Definitions and FAQs
'abandoned' , in relation to a child, means a child who-
(a) has obviously been deserted by the parent, guardian or care-giver; or (b) has, for no apparent reason, had no contact with the parent, guardian, or care-giver for a period of at least three months.
'abuse' , in relation to a child, means any form of harm or ill-treatment deliberately inflicted on a child, and includes-
(a) assaulting a child or inflicting any other form of deliberate injury to a child; (b) sexually abusing a child or allowing a child to be sexually abused; (c) bullying by another child;
(d) a labour practice that exploits a child; or
(e) exposing or subjecting a child to behaviour that may harm the child psychologically or emotionally.
'child' means a person under the age of 18 years.
‘exploitation’ - in relation to a child, includes-
(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, including debt bondage or forced marriage;
(b) sexual exploitation;
(d) forced labour or services;
(e) child labour prohibited in terms of section 141;
(f) and the removal of body parts;
'neglect' , in relation to a child, means a failure in the exercise of parental responsibilities to provide for the child's basic physical, intellectual, emotional or social needs.
'sexual abuse' , in relation to a child, means-
(a) sexually molesting or assaulting a child or allowing a child to be sexually molested or assaulted;
(b) encouraging, inducing or forcing a child to be used for the sexual gratification of another person;
(c) using a child in or deliberately exposing a child to sexual activities or pornography; or
(d) procuring or allowing a child to be procured for commercial sexual exploitation or in any way participating or assisting in the commercial sexual exploitation of a child;
1. WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse is a term that describes deliberate behaviour that results in significant negative emotional, mental or physical harm for a child
2. ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHILD ABUSE?
Yes, child abuse may take many forms and can include things like:
(a) physical abuse: the intentional use of force on any part of a child's body that results in injury
(b) emotional abuse: anything that causes serious mental or emotional harm to a child, which the parent does not attempt to prevent or address
(c) sexual abuse: the improper exposure of a child to sexual contact, activity or behaviour
(d) deliberate neglect: any lack of care that may cause significant harm to a child's development or endangers the child in any way.
3. HOW DO I KNOW IF A CHILD IS IN NEED OF CARE AND PROTECTION?
A child is in need of care and protection if the child—
(a) has been abandoned or orphaned and is without any visible means of support;
(b) displays behaviour which cannot be controlled by the parent or care-giver;
(c) lives or works on the streets or begs for a living;
(d) is addicted to a dependence-producing substance and is without any support to obtain treatment for such dependency;
(e) has been exploited or lives in circumstances that expose the child to exploitation;
(f) lives in or is exposed to circumstances which may seriously harm that child’s physical, mental or social well-being;
(g) may be at risk if returned to the custody of the parent, guardian or care- giver of the child as there is reason to believe that he or she will live in or be exposed to circumstances which may seriously harm the physical, mental or social well-being of the child;
(h) is in a state of physical or mental neglect; or
(i) is being maltreated, abused, deliberately neglected or degraded by a parent, a care-giver, a person who has parental responsibilities and rights or a family member of the child or by a person under whose control the child is.
4. WHAT DO I DO IF I SUSPECT CHILD ABUSE / DELIBERATE NEGLECT?
Reporting of abused or neglected child and child in need of care and protection.—
(a) Any correctional official, dentist, homeopath, immigration official, labourinspector, legal practitioner, medical practitioner, midwife, minister of religion, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist, religious leader, social service professional, social worker, speech therapist, teacher, traditional health practitioner, traditional leader or member of staff or volunteer worker at a partial care facility, drop-in centre or child and youth care centre who on reasonable grounds concludes that a child has been abused in a manner causing physical injury, sexually abused or deliberately neglected, must report that conclusion in the prescribed form to a designated child protection organisation, the provincial department of social development or a police official.
(b) Any person who on reasonable grounds believes that a child is in need of care and protection may report that belief to the provincial department of social development, a designated child protection organisation or a police official.
5. WHO DO I REPORT TO?
A report of child abuse must be reported to at least one of the following (but all three if possible); the police, a child protection social worker, and the Department of Social Development.
6. WHERE DO I FIND A CHILD PROTECTION SOCIAL WORKER?
Child protection / designated social workers can be found at your local child welfare, child protection organization, or the Department of Social Development.
7. WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN ONCE I REPORT THE ABUSE?
Once a case of suspected child abuse has been reported a home visit should be conducted by the police, and or, the social worker with whom the report was made. Depending on the circumstances of the home visit, the child may be removed from the home immediately, pending a formal investigation.
8. CAN I BE HELD LIABLE IF I REPORT THAT A CHILD IS BEING ABUSED, AND THE INVESTGATION FINDS THAT THE CHILD IS NOT BEING ABUSED?
No, a person who makes a report in good faith will not be held liable to civil action on the basis of the report.
9. I HAVE REPORTED ABUSE, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED TO PROTECT THE CHILD, WHAT DO I DO?
If you have already reported abuse to the police, child protection social worker, and the Department of Social Development, and nothing has happened, you need to approach the Children’s Court in the area where the abuse is taking place.
The clerk of the Children’s Court will assist you in completing a form 2 (a form for bringing a matter to court). The Children’s Court will then allocate the case to a social worker for investigation.
10. CAN ANYONE REMOVE A CHILD FROM THEIR HOME?
No, only a designated social worker or police officer may remove a child.
11. I AM PREGNANT, BUT I DON’T WANT TO KEEP THE BABY, WHAT CAN I DO?
There are a number of options that you can choose for your baby.
(a) Abortion - If you are still early in the pregnancy, youcan choose to have an abortion. However illegal and street abortions are very dangerous and are not always successful. If you choose to have an abortion, make sure you to contact a reputable clinic.
(b) Kinship Care – If you are not able to keep your baby but are not able to care for him/her yourself, you can have your baby placed with and cared for by a family member.
(c) Adoption – You can make the choice to place your baby in adoption. You will need to contact a social worker who will assist you with the process.