Since it is clear that the Criminal Justice System fails victims of sexual offences, AfriForum advises schools, teachers, parents and learners to act proactively against sexual bullying behaviour.
This follows reporting as well as Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education’s reaction in parliament last week about the increase in sexual offences in South African schools.
In the past three years, more than 452 cases of sexual misconduct have been reported to the South African Council for Educators (SARO).
The 2022 crime statistics show, among other things, that 294 of the reported rapes took place on the premises of educational institutions.
“These figures are alarming, and it is important that these cases are thoroughly investigated. In South Africa, sexual crimes and bullying are increasing daily. Schools must be a safe haven for children, as well as for teachers, where they can focus on academics. Safe schools also ensure safe communities, not only now, but also in the future,” says Leandie Bräsler, AfriForum’s manager for Youth Leadership.
“These statistics prove that the President, Minister of Justice, South African Police Service (SAPS), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the courts’ promise to prioritize cases of gender-based violence and sexual offenses with minor victims is only paying lip service to the public,” says Adv. Phyllis Vorster of AfriForum’s Private Prosecutions Unit.
Vorster is of the opinion that the Independent Complaints Directorate should compile a dossier in which they answer the following questions:
What have they done to ensure proper treatment and service at family courts?
What have they done to ensure competent prosecutions of GBV matters?
What have they done about the current pandemic of GBV and sexual offences where minors are the victims?
“The application of the law in schools is disciplinary action. Our view is that we must ensure that the law becomes predictable. If the law is predictable and there is a predictable outcome when violations take place, it will be a good deterrent. The law must then also be applicable to both the perpetrator and the victim to prevent false accusations,” Vorster adds.
“Children will not necessarily say when they are a victim of sexual violence, but parents and teachers may notice signs and must therefore be aware of what the signs may be so that immediate action can be taken to stop or prevent incidents of this nature. These include physical indications such as unexplained bruises or emotional signs such as changes in behaviour. Some children may only show subtle signs, and some children may not even give any indications, but parents must work on the communication and trusting relationships between them and their children so that the children will feel comfortable to mention any events of this nature to them,” says Bräsler.
Signs of child sexual abuse may include the following:
Crying for no apparent reason;
Looking scared or showing signs of anxiety or depression;
Asking questions like “should people keep secrets?”;
Isolating themselves from friends and other people;
Showing harmful sexual behaviour;
Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping a lot more or a lot less);
Changes in eating patterns (drastically losing weight or drastically gaining weight) and
Academic performance suffering.
It is very important for schools, educators, parents, and students to act proactively and to stop bullying in any form. For more information about AfriForum’s anti-bully campaign, visit www.teenboelie.co.za.
Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum
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