Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New law ‘to hurt kids’


Reaction to the article 'new law to hurt kids':

The children will suffer the consequences of even fewer adoptions being done if the changes to the Bill is implemented as recommended by the Department of Social Development, says Ms. Nina de Caires, Tshwane Representative on the National Adoption Coalition and Supervisor of the Adoption Unit at Child Welfare Tshwane.

“Professionals in the private sector, specialising in adoptions, will no longer want to assist in adoption cases and the abandoned, orphaned and children in need of care and protection will suffer”, says De Caires. “The focus is on getting homes for children, and not finances.”

Child Welfare Tshwane does not discriminate and all decisions on adoptions are made with the best interest of the child in mind. We support the Constitutional right of every child to belong to a family!
De Caires added that the reason for charging fees, based on a means scale, is purely to cover the shortfall as the subsidies from the Department are inadequate. Overheads like administration costs and advertising, have to be covered for each adoption.

She also said that specialisation in adoption is important as this is a permanent placement and social workers have to be skilled to make these important assessments in collaboration with other professionals like medical doctors.

“In my opinion, there are many children in need of care and protection and many abandoned children every year. The more professionals we have contributing to the future of the children, the better. Finding homes and families for children should be the ultimate goal – we should not focus on the money but rather finding a loving solution for children."

Friday, 14 June 2019

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference – Aristotle

The future of all nations depends on the youth and according to reports the youth represents an average of 34% of all people on earth.  They have the power and destiny to change a nation and as such is a powerful part of the population. As we celebrate Youth Month however, we need to also make the younger generation aware of the immense responsibilities they have towards the nation and their own families.

It is so important that the youth play a part in the creation of sustainable development in the country. Development needs to change the economy and social landscape of the country and should bring equal opportunities to all members of the community. 

They also have a part to play to change the mentality of our nation – change those things you do not like.  As a large part of the community, youth can bring positive attitude to give impetus to changing the way society thinks.

It is also important to look at the educational system. In India they have changed what is taught to what is required to be successful – an approach that will benefit them in years to come.  When you teach according to people’s interest you do not loose talent.  How many lawyers, accountants and engineers do we need versus our need for entrepreneurs, creative minds and environmental scientists? 
The youth also have the opportunity and responsibility to explore new avenues.  We need them to help us figure out ways in which to use the talent and potential in the upcoming generations.  There needs to be new career opportunities for people with extraordinary talents.    They need to bring their energy and vision to help our country with a makeover.

But how can we make sure that the youth is ready to take on their responsibilities? 

  • Education:  Any country needs educated, well informed and responsible leaders.  So do you actively encourage your child to grow his/her knowledge?  It is important to provide learning opportunities for the children by teaching them about nature and the environment, introducing them to different cultures so they develop an understanding and appreciation for other people.  It is not only important for children to finish school and learn basic academic skills – this process also teaches you to think and reason, and in a changing environment like South Africa we need thinking leaders.
  • Youth will be the next parents – are we teaching them how to be effective parents?  Are we setting examples for them?  There are many books on parenting, but nothing is more effective than a leading example – when a child knows love and grows up in a caring environment the chances are good that he/she will also be a caring, loving parent. 
  • Nothing will happen in our community if youths don’t work to accomplish their role but we need to help them find their “true north”.  By giving our children a sense of direction we can guide their thoughts and plans for the future – but it is important to make them part of the decision-making process.  We need to also make them aware that tertiary study is not a right but when you have the opportunity to study it should be used to the fullest.

This brings me to effective parenting and the very important role we as parents and caregivers play in the lives of children.  We are central to the emotional well-being of the children – affectionate, supportive and involved parents contribute to the communication, cognitive and social development of their children.  It builds strong self-esteem and sense of well-being.

We are therefore in fact busy shaping our own futures as well when we guide the youth towards proper decision-making, acceptable lifestyles and a code of conduct which includes loyalty, humility, excellence and self-discipline.

Although both parents are important, the father figure is often linked to healthy development in both boys and girls.  It is any man with whom a child can connect on a deeply psychological level and who generates emotions generally felt toward one’s father.   Where the mother is often the consistent factor in a child’s day: nurturing, transporting and feeding them, the father is the one that will play and wrestle a bit and bring fun at the end of the day.

