Executive Director of Adopt-a-School Foundation, Steven Lebere, has expressed worry over, “The recent atrocities of violence and sèxual abuse cases in our schools has left our nation reeling.”
Lebere asked, “How are we to achieve our potential as a country, when our own children face sexual violation and abuse at school – the places where they are supposed to be protected and nurtured, by the people we have entrusted with their safety?”
“As Adopt-a-School Foundation, we strongly believe that these cases should be expediently dealt and that the maximum sentences be imposed for these heinous crimes.
“The government must continue to prioritise the provision of counselling support services to all the children affected as well as their peers and families. Educators and School Management must be supported to deal with the safety risks prevalent in schools and society at large.
“Violence is endemic in our society. Through our work in schools with our partner entities, the Foundation has observed, and responded to, the increase in cases of abuse affecting our learners. The prevalence of this crime in schools is robbing our children of their youth, and the country of its future. The violation of children’s basic right to protection from abuse is a national crisis and must be stopped,” Lebere added.
One in every five sèxual abuse cases that are reported in South Africa happen in schools. Adopt-a-School Foundation, a partner entity of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF), is actively responding to these social challenges by investing and contributing towards the development of South Africa’s rural and township schools.
Through their holistic programmes, a large focus is placed on the safety and social well-being of school children.
In September this year, CRF launched the Thari programme for the support of women and children. The programme is aimed at providing psychosocial support services and safe spaces at schools for vulnerable children, youths and women.
The programme aims to strengthen the systems in place for screening individuals who work with these children. The programme brings together multiple stakeholders in the community, in an effort to build awareness and education around abuse, ensuring that signs of abuse and trauma can be identified and addressed.