KZN child abuse SOS

20 000 calls to Childline a month

Daily News 4 Apr 2017


CHILDLINE KwaZuluNatal receives 20 000 calls from distressed children across the province each month, with issues ranging from sexual abuse to bullying.

This is according to Adeshini Naicker, the non-government organisation’s operations manager, who said the bulk of calls came from youngsters living in the Durban metro.

“Most of these children live in Chatsworth, Phoenix, Pinetown, Inanda, KwaMashu and uMlazi. On average we have an even distribution of boys and girls calling in,” she said.

Naicker said Childline staff dealt with calls about rape, sexual, emotional and physical abuse, bullying, negligence, drugs, alcoholism and divorce.

The Childline KZN call centre is manned by a staff of 10. There are at least four on a shift and three counsellors are available at night.

Naicker said when a youngster called, the counsellor determined if the child was in immediate danger and needed to be removed from their home or required counselling.

“If the child is in immediate danger, police in the relevant area and a social worker are contacted and asked to do an immediate home visit. Due to the fact that we do not have the mandate to remove a child or do a home visit, we then refer to the relevant service providers in the area.

“The bulk of our callers call for advice and counselling.

“For those who wish to remain anonymous and do not welcome physical intervention, they are counselled over the phone,” said Naicker.

“We also have an increasing number of adults calling in for advice,” she said.

Once a counsellor has advised a young caller, if a child needs to be removed or a house inspection conducted, the child’s details are handed to a social worker for follow-up work.

“If the telephonic counselling session is inadequate, then we refer the case to our own social workers in the respective areas preferably.

“We have 13 sub-offices for therapeutic intervention,” said Naicker.

Jackie Branfield, founder of Operation Bobbi Bear, said the number of calls Childline received was alarming.

“Something we must remember is that those are only the children who have access to phones. What about the hundreds more who cannot access cellphones?

“Often we receive voice messages from youngsters asking for help, but when we call back, an adult answers the phone,” said Branfield.

She applauded Childline KZN for its efforts.

Branfield implored schools and churches to step up to assist vulnerable children.

“I know teachers have a lot on their plates but most times they are a child’s first line of defence.

“We work closely with schools and many times after a counselling presentation, we get at least 10 disclosures from children. We need teachers to then contact associations that help vulnerable children and report the matter.”

Branfield said children do not have access to lawyers nor do they have access to transport to go to centres where they can talk to someone who could best help them.

“There needs to be more centres set up closer to schools so children have easy access to them. It is very difficult to get funding from the government for NGOs and this is where churches should step in and assist. There should be easy access to centres and counsellors so that we can protect our children and they can feel safe,” she said.

‘Often we receive voice messages from youngsters asking for help, but when we call back, an adult answers the phone’