A father is also the person teaching the child that treating a woman with dignity is a strength.  A strong man will show his boys how to treat a woman if you are upset with her and his daughters will see that a standard in a relationship cannot be ignored and this will make them good future partners and parents as well.   It is good for a father to also cheer his son on but to also see excellence in your daughters.  Many successful women had supportive dads!  A girl who is adored by her father internalise this good experience and knows what it means to feel special.  She knows intuitively how to pick a good partner and how to feel and give love. It will be less likely that she will get involved in an abusive or unhealthy relationship because she has a positive role model.

When we guide our children to become strong, independent youths they will be able to lead their generation.  We are the vaccine they need against the ills of society and the help they need to grow wings.

At Child Welfare Tshwane, we also assist children placed in Foster Care or in the Child and Youth Care Centre, we often need to find replacement father figures who can assist and guide these children towards their goals.  We have several volunteers helping us with our WINGS programme, a programme aimed at preparing the youths for the day they will leave the care facility or foster home and must survive on their own.  Many children do not have any supporting family structures and have to be independent once they leave so we try to equip them as best we can.

The programme includes budgeting, how to find accommodation, how to compile a CV and cope with a job interview and basic cooking lessons but it also addresses the softer issues like sexuality, relationships and helping the child set a personal code of conduct. 

If you would like to contribute your time and knowledge to this programme, please contact us on 012-4609236 and speak to Caren or Hanlie. 

Monday, 3 June 2019

DAD – the superhero without a cape!

Every father should remember that one day his child will follow his example, not his advice – Charles Kettering, Success.Com

With Father’s Day on 16 June, we turn our attention to the men in our lives and the key part they play in the developmental phases of our children.  Although many children grow up without a father in the house, it is very important for a child to have a male role model that they can relate to.

According to a blog by Ditta M Oliker, Ph.D., on Psychology Today (2011), the world has radically changed as we grew accustomed to the social, economic and technical advances of the 20th century.  These changes also forced a change in the basic structure and functioning of the family, with a consequent shift in the authority of the father. His influence was increasingly seen as minor, even negligible, and his importance was defined by how well he provided for the family.

She believes that the then-new field of psychology contributed to the diminished role of the father. Until then, not a lot of research was done on the importance on the role of the father, and his influence on the development and growth of his child was reported as "insignificant."  When referring to the term "parent", reference was often made to the mother and if the father was mentioned, was equivalent to other influences. Sadly, very little parent-child studies investigated the father's role, and when studies reported on the father's involvement it was as reported by the mother. In more than 2,000 parents who responded to questions about parenting in studies, not one father was interviewed.  There was a general conception that men were not interested in fatherhood!

According to Oliker, the pendulum slowly began to swing back in the 1970s, when new studies started to support the impact of fathers. “That change influenced me as a graduate student at the time to risk doing my Ph.D. thesis on father-son interactions and how those interactions may actually be an important influencing factor in an adolescent son's development. Fortunately for me, my study did find positive results of a father's influence on the moral reasoning of an adolescent son, allowing me to graduate on time”, she wrote in her blog.

Today the father is regarded as a very important person in the developmental phases of children and the impact a father has on a child will have lasting results. From a report in "Fathers and Their Impact on Children's Well-Being":

Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.

It is so important that fathers also understand this role and know that even the way that fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Oliker claims that fathers spend a higher percentage of their one-to-one interactions with infants and pre-schoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behaviour.

Children with involved, caring fathers also have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father's involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.  Unfortunately, no baby is issued with a script on how to raise this particular child and fathers (parents) make mistakes. We learn as they grow!

What makes a good father, then?  For one, he needs to realise that children are sent to our lives to make adults of grown-ups! Because nothing will make you more responsible, more aware of a secure future and quality living than when you hold that little child for the first time.  And nothing matters more than the well-being of the child.

So, what makes a father?

Faithful and forgiving.  If you drop something or come home late, your father will understand and have your back.  He will also take your side in any situation (until you get home!).  Fathers believe the best of all their children and will be there to support you at your first netball game, give advice when you want to ask a girl out or when you learn how to ride a bicycle.

