Protecting the most vulnerable children through support and counselling, and a wide range of services and programmes related to child protection.
Approximately 1.6 million children have been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and there are approximately 95 000 children living in child-headed households. Added to the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS are the very high levels of abuse that children face on a daily basis. Children are abused physically, sexually and emotionally by their caregivers, parents, relatives, neighbours and strangers. Additional problems include neglect, abandonment, child trafficking and prostitution, exposure to domestic and criminal violence, exposure to pornography, sexuality and gender discrimination and bullying. Approximately 61% of South Africa’s 18 million children live in poverty and many are homeless or resort to begging in order to survive. All of these issues impact negatively on children’s development and their wellbeing and make them vulnerable to exploitation and further abuse. Children living in vulnerable and abusive situations are deprived of opportunities to lead productive and happy lives.
Based in Johannesburg, Childline Gauteng falls under the SA Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and was established in 1986. Currently, the organisation has community- based centres in the Inner City as well as surrounding townships in Gauteng (Soweto, Diepsloot, Tembisa, Katrous, Sebokeng, and Orange Farm). Within these sub districts the organisation seeks to create a safer environment for children at risk through programmes and activities that are both comprehensive and interlinked.
Along with community-based centres, the organisation also provides clinical and counselling support, training and development and a prevention staff programme. The organisation also runs the Sunlight Safe House which temporarily accommodates children who have been removed from their home and are awaiting placement into a place of safety.
Childline Gauteng’s services are further explained as follows:
- 24 hour crisis line: trained counsellors provided information, support and assistance to children and their families. Calls are in relation to a variety of issues including abuses, discrimination, neglect, HIV/AIDs and poverty.
- Training and development: training is provided to Childline volunteers and professionals. These include social workers, counsellors, crisis line operators and safehouse mothers. The organisation has further developed their training to service companies seeking to assist their employees.
- Counselling and support: trained social workers provide a range of counselling and support services to children. The organisation also provides training to teachers and ECD workers – a process that strengthens the child protection system.
- Sunlight Safe House: provides emergency overnight shelter for extremely vulnerable children. This included children who have been removed by police and are awaiting a suitable placement into a place of safety.
- Community awareness and prevention: teams at the satellite offices identify vulnerable schools in their vicinity and conduct class discussions related to children’s rights and responsibilities. Information is also provided to children regarding who they should inform if they are hurt by someone.
The organisation liaises with government at local, provincial and national level regarding child protection laws. They also work alongside other civil society organisations that make up part of the child protection community, meeting frequently to discuss related issues. Partners include Child Welfare Societies, Teddy Bear Clinic, POWA, Sonke Gender Justice, Afrika Tikkun, Children and Violence Trust and Nkosi’s Haven.
Through the statistics provided through Childline’s crisis line the organisation is able to identify trends in child protection. These trends inform the training material that the organisation designs.
What we like about this organisation
- Childline provides holistic services around child protection that are both preventative and responsive.
- The organisation has the skills, expertise and established networks with SAPS, the Department of Social Development and the justice system to process and address their beneficiaries’ concerns. Their array of approaches are customiszed to each of their beneficiaries.
What difference can your money make?
- R10 000 covers the cost of taking care of one child for one year. This includes food, medical care, schooling and any special counselling or therapy that may be required
- R250 000 could cover the cost of child rights campaigns for a year
- R750 000 could contribute towards half the running costs of a community-based centre
- The process to become a Childline volunteer includes an intake interview and coaching. The minimum requirements for volunteering are as follows:
- Minimum age is 18 years
- Five day training programme
- Minimum of eight hours volunteering per month
- Commitment for at least one year