16 Days of Activism: Childline works on strengthening families

16 Days of Activism: Childline works on strengthening families

South Africa's biggest hotline for child abuse started in Gauteng with a few volunteers and a Telkom toll-free line and resource manual in 1987.

Childline logo

It aims to not only support children and their families, but to guide them through the justice system.


Childline Director in Gauteng, Lynne Cawood, says they work for those who are the most vulnerable - children.


"We try and create a society that mirrors our wonderful constitution and allows every child to have a happy childhood," says Cawood.

Childline has several projects:


- developing appropriate social services including a 24-hour toll-free helpline and supportive therapeutic social services for children who have been victims of violence, and their families;

- education and awareness raising programmes facilitating the prevention of violence against children;

- networking to establish strategic alliances with the aim of advocating for policy changes that will facilitate good management practices for abused children;

- research into violence against children within the South African context; and

- ongoing training and development of staff members and volunteers. Childline South Africa is an affiliation of regional Childlines. Each Province in South Africa with the exception of the Northern Cape, has a regional Childline office to which the toll free line for children is directed. The National Childline Office has a coordinating and development function.

Good parenting_childline
Photo: Facebook, Childline

Cawood says children from broken homes are the most vulnerable and it is important that families and communities work together to look after children.


"I think it's a misnomer that we are focussing on women and children, because I think that men are exposed to probably even more violent behaviour than women are, but because women and children are more vulnerable, it really is important that they have a position in society where they are honoured and respected for the role that they play in keeping families together," says Cawood.

The South African Constitution (Section 28) stipulates the rights of children as follows:


- You should be given a name when you are born and you should be looked after and become part of a family.

- You should not have to work whilst you are small as this could make you tired and sick (this includes being made to beg on the side of the road).

- Even if you have done something very bad and the police need to arrest you, you should not be put in jail. If you are put in a jail, it should be for a very short while and it should not be with people older than 18.

- You must have shelter (somewhere dry and comfortable to sleep).

- If you are sick, you must be able to see a doctor and get medicine that will make you better.

- You must have food to eat so that you aren't hungry.

Child rights_childline
Photo: Facebook, Childline

There are other rights that are for everybody (adults and children).


- You are equal to everyone else. This means that you must be treated the same as someone who is white, black, man, woman, short or tall.

- You have the right to live. 

- You have the right to freedom and security. 

- Slavery and forced labour is not allowed. Nobody can make you work when you are young.

- You have the right to privacy, which means if you want to be left alone, you have the right to do this.

- You have the right to think what you want, to say what you want and nobody can deny you this right. But remember that this does not mean that you can say horrible things about other people as that would not be nice.

- Everyone has the right to good and comfortable housing. Nobody can come to your house and throw you out unless the court has said they can do this.

- Everyone has the right to all basic health. This means that if you are ill, you have the right to see a doctor and get medicine. All people should also be able to get food and water to keep them healthy.


Cawood has this message for children who need help...

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