Accountable and admirable.  Fathers are heroes – so many little girls want to marry men like their fathers and boys want to grow big and strong like their dads!  The man in the house is admired by his wife and children because of the way he treats people, his example and the way he remains accountable for actions.

Teacher and trustworthy. Fathers teach their children about life, about nature, about being human.  By taking the little one along when you chop wood, go shopping, fishing or camping, you teach them about survival, negotiation, treating other people fairly and about spending time in nature.  By showing up at the game when you promised to, by catching the child when he is jumping into a pool or by fixing a broken toy, you express that you are trustworthy.

Helper and honest.  Children often believe “dad can fix this” and you should be the helper, the one to try and make things right.  Sometimes it will be something you need to fix physically but often by listening and giving advice you are also fixing.  Fathers should be honest – children are more sensitive to lies than we give them credit for and therefore we should also trust our children and confide in them with honesty when possible.

Encouragement.  Fathers are the ones running up and down on the side of the field, urging the child on to do more, go faster.  He is the one telling you that a future and good career is important, but he is also there to dry the tears when things are not looking great.  Then he will encourage you to believe in the future and new opportunities!

Respected and role model. Children want to respect their fathers.  And remember that your child also does not have a checklist of what you are supposed to do and be – as long as the relationship between father and child is based on mutual respect, understanding and accommodating the generation gap a child will grow up with the concept that the father is the role model to which he will aspire, the man she is proud to call dad!

Do not try to be the perfect father.  Maybe just look at priorities again and see what in your schedule can be cancelled so you can make that all important first match, ballet concert or just an afternoon playing in the garden.  Small things we do with our children, make big impacts when they are adults!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, future dads, and grandfathers!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


By Caren Malherbe, Social Worker

Despite the sophisticated legal framework in South Africa there is still a clear majority of children who frequently experience some form of violence from a very early age. Unfortunately, South Africa lacks both national empirical data on the exact magnitude of the problem, and a limited research base on the causes and effects of violence against children in the local context. The limited evidence restricts an understanding of the problem, the effective design and targeting of services, as well as an ability to use evidence-based strategies for prevention.  This essay reviews the latest research to address the following critical questions: • How is violence against children best defined? • What is known about the extent of violence against children in South Africa? • What are the patterns of violence against children across the life course? • What are the immediate and long-term effects of violence against children? • What are the risk and protective factors? • What are the recommendations?

It is not possible to write about violence against children without reflecting on South Africa’s high levels of violence and crime. The underlying causes of violence are complex. It is thought to be rooted in the colonial past and the legacy of apartheid that normalised and created widespread social acceptance of violence.3 Widespread poverty, inequality and high levels of unemployment combined with a weak culture of law enforcement, rapid urbanisation, inadequate housing and poor education outcomes all contribute to social dynamics that fuel violence.4   In addition, apartheid has had a profound effect on family life. The migrant labour system created an environment where large numbers of fathers were largely absent in the lives of their children.5 Racial oppression and the grossly unequal pow (Mathews & Benvenuti, 2014:26)

