Teaching kids to speak up

Francois Beer, showed pupils how to use meditation to cope with trauma.

Hands are for help and not for hurt, was the theme for a child-safety awareness programme, held at a Wallacedene school last Friday.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, the Western Cape Department of Education along with non-profit organisations and Kraaifontein SAPS reached out to five Wallacedene primary schools in order to proper educate the youth.

Hundreds of Grades 5 to 7 pupils and their teachers listened to various speakers during the event held at the Enkululekweni Primary School.

Pretty Mabumbulu, a school field worker, said the event was about encouraging children to speak out about abuse.

“We can continue boarding up the fences and gates around our schools, but what happens when the child goes home, will they be safe?” she said.

Children in Wallacedene, Bloekombos and other poor communities were being exposed to gang and domestic violence and needed help dealing with the trauma, she said.

“This day is all about encouraging the children to speak out. If they are not comfortable speaking to their teachers about their challenges, weekly one-on-one sessions with social workers could be an alternative,” she said.

Kraaifontein SAPS Captain Gerhard Niemand said the police were concerned about children playing in the streets during the school holidays, especially those in gang areas.

Gasps could be heard from pupils when he said, “Every year, the police have to deal with young people who die in areas such as Wallacedene and Bloekombos. They are caught in crossfires.”

In most cases, the children were shot because instead of running away, they ran to see what was happening.

The police were there, he said, to help children and to listen to them, in confidence.

He told the story of a young girl who had come into his office crying before telling him she had been raped.

Francois Beer, from the International Association for Human Values and the Art of Living Foundation, showed the children some basic breathing and meditation exercises they could use to help them cope with trauma.

Pupils used song and role-play to show what abuse meant to them and how they believed it could be prevented.