Child Abuse Research in South Africa - latest Issue
Volume 17, Issue 2, 2016
A psychological perspective on competency testing of the child victim and witness of sexual offences in South AfricaSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 1 –12 (2016)More Less
In most of the sexual offense cases, the victim's testimony is a pivotal part of the evidence presented in the court. In South Africa, the admissibility of a child's evidence in criminal cases is based on the presiding officer finding the child competent to testify. This is mostly determined through cursory voir dire examinations, often using inappropriate and inconsistent procedures. Developmental and international research on the competency examinations highlights concerns regarding current practices and provides guidelines on appropriate ways to assess the competency of the child-witness (Klemfuss & Ceci, 2012). While the assessment of child-witnesses and their competency is widely practiced in South Africa, there is no standard framework or uniform procedures that guide this assessment. This qualitative research relied on the principles of grounded theory to explore existing child-witness-competency-assessment procedures with a selected group of psycho-legal practitioners in South Africa. The research documented the absence of a formal protocol for child-witness-competency testing and highlighted the lack of minimum standards. A qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with psychologists and data obtained from supportive documentation provided information about psychological perceptions, and age- and developmentally appropriate, psychological procedures for child-witness-competency-examinations. Current procedures were analysed to develop a framework that offers a multidimensional assessment approach. This framework promotes the adoption of a uniform psycho-legal approach to child-witness-competency-assessment in South Africa.
States' compliance with the Palermo Protocol on trafficking in persons and protection of the rights of the child in the SADC regionSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 13 –36 (2016)More Less
Trafficking in persons is generally considered modern-day slavery and as such one of the most serious international crimes that the United Nations resolved to combat by adopting the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish TIP, especially Women and Children - generally referred to as the 'Palermo Protocol' - which supplemented the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC). Any one may be the victim of trafficking in persons. However, the Protocol aimed to protect the persons who are particularly the most vulnerable, namely women and children.
SADC is a regional organisation consisting of 15 member states, namely: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is not immune to trafficking in persons, especially women and children since each member state is a source, a transit and a destination of trafficking in persons. To combat the scourge of trafficking in persons, several pieces of legislation were passed at the national level and the judiciary has stepped in to punish the perpetrators of this crime. At the regional level, a 10-Year SADC Strategic Plan of Action on Combatting Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2009-2019) was also adopted.
Against this background, this article reflects on trafficking in persons in SADC Member States and assesses their compliance with the Palermo Protocol with a focus on the rights of the children.
Religious beliefs and practices contributing towards child abuse and neglect : the case of Johanne Masowe Yechishanu Apostolic sect, Harare, ZimbabweSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 37 –48 (2016)More Less
Though religion has played a profound role in human life since time immemorial, there are certain religious beliefs and practices that have proved to be detrimental to child development. This study sought to explore the contribution of religious beliefs and practices toward child abuse and neglect in the context of African initiated apostolic sects in Zimbabwe focusing on Johanne Masowe Yechishanu Apostolic sect, Harare, Zimbabwe. The study adopted a qualitative approach. Convenient and purposive sampling techniques were used to select fifteen (15) members of the religious sect for data collection. Out of these fifteen (15), ten (10) were female while five (5) were male believers in the church. Data was collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews and was analysed thematically. It was found that there are a number of religious beliefs and practices in Johanne Masowe Yechishanu that violate child rights as provided by the law in Zimbabwe. The abuse and neglect of children have been observed in aspects of life such as health care, education and sexuality as well as social matters. In order to address these abuses and the neglect suffered by the children of parents who uphold such detrimental beliefs, policies should be developed to allow social workers to work closely with these churches and intervene appropriately so that the welfare of children can be enhanced. This study, while based, upon the Zimbabwean experience, is of relevance to all African countries who face social problems as a result of cultural practices. Furthermore, an Afrocentric social work perspective should be applied when working with these churches since they have an African origin and roots.
Author Corene De WetSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 49 –63 (2016)More Less
This study explores contemporary South African young adult fiction's (YAF) portrayal of bullying. The eleven books that received the M.E.R. prize for YAF books during the period 1995 to 2015 and describe one or more incident of bullying form the corpus of the text for the study. Content analysis was used to gain insight into YAF authors' portrayal of bullying. The study shows that bullying is not an important theme in South African YAF. The study sheds light on YAF authors' characterisation of child victims, bullies, bully-victims and bystanders; the different types of bullying; and the coping strategies of the victims. Four of the YAF books characterise adults-as-bullies and give insight into the types of bullying they perpetrate. Although the study reveals similarities between the authors' portrayal of bullying and empirical research findings, the study has also found that the YAF books often perpetuate bullying myths. The study highlights the need for a comprehensive list of South African YAF books dealing with bullying; a proliferation of YAF on bullying that recognises South Africa's unique sociocultural and political context; and the possibility of therapists, including bibliotherapists and teachers, to use YAF to help children cope with bullying.