How is violence against children best defined? Violence against children is a multi-faceted and complex problem. This has resulted in multiple definitions which make it particularly challenging to monitor the incidence of violence, analyse trends and guide actions for prevention and response. The World Report on Violence and Health11 defines violence “as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, that results or is likely to result in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation”. The UNCRC recognises the complexities of violence pow (Mathews & Benvenuti, 2014:26)
The World Health Organisation extends this definition to include “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity”.13 The above definitions outline the core components of violence against children and highlight how violence extends beyond physical injuries to include emotional and psychological dimensions, and can occur across a range of settings and relationships. Violence against children can spread from the home to the community and vice versa. For the child this experience is multi-layered and interrelated. For example: a child witnesses his mother being abused by her partner. He is also exposed to harsh parenting, with corporal punishment used as a means of discipline. He seeks affirmation outside (Mathews & Benvenuti, 2014:26)
Violence against children has long-term consequences which can be avoided by investing in prevention initiatives.
With South Africa about to embark on the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children, the South African Child Gauge 2014is released today to contribute to this debate by providing evidence of successful violence prevention initiatives. Published by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the ninth issue of this annual review of the situation of South Africa’s children was produced in partnership with UNICEF, the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD) in The Presidency; World Vision South Africa; the FNB Fund; and UCT’s Safety and Violence Initiative.
Annually two huge awareness campaigns are launched to raise public awareness of child abuse and family violence.
Child Protection week was initiated to raise awareness about the care and protection of children
The World Health Organisation pronounces child maltreatment as a global problem with serious lifelong consequences. Their studies reveal that a quarter of all adults have been physically abused as children, 1 in 5 woman and 1 in 13 men have been sexually abused as children. Countless children are subjected to emotional abuse and neglect (World Health Centre: Child Maltreatment. Factsheet 2014:1-2).
Given the violence in the South African society, it is probable to believe that children growing up in violent households will return to violence when a situation is unbearable. Roufougar (2007:122) points out that a child will be more likely to commit murder if he grew up in violent surroundings.
The Institute for Security Studies highlighted the high incidence of violent crime in their comments on the 2013/2014 Crime statistics. They also expressed concern about the normalisation of violence in homes, neighbourhoods and schools. They emphasised the fact that most murders take place between people who know each other (ISS Crime Hub: Factsheet 2014:7). 
1. Violence in South Africa:
South Africa is an exceptionally violent society and the incidence of crime and violence are well above world average. It is difficult to establish accurate figures reflecting the incidence of domestic violence due to the fact that there is no reliable statistics available. It is estimated that 60% of marital relationships involve abuse. The number of murders within a family which stem out of the abusive relationships is not known.
Consequently it is inevitable that many children grow up exposed to high levels of violence and abuse in their homes (Robertson & Donaldson.1997:1). The traditional view that the home is a safe haven and sanctuary is untrue given the statistics in South Africa, it is probably the place where children are most at risk for violence and abuse.
Robertson & Donaldson (1997:1) reiterate that numerous children in South African homes are exposed to high levels of violence in their homes.  They confirm that these children will be at risk of committing violent crimes. This childhood trauma will impacted on the child in later life and have a higher risk to be a perpetrator. In these circumstances children learn that violence is an acceptable way of solving problems (Robertson & Donaldson. 1997:5).
Gould (2014:1) mentioned that 827 children were murdered in South Africa during 2012/2013; it is more than two children a day. During this period another 21,575 children, were assaulted, of which half of the assaults being severe. 
In the same year 2,266 women were murdered, and 141,130 women were victims of attempted murder, assault, grievous bodily harm and common assault. A vast percentage of women and children were victims of violence.
Underwood (2013:2) indicated that intrafamilial murders in Britain accounted for 50% of all homicides.
The consequences of violence in the family system where especially children are witnesses of violence in their communities and households have serious consequences on the health system and the ability to raise a next generation of safe and emotionally healthy children.
The National Youth Victimisation Study conducted by The Centre of Justice and Crime Prevention, Cape Town (2005) indicated that South African Youth experience significant violence in their homes, as victims as well as witnesses of violence. These violent disputes often involve the use of a weapon (Pelser.2008:5-6).
Domestic abuse in South Africa is often underestimated in South Africa and it can be argued that South Africa is a hostile environment for children (Idemudia & Makhubela.2011:3447).
It appears as if violence in families are a global occurrence; in a special report of the Department of Justice in the United States which were conducted during 1993 and 2010 it was estimated that 2.8 million children experienced violent crimes in their households  (Truman & Smith.2012:1).
Social acceptance or tolerance of various forms of violence, such as intimate partner violence and corporal punishment is a key factor in the continuation of violence   (Mathews. 2014:54).
Mouzos & Rushforth (2003:1) echoed the view that the family environment can be deadly. In Australia two out of five homicides occur between family members.
These high levels of violence in households in South Africa can affect children and lead to situations in their home environment where they are not able to deal with their emotions and stress levels.
Families are very often idealised and statistics on family violence are underestimated. Ewing (1997) describe the family as undeniably the most violent social group and the home the most violent social setting.

