The perceptions of Setswana parents regarding the disclosure of child sexual abuse
Chabeletsane, Seadimo Boitumelo
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The researcher is employed as a social worker by the Department of Social Development at Tlokwe Service Point. She was first designated to the child care and protection programme, and thereafter was transferred to restorative services. During her years in the child care and protection programme, she was able to observe that many Setswana children who were believed to have been sexually abused displayed difficulties in disclosing the sexual abuse. While interviewing these children, it became apparent that their parents and their culture may play a role in their decision to refrain from disclosing the sexual abuse. Literature has shown that the parent-child relationship plays a significant role in the disclosure of child sexual abuse. This relationship is able to make the child feel safe, rebuild trust, and feel secure enough to disclose. If the care-giver of the abused child lacks these qualities, the chances are very slight that the child will feel „safe‟ enough to disclose. This may in turn result in a number of negative consequences, which includes the investigation being withdrawn, the recantation of a disclosure from the child and - most importantly and most concerning - the continuation of the sexual abuse. There may be several reasons for parents not wanting to disclose the sexual abuse of their child, and thus the researcher wants to explore the role of Setswana parents in the disclosure of child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, no research is available regarding the parents‟ role in the disclosure or non-disclosure of child sexual abuse within this specific culture. Thus the aim of the research was to describe and explore the perceptions of Setswana parents regarding the disclosure of child sexual abuse: To find out from them what might be the contributing factors, or barriers which may restrict the disclosure of child sexual abuse. This information will aid social workers to empower Setswana parents with knowledge and insight on why they need to disclose child sexual abuse for forensic investigations, and how to prevent the recanting of that disclosure - thus ensuring the successful prosecution of the alleged perpetrator. The social worker will also be able to structure their interviews in such a way that they can recognize – and overcome - these barriers during their interviews with the alleged sexually abused children. Purposive sampling was conducted among social workers from the Department of Social Development (Tlokwe Service Point) and Setswana parents from two organizations (the other being SAVF). The results of this research have revealed that Setswana parents still do not have adequate information on what constitutes child sexual abuse. They seem to regard only rape as a form of sexual abuse, and they also do not seem to have knowledge of the fact that boy/girl children can get sexually abused as well. There were also a number of parents who felt that the manner in which female children dress may provoke the sexual abuse. However, none of the parents felt that culture should in any way hinder a child or their parents from reporting sexual abuse. The social workers believe that the Potchefstroom community needs to be made aware of the issues around child sexual abuse. They are of the opinion that more programmes should be implemented in the community, in churches, schools, social clubs and other relevant places. They also believe that parents should be made aware that it is part of their rights and responsibilities as parents, to report any abuse against their children – and, if they do not adhere to this obligation, that they may also be held liable.
- Humanities