Parents must demand safeguarding policies to protect children from abuse

Parents must demand safeguarding policies to protect children from abuse

South Africa has some of the best reactive, but poorest proactive legislation around sexual abuse in the world, contributing to inordinately high incidents of rape and related crimes.

This is according to The Guardian, South Africa’s only private safeguarding specialist company, led by former SAPS Child Protection Officer, Marc Hardwick. The Guardian offers specialised services and anonymous incident reporting to schools and sports institutions.

“Unless we address poor safeguarding practices, we’ll continue to struggle to prevent abuse and paedophilia. Parents must become proactive because safeguarding their children, no matter where they are, lies with them.”

“Some parents don’t feel they need to have ‘the talk’ with their children about sex and sexuality. This creates challenges when it comes to issues such as grooming and abuse. Parents should be questioning schools and sports organisations about their safeguarding policies because these play a huge role in preventing abuse and related trauma.

“Many think abusers hide in the shadows, but an abuser is normally trusted by the family and could be a parent, uncle, brother, teacher or coach,” added Hardwick.

The Guardian has recently launched an all-encompassing, first world proactive solution to child abuse, including a patented whistle-blowing app to anonymously report abuse, harassment and bullying, and a panic button for emergencies.

Research shows that in SA at least one in three adolescents have experienced sexual abuse; about 40 percent of women will be raped in their lifetime; only one in nine rapes are reported and only 14 percent of perpetrators are convicted. And, studies also show that childhood trauma may have devastating effects on brain development, the immune system, hormone regulation and the way DNA is read and transcribed.

In SA sport, allegations of sexual abuse have been reported in tennis, water polo, hockey, soccer, swimming and in schools. Common factors include special access to children, lack of boundaries during coaching or teaching, lack of regulation due to poor vetting and inadequate safeguarding policies, disbelief by authorities, parents willing to turn a blind eye to protect institutions, victim shaming and inadequate private internal investigations.

“Safeguarding policies, vetting procedures for all coaches or teachers, effective reporting and basic child protection education must become non-negotiable in every school and sports institution, and parents should be asking schools, churches and sports clubs if they have met these basic criteria,” said Hardwick, adding: “we must declare war against child abuse.”


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