Violence in the family has significant consequences for children and their actions later on in life.
Traumatic stress caused by child neglect and/or abuse compromises homeostasis and leads to an assemblage of long term biological changes involving the nervous and endocrine systems. These changes can affect physiological, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning. These deviations can comprise the ability to regulate, affect, relate to other people, and develop empathy. When confronted with stressful situations (Heide & Solomon.2006:222).  

Family interactions comprise the single greatest determinant of an individual’s level of violence outside the home. Children who are abused, or who witness violence, are far more likely to engage in violence themselves, both as children and when they are adults.
Children living in unbearable circumstances are aware that violence can take place at any given moment. Their home and family cease to be a safe place when interparental violence strikes (Goldblatt. 2003:539).

Violence and emotional assaults on children often attack the norms, trust and certainty of family relationships. There are no sense of family relationships and intimacy, instead the child experience emotional alienation, this alienation can increase with repeated occurrence of violence (Goldblatt. 2003:535).

 Explanation of violence in Families:

Mathews & Benvuti (2014:26) emphasise the high levels of violence and crime against children in South Africa. They reiterate that the underlying causes of violence are complex and illuminate South Africa’s colonial past and the legacy of apartheid that normalised and created widespread social acceptance of violence in the country.  They also accentuate widespread poverty, inequality and high levels of unemployment combined with a weak culture of law enforcement, rapid urbanisation, inadequate housing and poor education as outcomes contributing to social dynamics that fuel violence.
Violence against children is a multi-faceted and without a single explanation to explain why some children experience violence, but it can best be understood as the complex interaction of various factors. (Mathews & Benvuti: 2014:26).

Strain and pressure of daily life is part of every family; families resolve strain differently and often in inappropriate ways. The best parents and most loving couples display unfitting behaviour. They lose their tempers, say intentionally hurtful things to one another, raise their voices when arguing, and sometimes even lash out physically. In many cases aggression is seen as normal. This behaviour is common and culturally approved and seen as part of family life. (Chapter 1)

Families often experience stress because of various factors in their lives, such as work, their financial situation as well as relationships in the family. In violent families there are often chronic, long-lasting stress which influences the behaviour and attitudes of family members.

Burgess & Draper (1989:59) indicate that marital violence, unemployment, financial pressures, anxiety and alcohol abuse can be indicators for family violence.

According to Rae-Grant et al. (1999) risk factors for family violence include the easy availability of weapons, poverty, family conflict and violent adults who had been violent as children. Similarly, based on the available literature on family homicide.

Ewing (1997) recognised five causal factors related to interfamilial homicide: domestic violence, overwhelming social stress, mental illness, alcohol abuse and the availability of firearms.

De Benedictus, T., Jaffe, J., & Segal J (2015:1) emphasise that violence may also be more prevalent amongst families who are experiencing: stress and economic hardship, such as prolonged unemployment.

2.1 Family Structure:

Family structures changed dramatically over the last decades. Carlson, M & Corcoran, M.E (2001:779) raised concern about the consequences about the changes in family structures on children’s development and wellbeing. The change in marriage, divorce and fertility since the 1960’s led to a striking increase in the number of families headed by a single parent. They estimated that half of children born in the 1980s, will spend their lives in a single-parent family.
In South Africa family structures have changed and fragmented due to migrant labour and the impact of HIV/AIDS, This resulted in large numbers of children (39%) being raised in female-headed households or with no parents (23%). Exposure to gang violence, particularly in the Western Cape, where the illegal drug and alcohol economy has flourished and systematically increased the power of gangs has also impact greatly on family structures conflict (Mathews & Benvuti. 2014:32).
Domestic violence also has a significantly negative impact on children’s long-term mental health and can perpetuate the use of violence to resolve conflict (Mathews & Benvuti. 2014:32). 
Families are structured according to social believes and values. This can vary from family to family, social standing as well as different cultures. Within the South African context differentiation must be made between rural and urban families, as well as the social and financial standing of families.

Henslin (2013:2) emphasise the variations of family life among white, African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American families, the primary differences in families result from cultural differences and social class.

