A Child Protection Hotline was launched in Hartbeespoort las week and it will offer any child, caregiver of children, parent, teacher or anyone invested in the wellbeing of children, the opportunity to report any alleged child abuse, child neglect or bullying.
A hotline in Brits has already been established in August.
“This hotline’s main aim is to assist children in trouble. It is a channel for children to safely report abuse via a phone call, WhatsApp message or SMS. The message will be assessed and forwarded to police, social development department, emergency services and relevant authorities. We expect these authorities to do their work and will follow up after feedback from complainants,” says Danie van Loggerenberg, founder of Toys for Africa, which led to the establishment of already 15 child protection hotlines all over South Africa.
The call centre in Hartbeespoort is being sponsored by King Price and will operate in conjunction with the Brits Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual offences (FCS) unit of the police in the Brits police cluster, social workers in the area and the Harties foundation.
“We will be visiting schools in the area in the near future where the hotline will be introduced and children educated on abuse and what is right and wrong in this context. Many children, who suffer abuse, do not realise that is not the norm,. and we want to address this,” he says. “All children must be safe. A child should not be raped, molested, neglected or abused and a Child has to know this is not normal or acceptable. We work very closely with the police and have regular meetings with the family advocate and justice department.”
Toys for Africa, a non-profit organisation that was founded to distribute educational toys, and stationary to underprivileged children, founded the Child Protection Hotline in September 2019. “While we were distributing toys and stationary at schools, we became aware of many other challenges faced by the children. One of them was abuse, and the idea for a hotline was born,” says Danie. “Since 2016 we have been visiting schools with the police to talk about and educate children on bullying, child abuse, child neglect, drugs, the basic rights of children and cyber bullying.”
The hotlines in different areas are established in conjunction with the police and other role players. In Brits, local security company, Monitor Net, and local Brits attorneys Langenhoven Pistorius Modihapula, have partnered with Toys for Africa to launch The Brits Child Protection Hotline.
“The hotline is not an investigating arm, but rather an opportunity to report alleged child abuse, child neglect or bullying and we in return will make contact with the relevant authorities to get the children in need the assistance they need,” he says.
The Hartbeespoort Hotline is now open to receive WhatsApp messages, SMS messages and phone calls on 072 086 5854.
“Currently I personally handle every single SMS, WhatsApp and phone call received by all the hotlines. We will soon open a call centre and the plan is to have a trained social worker available at all times, while rotating the calls and messages received between myself and other call centre operators.” He says the messages received by the hotlines varies from complaints about neighbours shouting at their children, children being touched inappropriately, abuse and child pornography.