Minister Debbie Schäfer
Western Cape Minister of Education
Following the front page story in the Cape Times (17/08/2014) regarding the rape game reportedly being played in a Mitchells Plain School, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) immediately launched a full investigation into the matter.
The purpose of the investigation was to establish whether this game was being played in our schools and if so, to what extent.
The WCED’s District Officials and Social Workers immediately visited schools to engage with principals, teachers and learners.
I can confirm that the report given to me after these visits is that the WCED has received no reports from the principals, teachers or learners that the game is being played.
This does not mean that we must be complacent. It is a sad reality that sexual violence is prevalent in our country and many of our children are often exposed to it directly or indirectly.
Therefore, the WCED does not take such reports lightly and will continue to engage with our schools to create an awareness of the dangers associated with alleged games such as this.
Our schools will also, from an educational and values-driven perspective, continue to educate children through the Life Orientation Curriculum about their bodies, their sexuality (at age appropriate levels) and their rights and responsibilities. It is offered to all learners from Grade R – Grade 12 in the subjects Life Skills (Gr R-6) and Life Orientation (Gr 7-12).
In the Foundation and Intermediate Phases the content focuses on knowing your body and how to keep oneself safe from sexual abuse. The curriculum does not encourage sexual behavior.
School education alone, however, will not necessarily address all the issues involved. Parents, caregivers, families, communities and religious institutions also need to educate children at home and after school about sexual abuse and violence and the importance of good moral values.
It is also important that our learners and schools know how to report abuse or seek guidance and assistance.
Learners are encouraged to contact our Safe Schools centre on 0800 45 46 47 to report sexual abuse and violence or receive advice and counselling.
The WCED takes child abuse very seriously and all abuse calls are handled sensitively and with care. When members of the public call the call centre they immediately receive online debriefing during crisis calls and, during non-crisis calls, are directed, when necessary, to the counselling agencies of the Western Cape Education Department, non-governmental organisations and community organisations.
In some instances the call centre will require the support of the South African Police Services or the applicable emergency service.
I would like to appeal to any learner, parent or educator that is aware of any abuse, violence or game such as the alleged rape game, to please make use of this toll-free service.
In order to assist schools in managing child abuse and sexual offences against children, the WCED have made available Guidelines called the “Abuse No More Protocol”
These guidelines have recently been amended and were sent to schools earlier this month. They are also available on the WCED’s website (http://wced.pgwc.gov.za/circulars/circulars14/lgsp.html#31_14.pdf*e_inf_top.html#e31_14.html
The Amended Abuse No More Protocol was developed in consultation and collaboration with a number of Provincial and National Government Departments, SAPS, the NPA, and various other organisations and institutions.
The protocol has been developed to help schools, employees and learners of the Western Cape Education Department to deal with sexual abuse and violence in the most efficient and effective way, ensuring that the best interest of the child is maintained.
In drafting the protocol, all relevant legislation regarding children was considered and applied. This legislation highlights the responsibility of educators who may suspect or deal with disclosures of child abuse and sexual offences against children, and the educators’ mandatory duty to report such incidents in the prescribed manner.
The guidelines also highlight the reporting procedures that can be used by learners, educators, employees, parents, caregivers or any other person.
The purpose of the protocol is to:
- assist all learners who are victims or perpetrators of child abuse, deliberate neglect or any sexual offences
- prescribe an approach for educators and employees of the Western Cape Education Department to –
(ii) (ii) intervene
(iii) (iii) report; and
(iv) (iv) provide support
in cases of child abuse, deliberate neglect and to children who are victims of sexual offences.
As educators are obligatory reporters of child abuse, deliberate neglect and sexual offences against children they have an important role to play in identifying and referring such cases; hence the need for clear guidelines and procedures.
Should anyone wish to report any incidents such as the game, rape rape, or any form of sexual abuse and violence, members of the public, parents or educators can follow the guidelines of the Abuse No More Protocol document, such as reporting any cases to the District office, or report the matter to the WCEDs Safe Schools hotline.
If referred to the district, the matter will be brought to the attention of the school social worker who will provide interventions on both curative and preventative levels.
I sincerely encourage all parents to also familiarise themselves with this document, and to play an active role in educating their children about their rights and responsibilities.