The decline of the traditional family and the changing classifications of families are evident in the significant increase in one-parent, childless, blended, gay and lesbian families. The percentage of U.S. children living with two parents has dropped from 85 percent in 1970 to 70 percent in 2010. Blended families, families that have members who were previously parts of other families, are also on the rise. Gay unions are becoming more public (Henslin.2013:2).

2.2 Cultural factors:

In a multi-faceted country such as South Africa, cultural norms vary significantly from
rural to urban areas as well as the various cultural groups in South Africa.

Cultural values are also recurrently mentioned as a cause of interpersonal violence among poor inner-city African Americans (Lee. 2011:321).

The background of violent crime are the same for black and white people. The treacherous structural deprivation experienced by the urban black population has resulted in temporary traditional revisions to these structural disorders which include the use of violence. Young men use violence as a means to achieve status and respect in their communities. This will decline when socio-economic conditions change (Lee.2011:322).

Cultures and specific structures in families can be important to preface violence. In most families there are frequently levels of authority amongst family members. The most common structure is the one where a father/husband is the authoritarian figure in the house. The spouse often must be subsidiary to their husbands and children’s needs. In some cultures women can often not differ from their husbands.

Little though is given to the long term or immediate effect of violence against children in the African culture, as well as the consequences thereof on the behaviour of children. There is a lack of understanding how an adult’s behaviour could impact on children, and how to deal with these children in a professional way.  Violent behaviour are tolerated in communities and this lead to a malicious circle of violence between adolescents (Idemudia & Makhubela.2011:3457). 
2.3 Family norms:

Wekinson (1995: 6) describes a culture of violence in a family setting where the child has observed violent behaviour as a common occurrence in their family relationships. Frequently their family backgrounds were characterised by a lack of parental love and involved harsh discipline. Research evidence from the United States of America has suggested that children who killed were likely to have had family backgrounds which were characterised by a lack of parental love, involved harsh discipline and which provided inadequate emotional and economic security and stability for the child.

Corporal punishment is widespread in South African homes as a method of punishment despite the fact that it is banned in public spheres. 58% of parents report smacking their children at some point and 33% report using a belt or object to punish their children. Frequent and harsh corporal punishment is emotionally damaging and associated with the development of aggressive behaviour in the long term. Any form of beating teaches the wrong lessons about how to resolve differences, which is not desirable in an already violent society (Mathews & Benvenuti.2014:28).

2.4 Social tolerance of violence and acceptance of violence:

South Africa’s violent past has resulted in a widespread tolerance of violence which enables perpetrators to act with liberty. This is compounded by high levels of poverty, unemployment and income inequality, as well as  patriarchal notions of masculinity that support the use of violence and risk-taking – all which contribute to the extraordinary high levels of violence in South Africa (Mastoera & Mathews 2014: 80).

Craig A. Anderson, C.A, Berkowitz,L, Donnerstein,L, Huesmann,L.R. Johnson,J.D,
Linz, D, Malamuth, N.M., Wartella, E (2003:105) confirms the existing research that divulges the exposure to violent media plays an important underlying role in violence in modern society. Although it is estimated that the effect of media violence are insignificant to modest people should not be misled to think that the overall impact
media violence on aggressive and violent behaviour is trivial. Youth are exposed to many hours of media violence; even a small effect can have extremely large consequences.
A strong predictor of domestic violence in adulthood is domestic violence in the household in which a person was raised. A child’s exposure to their father’s abuse of their mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting domestic violence from one generation to the next. This cycle of domestic violence is difficult to break because parents have presented violence as the norm. Individuals living with domestic violence in their households have learned that violence and ill-treatment are outlet for anger (De Benedictis et al.2015:1).
Family members often resorts to physical violence because they believe they can solve problems with violence, they can effectively exerted control and power over others and they can get away with their behaviour (De Benedictis et al.2015:1)
Violence between parents in the home, and violence against children by parents or siblings, are factors that contribute to the normalisation of violence. CSVR 2007:170
Many people have been exposed to violence in their domestic or community environments, have been victims of violence, or themselves have been involved in perpetrating acts of violence. The overall impact of this is that people feel overwhelmed by violence, and CSVR 2007:171

2.5 Individual factors contributing to violence:

Violence in families cannot only be explained through social factors, individual factors cannot be ruled out. Mental illness or disorders such as depression, desperation, provocation by the intimate partner, jealousy and anger may be an antecedent of family violence (De Benedictis, T., Jaffe, J., & Segal J. 2015:1).

