“You can spend a lifetime trying to forget a few minutes of your childhood.”
So said a poster by a Muhammadeyah Primary School pupil. The poster is part of an exhibition at Wynberg police station for the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
Colonel Rufie Nel said schools were invited to take part in the exhibition so that police could gauge how aware young people were of violence.
“We saw that young people are very aware, but hopefully they haven’t experienced these things for themselves,” Colonel Nel said.
He said the campaign came about because police were concerned about the high number of assaults at schools.
“The idea was to get schools involved because more and more incidents of violence occur at our schools. Young people, every week, are arrested for violence at all schools.
“It’s not above the line or below the line – it’s all schools.”
He encouraged the pupils to commit to choosing non-violence.
“Violence does not belong in schools. Can you commit yourselves that this will not happen anymore?” he said.
Captain Abigail Golding, a social worker at the Wynberg Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) explained how difficult it was for people who have been sexually assaulted to talk about the offence.
“Most of the children that I have seen prefer to tell their teachers first,” she said. “But sometimes it is the teacher that is doing it.”
Captain Golding said the person who intends to sexually assault a child spends time “grooming” them first.
“He will make you feel very special, make you feel good,” Captain Golding said, explaining that the groomer will compliment, give gifts to and pay extra special attention to a child to gain their confidence, “until he gets you to his home or into his car and then does it against your will”.
She said police had come a long way with the sensitive handling of sexual offence cases “to make the process easier”.
“Thesearenot things that are easy to talk about.”
She also encouraged teachers to report the suspicion of abuse.
“You don’t have to have evidence,” Captain Golding said.