, Salt and Light Kids, Ma’s vir Wellington, Ikhaya le Themba, Good Hope Psychological Service, Drakenstein se Jong doudruppels, Aitsa! Aftercare, Mosaic Community Developments, Score/Hope Through Action (Franschhoek Valley Community Sport Centre), The Royalty Project, Athlone House of Strength, Badisa Wellington, Change within Development Consultancy, Fountain of Hope, Amazing Brainz, Renew your Mind, The Grape Community, Huis Andrew Murray CYCC, Sp(i)eel Arts Therapies Collective, Childline Western Cape, Rise up with Advocacy and Action, Grassroots Sport and Culture as well as Stellcare Stellenbosch.
“Even though child neglect, abuse and exploitation seem to be on the increase with rising poverty levels in the country, we remain hopeful,” says Mariëtte Jacobs, MD of Ezrah Community Training and Development NPC and Coordinator of the Drakenstein Child Protection Programme.
“Through networking, strong relationships and a commitment to keep the best interest of the child central we are optimistic that together we can build best practice models that can make a difference for children at ground level. In taking hands with the newly established Thuthuzela Care Centre in Paarl, we are looking forward to collectively reduce secondary trauma, especially for children who are survivors of sexual exploitation,” she continues.
DRAKENSTEIN CHILD PROTECTION STEERING GROUP INITIATIVES FOR 2021:
The Drakenstein Child Protection Steering Group members are facilitating the following child protection activities for child protection month and beyond:
Child protection training and mentoring
Ezrah facilitates several workshops throughout the year to equip leaders of child-focused organisations within the Cape Winelands with child protection-, child participation- and parent mentoring skills. During 2021, Ezrah in collaboration with Valcare is placing a specific focus on helping nonprofit organisations to develop and implement child protection policies for their organisations.
In turn, these organisations, Rise up With Advocacy and Action (RUWAA), Paarl Youth Initiative, Good Hope Psychological Service, Khula Development Group, Ikhaya le Themba, Ma’s vir Wellington NPC, Salt and Light Kids, Childline Western Cape as well as Score and Hope Through Action Foundation are creating awareness around children’s rights, child safety and the importance of having a child protection policy.
Some organisations such as Salt and Light, Childline Western Cape and Renew your Mind are aiming to implement anti-bullying campaigns and awareness campaigns at local schools and communities this year, while Ma’s vir Wellington NPC and Ikhaya le Themba are hosting parenting workshops to facilitate better parenting.
Distributing of physical resources
In response to increasing poverty that many families face, Salt and Light Kids, Ikhaya le Themba, Ma’s vir Wellington, Renew your Mind, Drakenstein se Jongdoudruppels, Fountain of Hope, Change within Development Consultancy, Mosaic Community Developments and others assist with food distribution to vulnerable communities and especially children.
All these initiatives are done within strict Covid-19 health and safety regulations, while points of contact are also used to teach children about personal hygiene.
During child protection week, Wellington SAPS/Wellington CPF will also implement the Star Bright project by handing out gift baskets to children from rural farm schools to make them aware of personal hygiene.
Sharing child protection resources
The wearing of green ribbons to celebrate child protection month is an initiative that the delegates of the steering group proudly participate in – but beyond just creating awareness, the sharing of child protection resources within communities is vitally important.
One of the Drakenstein Child Protection Programme collaborators, the Centre Against Sexual Exploitation South Africa (CASE-SA), is hosting the virtual launch of #ParentTalk: The Unspoken Epidemic of Children and Pornography (https://unspokenepidemic.co.za/) on the 1st of June, while The Royalty Project will share digital protection resources with parents, children and schools throughout the year.
This year Khula Development Group is hosting a child protection campaign with the theme “Protect yourself, protect your dream” using the acronym S.T.E.R.K. where they will convey strong child protection messages through a video, social media posts, colouring-in pages, a boardgame, puppet shows and sharing tips to parents and children related to protective factors.
Celebrating World Foster Day
Kin Culture not only provides support to foster families, but also hosts World Foster Day on the 31st of May to create awareness for foster and safety care and to celebrate foster families.
Providing educational and psycho-social support
Through love, education and psycho-social support and by connecting families to the relevant community resources, organisations such as Khula Development Group, Good Hope Psychological Service, Sp(i)eel Arts Therapies Collective, Aitsa! Aftercare and Amazing Brainz empower children throughout the year.
Ma’s vir Wellington also hosted the “Wees die Lig (Be the Light)” campaign in Wellington this year to shine the light on child protection and to pray for key child protection stakeholders.
Reporting child abuse
The steering group organisations take the reporting of child abuse and neglect very seriously. The Drakenstein Child Protection Steering Group is privileged to have organisations on board, such as Childline Western Cape, who supports children during their court cases, share resources, as well as provide information on how to access online counselling for children.
They are also hosting fun activities such as a word search to promote the new helpline number 116 which replaces the 0800 555 55 number.
“We are proud to be a partner of the Drakenstein Child Protection Programme and applaud the steering group for the difficult task that they are doing with passion and excellence. Child protection is only successful if children’s lives are truly changed for the better, and the only way this can be achieved is through collaboration. Change is possible – even if it is one step at a time,” says Ivan Swartz, CEO of Valcare.
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