A psychological assessment protocol to supplement the medical triage regarding child abuse cases admitted to emergency departmentsAuthor Lynn PrestonSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 64 –71 (2016)More Less
Child abuse (CA), which includes child sexual abuse (CSA), affects many children in South Africa. The true magnitude of this problem is not fully comprehended or comprehensively reported, as many of CA cases are not reported or disclosure is delayed. It was therefore vital to obtain pertinent, relevant and uniform information for the effective management of the situation. Firstly, this paper critically reflects on and evaluates findings gained from a literature review conducted to identify issues regarding the direct management and support of abused children who are seen in emergency departments at hospitals or clinics. Secondly, it reflects personal insight from first-hand experience in working with CA victims in an emergency department setting. A systematic search regarding psychological assessment protocols used when dealing with child abuse cases in the emergency departments was conducted using various databases. The study provided insight into international trends that can be applied to circumstances that prevail in a South African context. Based on this study and personal experience, a guideline is tendered regarding the development and implementation of a psychological intervention strategy that could supplement the medical triage currently used in emergency departments. It is with the unique South African context in mind that this simple three-phase psychological intervention strategy is proposed in order that all role players acquire a uniform guideline in obtaining precise and relevant documented information regarding the victim, the situation and the support systems relevant to the incident.
Experiences of collective efficacy and social disorganisation pertaining to crime risk in the lives of a sample of young persons residing in informal settlements in South AfricaSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 72 –82 (2016)More Less
The relationship between community social disorganisation, crime and victimisation is well known. Contrary thereto, informal control and social cohesion seem to inhibit crime and delinquency. A non-random sample of 188 young persons who are living in informal settlements in South Africa were surveyed to assess risk in terms of social disorganisation and protective factors in terms of social efficacy. The sample comprised of 58.5% male and 41.5% female participants with a mean age of 16.3 years. The research participants were questioned in terms of their family structure, neighbourhood cohesion and safety, access to drugs and criminal activity in neighbourhoods, parental affection and relationships, parental knowledge of the adolescent peer group and their family environment. It emerged from the data that the family composition of the participants is under strain and characteristic of family disorganisation. The parents of 50.2% of the participants were also doubtful about the peer associations of the participants, about 70% of the parents knew very little or nothing about the parents of the friends of the participants. Furthermore, 40.2% of the parents of the participants did not know who their children were with when they were not at home. The participants also indicated that 18.5% of their parents were not (never) and/or 4.8% were hardly ever aware of their social activities. Less than 40% of the participants' parents were involved in decisions regarding their children's social life. Activities associated with drug dealing such as young people loitering in streets and public places as well as criminal youth gangs, are common to participants'. An associative criminal subculture was reported by 67.5% of the participants, and 23% of the participants did not foresee any difficulty in obtaining an illegal gun, should they have need of one. Almost 54% of the participants experienced inadequate affective relationships with their parents, and 36% of the participants experienced rejection by their parents. Constant family discord played a lesser role in the participants' families. Physical violence occurred in 35% of the participants' families and 60% doubted that the adults in their families could be seen as good role models while 17% hardly ever or never (6%) set a good example for their children to follow. It therefore, follows that risk factors such as physical disorders within families, social disorder, family disruption, local adolescent friendship networks, and unsupervised adolescent peer groups should form the core foci of intervention programmes for at risk youths identified in these communities. Multi-sector, multidisciplinary interventions are required to empower these impoverished communities and to act as a safety mechanism. Support of these vulnerable communities remains an ethical responsibility of government and NGOs to support existing informal controls in these groups and to enhance social cohesion, in efforts to lower rates of crime and delinquency.
Derailed by a sugar daddy : an investigation of the failed treatment of an adolescent township rape survivor with PTSDSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 83 –94 (2016)More Less
This study investigates the transportability of an evidence-based psychological intervention to local contexts by documenting the treatment process with an isi-Xhosa speaking Black South African adolescent. She was sexually assaulted on two separate occasions, the second incident involved a gang rape by several perpetrators and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. She was treated using Ehlers and Clark's (2000) cognitive therapy (ECCT). Systematic case study methodology was used. Treatment was partially successful as Lulama prematurely terminated after 11 sessions. Nevertheless, her case study highlights some of the challenges in working with adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds characterised by dysfunctional home environments, parental psychopathology, community violence and the presence of perpetrators. The study identifies some of the obstacles that can be encountered when implementing trauma-focused interventions in local South African contexts and serves to sensitise practitioners to some of the conditions necessary for treatment to be effective.
Author Nathanael SiljeurSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 95 –102 (2016)More Less
Cyber-sex with children is becoming an enormous problem globally. The internet and technological advances have created opportunities for child abusers to access children more easily and coerce them into performing various sexual acts. Globally, great strides have been made with regards to child protection by means of international and regional conventions. Domestically, the South African Constitution and other legislation have put in place a robust legal framework to protect children from abuse. However, this article suggests that collaboration between public sector, private sector and civil society at international and national level is required to protect children. Law enforcement agencies, specifically the South African Police Service, should collect meaningful data related to sexual abuse of children and, furthermore, should strengthen their collaboration with international law enforcement agencies.
When parents interchange love with abuse : an analysis of parental-child abuse for correctional interventionSource: Child Abuse Research in South Africa 17, pp 103 –114 (2016)More Less
A great deal is known about child abuse, especially the devastating effect of abuse on the child. Substantial national and international research on child abuse exits that focuses on the child as the victim. However, less attention has been paid to really understanding the abuser. This is especially true regarding the parent-child abuser in terms of abuse onset, motives, triggers, and the specific life path and influences that contributed to, and shaped the parent into a child abuser.
This article presents a case study of a parent-child abuser's life journey, influences and crimes from a qualitative-criminological perspective. The mother's distinctive needs and risks for rehabilitation efforts are derived from her life path, while practical and achievable treatment strategies are recommended and put forward to serve as indicators for effective intervention efforts. The authors furthermore allude to the effects of the abuse on the child victims and the cycle of abuse.