Carletonville crèche incident: Are we doing enough to protect our children?
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Carletonville crèche incident: Are we doing enough to protect our children?

Terence Pillay is livid after watching a video in which a teacher beats up a toddler for throwing up in class and asks if we are doing enough to protect our children from this kind of scourge

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A video of a teacher at a crèche in Carletonville repeatedly slapping a young child on her head has sparked outrage in the country. Many South Africans are now calling for the crèche to be shut down. 

In the video, the woman is also seen hitting her on the buttocks. According to reports, the child had vomited and the teacher made her wipe up the mess and assaulted her because she had done this. Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he battled to finish watching the video of the young child being beaten by her teacher.

I think most of the country would have battled to watch the video. Last year, I investigated the story of the young Phoenix mother who beat up her child while her boyfriend had recorded the incident on his cell phone. In an exclusive interview at the time, the mother told me that her boyfriend was upset because the child had peed her pants. Like this case, the child in the Carletonville video had simply done what children do – she threw up. Did this act warrant such a violent reaction from the teacher?

As far as I am concerned, the woman in the video is not fit to be a teacher or caregiver or whatever she claimed to be. What is seen in the video is not corporal punishment, which by the way is illegal, but a violent act of child abuse. This person shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children, never mind out on bail, which I believe she made.

Parents claimed they didn’t know what was happening at the crèche. As a parent, when you sign a contract to leave your child at a facility like this, there is a legal expectation that your child would be protected by that institution for the time the child is in their custody. There is also the expectation that your child would not be violently beaten for any reason. And while it would be ideal for parents to thoroughly vet the organization before you leave your child there, this doesn’t always happen. And incidents like these take place.

According to reports, the video was recorded by another caregiver who had an issue with the principal for firing her and she wanted to use the video to let people know what was going on under the principal’s nose. The police are now searching for this caregiver to find out the extent and frequency of abuse at the crèche.

The fact is that many parents don’t have the luxury or resources to place their children in these expensive care centres and use the local ones in their communities. But are they aware of exactly what goes on at these care centers? Do they make sure that the staff at these centers does not have criminal records or violent behavioural issues? Do they make sure that everyone working in that establishment is not on the sex offenders register? These are the foremost things that need to be looked at before leaving your child in any kind of care facility. And this includes restaurants that have play areas for children.

For me, there need to be uniform standards in place for all institutions like these across the country - and everyone needs to conform to this standard. There needs to be certificates of compliance issued by the relevant authorities that govern these institutions so parents can leave their children at these establishments without the fear of their children being beaten up in this manner. And to expect that their children will be treated with respect and dignity.

There are organizations in some communities that are not known for providing a child with the best nutritional value or the best education for that matter, but parents have no other choice but to use these facilities. What they should expect though, is that their children would be protected from being beaten within an inch of their lives. And what’s more is that the child isn’t beaten by the very person that is meant to provide the care. It’s too late for ministers, politicians and celebrities to jump up and down now after the fact. We know what goes on in a lot of these places. Why don’t we do a preemptive strike and stop it before it gets to this?

I understand that this woman got bail to the tune of R3000. She should actually not have gotten bail at all. She should go to jail and spend her time with other criminals because that is exactly what she is – a criminal. And she should not be allowed near a child again. I don’t know if she has children of her own, but there needs to be some kind of social welfare intervention to investigate whether she treats her own children in this manner.

The takeaway from this, I would hope, is that parents are awoken to the fact that evil things happen behind closed doors and the most vulnerable of our society fall victim to these ills. There have been numerous stories of elder abuse at old age homes, child neglect and abuse at orphanages and children’s homes. Television news programmes have broadcast video footage of what happens at some of these institutions. So why do they continue to take place?  

During this time of electioneering, political parties are offering the world in exchange for your vote. They all say they want to end corruption, they want to provide better for South Africans. Well, put your money where your mouth is. Make sure that incidents like these don’t continue to happen. Prioritise these issues. And protect our children. It’s no use holding candles in a vigil when something tragic happens. We know what the problems are. Fix it - and do it now!

Also read: Michael Jackson – Music genius vs alleged monster molester?

You can email Terence Pillay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @terencepillay1 and tweet him your thoughts.

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