It is important to note that any person who works with children, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, teachers or therapists have a mandatory obligation to report suspected physical abuse. Neighbours and friends whom suspect a child is suffering physical abuse are not required by law to report it, but should of course do so.
However, anybody who suspects a child is being sexually abused has a mandatory obligation to report it.
Suspected child abuse can be reported to the South African Police Services, Child Welfare Services or the Department of Social Development. You can approach your local police station or social worker to report a case of suspected abuse.
Suspected child abuse can also be reported to Childline South Africa or the Child Emergency Line. Childline South Africa is non-profit organisation that assists children suffering physical and sexual abuse. You can contact them for free at 0800 055 555 to report suspected child abuse. The Child Emergency Line can be contacted for free at 0800 123 321 to report suspected child abuse.
You need to provide the child’s name, their parents or guardians name, telephone number and address. Furthermore, you need to state the reasons warranting your concern and provide any information, documentation or photos in your possession indicating abuse. However, please not it is not your duty to conduct an investigation. This should be left to experienced professionals.
An investigation will be launched by the Child Welfare Society, the Department of Social Development or the Child Protection Officer of the South African Police Services. An interview will be conducted with the child, the alleged abuser and family members. Thereafter a decision will be taken regarding the child’s safety.