In line with the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for no violence against women and children, local NGO Lifeline/Childline are seeking to bring about awareness to their work in providing therapeutic counseling to child victims of rape, sexual abuse, and other traumatic experiences. The organization works under a seemingly two pronged approach. It conducts awareness campaigns amongst parents and children in the community, with the goal of preventing such incidents from occurring. They also provide actually therapy to affected youth.
Angelo Coetzee, community development officer at the Mitchell’s Plain branch of Lifeline/Childline, said the organization had in recent year’s channeled its focus away from the long running ‘Stranger Danger” campaign. This was due to an increasing number of cases of abuse, where the main perpetrator was either a family member or someone close to the victim.
In terms of the younger victims counseled, he noted the most effective method they used was that of ‘play therapy’. This method allowed social workers the opportunity to pick up on various behavioral patterns, based on how the children expressed themselves.
“This is quite big in terms of therapeutic counseling, and they (victims) come in for regular sessions with our social workers. This is while I go out into the schools to do prevention and awareness,” he noted.
He said it was imperative that children received the correct counseling, as a failure to do so would put them at risk of growing up thinking that abuse was acceptable. This could potentially lead to repercussions later in life. He added that the biggest possible success story they could achieve with a child, is successful getting them to testify against the aggressor.
“That’s why we need to encourage children to speak out against abuse, because we need to get them to understand that their voice has power, and there are people who will listen,” he explained.
Apart from therapeutic counseling, Lifeline/Childline also offers specialized training programs for adults. This focuses specifically on educating them around positive discipline of their children. According to him, the concept of punishment was fear based, and whilst it may have been effective on the previous generation of youth, such methods were unlikely to work on the current crop. Where punishment taught children to behave in the presence of adults, he said positive discipline would bring about a more sustained form of self control amongst the child.
“Positive discipline teaches children to become self-disciplined, and to exercise self control. We cannot be everywhere our children are, so we need to teach them to exercise self-control,” he said.
As a result, the organization is offering free positive parenting courses for adults, with special programmes dedicated to alternate discipline strategies.
For more information on Lifeline/Childline or its courses, you may visit the website www.lifelinewc.org.za. Alternatively you may contact them at 021 461-1113. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)