Consistently violent families have experienced chronic and long-standing stress which influences the behaviour and attitudes of family members. Violence may also be more widespread amongst families who experience the additional stresses of poverty, unemployment and inadequate housing (Henslin, 1995; Hewitt, 1997).

Monday, 28 August 2017




You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all the world’s problems at one, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own”. Michelle Obama

August being a month for women places an emphasis on females and their capacity in the different roles that they play. Women can play the role of mother, wife, daughter, teacher, nanny, counsellor, comforter and many other roles that could be assigned to them in different occasions. Women are tasked with the challenging task of raising leaders of tomorrow.

This is not an easy task as the children of today are faced with many challenges like bullying, peer pressure, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy etc. Women need support and knowledge of the challenges the children face in their lives, to be able to assist them as they come across them.

A woman plays an important role in laying the required foundation for a child to grow and realize the dream to become a leader. It is important for women to understand the developmental stages of children, their emotional needs and to be there for them when they need you.

A child who is caught between the separation of their biological parents will need additional assistance to get through the experience. The attachment in their environment is compromised and this child feels alone and a need to choose sides.  The child might even feel responsible for the negative occurrences within the family. The child will need a social worker to understand, support, and assist her through intervention to get through the process. This child might wish to be a doctor one day to help people, yet finding herself/himself in a situation which hampers the potential to become a doctor. As a woman and a social worker it is my duty to conduct a socio – emotional evaluation to find out about the child’s emotional well – being and give the parents feedback and refer the child for therapy so that the negative experiences could be dealt with and the child can adapt to their new life and transcend to chasing their dream of finding their place in the world and accomplishing their dream.

A woman is described as strength of life, the rock of family, the gentle heart to her children, the tears to her parents, the joy to her soul mate, the inspiration at her work, support to and love of her friends, the mystique in society, the leader of love and life but she remains human. She cannot raise a child in isolation. She has a need for assistance. A man has an exceptional role to play in accordance with women in raising a child to reach their potential in being a leader future leader. It is important that they communicate accordingly and give messages of affirmation to assist the child in reaching their potential.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The necessity of security and stability in family life

Written by: Yolandi Singleton (Supervisor – Assessments and Therapy Unit)

June 2017


Every house or building has a foundation. The foundation anchors the home to the ground and carries the weight of the home. If the foundation is not solid, the home is at risk. Therefore it is essential to ensure that the foundation, which is the starting point of the house, is trustworthy so that the house can be stable. I would like to link the foundation and home scenario with that of family life.

Yes, we are all very different from one another and yes, we all have different qualities and needs that makes us unique. What I definitely know is that everyone has three things in common and that is that we all have thoughts, feelings and choices. Except for choosing our families. They are in our lives for a reason. To shape us and sometimes confront us with things we never even thought of.

Some people are fortunate to have loving and supporting family members even though that family will also go through trials and tribulations. They are able to stand up, support each other and move forward. Unfortunately there are also people whose families regularly lets them down, causing those people to never experience a sense of belonging. In other words, not having a solid foundation to take on the challenging life out there.

When we conduct assessments with the children it is really noticeable that children project a strong need for healthy and positive family functioning. During the assessments we show them pictures that revolves around family happenings and provide them with the opportunity to respond and share their stories, as it happens in their lives. Children can only share what they have been exposed to. We are sometimes saddened to see children not having an idea what to say about their families as there is no proper interaction. Or they share information that indicates a lack of care and support within the families they grow up. These children suffer the emotionally and struggle to find their place in their family and in the world. They do not know who they can trust and where they belong due to the animosity between their family members. Their houses collapse, figuratively speaking due to an unstable foundation. This causes children to struggle to concentrate at school, some even practice inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour. This happens on an unconscious level and they are actually communicating to the world that they are not okay.

