Who are we and what do we do?
Childline Western Cape is affiliated to Childline South Africa. We are a counselling and training organisation in the field of child (sexual) abuse. We also play an advocacy role in the fight for the recognition and implementation of Children’s Rights, as well as the implementation of legislation governing the protection of children.
We are most well-known for our telephone counselling service, but in fact offer a wide-range of other services to communities in the greater Cape Town area. Other services include face-to-face counselling for children between the ages of three to seventeen years old. We also facilitate support groups for children, as well as for parents. Childline Western Cape offers training for both children and adults in the area of child (sexual) abuse, through our Prevention and Awareness programmes. Very often both children and adults are not aware what the different forms of abuse are. Through our workshops and training sessions, we aim to educate and empower children and adults through knowledge and also giving them the skills and resources to take a stand against child abuse.
COUNSELLING FOR CHILDREN
On our telephone counselling service, callers can phone in on our tollfree number, 08000 55 555, to talk about any child-related issue. We aim to offer this service 24-hours per day, 365 days per year. There are a wide range of reasons why callers phone in on Childline.
Childline receives calls from children and teenagers and even adults about all sorts of things. Sometimes they are lonely or miserable and can't sort their feelings out. Some of them are worried about school or have problems at home. Children and teenagers who are being abused, physically, emotionally or sexually phone us. We also receive calls from children and teenagers who want to talk about pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, HIV/AIDS, homelessness and running away from home. Sometimes children and teenagers phone us if they are worried about their friends or their parents. Many of the calls come from children and teenagers who feel that no-one cares about them or their problems.
Adults may call in with concerns around safety of children, or when they need to discuss issues around parenting or concerns adults may have with regard to children. Sometimes an adult may call in because they are not sure how to find help for a child in need.
We are not a statutory organisation, therefore, do not go out and do home-visits or removal of children. Instead, we report cases of abuse of children, to the relevant statutory organisation. The Social Worker at that organisation is obligated to follow-up and investigate the case we have reported. The safety of the child is of paramount importance to us.
We have dedicated Childline telephone counsellors and a pool of LifeLine/Childline Western Cape volunteer counsellors who man the line and counsel those who call in on Childline. These counsellors are trained to offer counselling for any kind of problem and to refer the caller to a more specialised or statutory organisation when necessary.
If you need to talk, call Childline on 08000 55 555. If you don't get through the first time, press the redial button or dial the number again. Keep trying, as the counsellors are there and may just be busy on one of the lines when you call. Your call is always important to them.
Besides our telephone counselling service, we also offer individual counselling for children from three until seventeen years old who need counselling and support in the area of:
• Sexual abuse
• Court support (for children who need to testify)
Through individual counselling, we address the needs of children in the communities we serve. Our aim is to equip and empower children with coping skills, to deal with the trauma they have experienced.
Children who have been traumatised need an environment that is safe and confidential. This is in order for them to express the range of feelings (such as anger, guilt, fear, etc) they may experience as a result of the trauma. This is an important part of their recovery process and emotional wellness.
We have skilled Childline Social Workers based at our outreach Centres, where Childline services are offered, who facilitate the healing process of the child. There are a number of ways for the child to express themselves. They do this through mediums such as play therapy, sandtray therapy or other creative child-friendly ways.
We have found through our work, that some children benefit from talking about their issues in a group, with other children who have had similar experiences. We therefore offer support groups to children and teenagers who have experienced
• Sexual abuse
• Lifeskills (for children at risk)
There is a selection process for members who want to participate or who have been identified as potential group participants. Once the groups are formed, a contract is drawn up between the members and facilitator. We run closed groups over a period of approximately eight to ten weeks, where various topics are covered that involve activities and discussion around issues that may affect the group members as a result of the trauma.
Prevention and Awareness Workshops and training
At times, parents, caregivers or other adults are confronted with a child disclosing abuse or having a suspicion that a child is being abused. Armed with this information, many times, the adult does not know what to do or where to go.
Our training programmes educate adults, be they professionals, caregivers, community members or youth workers to understand the different types of abuse that a child may be exposed to. We work through issues such as identifying possible forms of abuse. Being aware of the impact of abuse is also an important aspect of understanding, assisting and supporting a child to safety. A key element of our training is that adults need to understand their role under the new legislation with regard to Child Protection issues. It is important that adults understand how and where to refer cases of child abuse for further investigation and follow-up. The ultimate goal should always be to work in the best interest of the child.
Children who participate in our prevention and awareness programmes are equipped to understand what abuse is. There is also discussion around body safety. An important part of our programme is not only to get the child to say No! to being abuse, but to help them identify someone that they trust that could assist them in getting the help they need in order to be safe. We teach them the Childline tollfree number. The responsible use of the tollfree number is also discussed.
If you are interested in having us come and present any of our Prevention and Awareness Programmes, please feel free to contact one of our outreach centres.
Optimism enriches the present, enhances the future, challenges the impossible and attains the impossible
William Arthur Ward