By Lerato Khateane

  • The Free State Department of Social Development (DSD) concluded Child Protection Week with visits at Matla Primary and Kamohelo Primary Schools, emphasising children’s mental health and the importance of recognising abuse and bullying.
  • The sessions educated students, teachers, and parents on recognising and addressing signs of abuse, bullying, and mental disorders, fostering a supportive environment for children’s well-being.
  • The sessions underscored the impact of trauma, poverty, and domestic issues on children’s mental health, highlighting the need for vigilant monitoring and supportive interventions from parents and educators.

The Free State Department of Social Development (DSD), through the Mangaung Metro District Office, held the final two sessions of Child Protection Week at Matla Primary and Kamohelo Primary Schools. The themes were “Children’s Mental Disorders” and “Every Conversation Matters,” focusing on signs of abuse and bullying in children.

The sessions brought together stakeholders from the Free State Psychiatric Complex (FSPC), the Department of Education, NGOs, and the South African Police Service (SAPS). Attended by teachers, Grade 7 students, and parents, the events focused on mental well-being, mental ill-health, disabilities, and bullying.

Ms Nolulamo Ndzo, Social Work Supervisor at the Mangaung district DSD, briefly explained the history and theme of Child Protection Week at Matla Primary. Mr Itumeleng Lecheko discussed mental well-being and mental disorders, emphasising symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disruptive disorders like conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

At Kamohelo Primary School, area social worker Ms Radebe warned parents about the influence of television and social media on children. She advised parents to monitor their children’s activities and screen time, stressing the importance of observing sudden changes in behaviour and discussing daily school activities to ensure children are focused during school hours.

The visits highlighted that children may show signs of mental ill-health, abuse, or bullying due to traumatic events, poverty, neglect, domestic violence, or substance abuse. Mental well-being, defined as thriving in various life areas despite challenges, includes self-acceptance, a sense of belonging, and optimism.

Mr Papi Ntshoetsa, a Mental Health Social Worker from the Free State Psychiatric Complex, explained the services of the Child-Guided Clinic and the effects of bullying. Sgt. Mofokeng, Adopt-A-Cop for Matla Primary School, emphasised the negative impact of bullying and negative peer affiliation. Education Social Worker Ms Tshiamo Masisi stressed the importance of good morals and urged students to seek help when hurt.

Ms Nteboheng Botsime outlined the Continuum of Child Care and Protection Services within the DSD. Crisis Social Worker Mr Michael Mahobe highlighted the importance of addressing children’s mental health needs, describing neglect as a form of medical neglect. He provided the Principal with Form 22 for reporting medical neglect cases.

Through these initiatives, the DSD and its partners aim to empower communities to protect and support their children, ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for their growth and development.


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