Mia Kellmer Pringle (2006) talks about the emotional needs of children in her books. One of the emotional needs she points out is the need for children to experience security. She explains it by mentioning that children experience security when their parents are happily married or in a loving and stable relationship. It gives them a sense of normality and builds their foundation to have a positive outlook on life. It build positive perceptions on intimate relationships as well as relationships with other people.

Unfortunately as we all know, some marriages and relationships do not work out. The best thing to be done then is to put a plan together (through a mediation process and parenting agreement – as now offered by Child Welfare Tshwane) that suits all parties and creates minimum disruption for the children. We have to face that when parents’ relationships don’t work out, the ideal dream for their children has come to an end. Therefore it is important to put effort in to make the process as less traumatising for the children.

The role of the father in a house is to bring strength and provide direction to the family and lead by example. Their presence is much more important than we realise. Children need them. They have to teach their boy children to take charge and respect other people and show their daughters how they deserve to be treated by men or any individual they come across.

In this time with Father’s day at the front of our door step, we honour the fathers that support and act as the pillar of their families. We thank them for leading the way and show their families how much they care.

We also think about those families who mourn the loss of a beloved. We witness the impact it has on children when we do bereavement therapy groups with them. Let us remember that families can make or break us. If we can encourage one another to play a positive role in their families where the members of the family can feel safe and experience stability, I am sure that the foundation of that “house” (family) is strong enough to take on the world and its challenges out there.

Hope all fathers had a happy Father’s Day!!


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Mother and child bond

Verwante prent

The mother-child bond – care and nurture
Compiled by Yolandi Singleton: Supervisor – Assessments and Therapy Unit
May 2017


During this month (May), we celebrated and saluted the mothers of South Africa who manage to find their way to be a mother, despite the realities of poverty, unemployment, traffic, work stress, challenging intimate relationships and the rush to run a household, amongst many other “monsters” in their lives.

We see how difficult it is for mothers today to give their full attention to providing care and to nurture their children. These difficulties often include their inability to bond with their children. Mothers find it difficult to bond, often due to their own mothers being emotionally and physically unavailable to them during their childhood.

In South Africa we see how communities suffer due to the absence of strong male figures in families and the mothers then need to play both roles, leaving them distressed to fulfil the needs of their children.

In order to comprehend a child’s natural need to be cared and nurtured for by his mother, it is important to understand the biology behind it. When a mother is, pregnant there is, a mucous tissue called Wharton’s jelly within the umbilical cord that has a protective function for the foetus. Additionally, inside the womb there is a liquid called the amniotic sac that also has the function to protect the foetus. In other words, a child default need to be protected, cared for and nurtured develops due to the nature of the mother’s body providing them with that need even before birth.  After birth, it is essential that a mother shows affection to her baby, by holding the baby 15cm away from her face. Remember, a baby’s sight is limited. When a mother regularly touches her baby it creates a warm and secure relationship, setting the necessary foundation for the baby to grow as a confident young child and adult.

Now you may ask, how do I care and nurture my child? The answer is easy and yet quite challenging, but remains a conscious choice. Every child has the need to feel loved which means that a parent should spend time with them on their developmental level. By doing that, they will feel cared for. They also have the need to feel acknowledged by complimenting them and acknowledging attempts made by them. Show them you believe in them and get rid of the criticism. Show interest in the things they are interested in by being in line with the latest trends. Just imagine that you come home, telling your 13 year old child about a cool new app that might interest them. Really listen to them when they tell you something that is important to them. If you do not listen, they will lose interest in telling you things when they grow older. If they feel sad about something, just sit with them and resist the temptation to always be ready with advice. Maybe they just need your presence and time, so put that cell phone and tablet away. Set realistic boundaries for them. They will not understand the essence of it now, but when they grow older they will. Remember, we are not raising children, but future adults.

We have seen mothers through our Mama Zama programme engaging with their children through play and touch, leaving the child feel cared and nurtured for. Child Welfare Tshwane’s Family Preservation Programme aims to restore the bond between mothers and small children in order to build stronger adults and communities in the future.

Let us keep on investing time in our children’s lives by caring for them so that one day when they also become parents, they will be empowered to instil the same principles onto their own children. The foundation is in fact the most important segment in a child’s life. If we can achieve that, I believe that South Africa can become a country where there is peace and harmony.