Contributing factors to inappropriate sexual behaviours in children under the age of fourteen: Views of social workers

Oberholzer, Simone Laurette (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: sexual behaviour (ISB) of children is a global pandemic which has only recently come under the spotlight. Unfortunately, statistics for ISB of children are poorly documented – not only in South Africa, but worldwide. Although ISB is the result of many contributing factors, it is most often related to issues, such as a lack of supervision, being placed in alternative care, being exposed to trauma and abuse, being exposed to child sexual abuse materials, and a lack of policy and legislation to guide intervention services. However, literature on the factors contributing to children under the age of fourteen who display ISB is scant and there are no studies that found or identified contributing factors to such behaviour within a South African context. Moreover, no priority or urgency is given to the phenomenon of ISB in children in policies or legislation in South Africa, as is clear from the lack of reference to ISB in existing policies and legislation. To identify possible contributing factors to ISB, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological perspective was used as the theoretical point of departure. The research question for the study was: What are the views of social workers on the contributing factors to the display of inappropriate sexual behaviours in children under the age of fourteen? The goal of the research study, namely to develop an understanding of the view of social workers about the contributing factors to children under the age of fourteen displaying ISB, was achieved. This made it possible to formulate appropriate recommendations in line with social services as well as current policies and pieces of legislation relating to service rendering to children under the age of fourteen who display ISB. The literature study aims to describe the existing policy and legislation that guide service rendering to children displaying ISB within international and South African contexts. The study furthermore discusses existing literature from an ecological perspective on factors contributing to ISB in children under the age of fourteen. For the empirical investigation, a qualitative research methodology was used to involve social workers rendering services to children under the age of fourteen who display ISB. The study was based on both the explorative and the descriptive research design. For the aim of this study, the researcher used snowball sampling. Eighteen social workers who met the inclusion criteria of the research study were chosen according to their willingness to participate. A semi-structured interview schedule was used for data collection during the empirical investigation and a pilot study was conducted with two participants to test the measuring instrument. The study found that social workers should be educated about the factors contributing to ISB in children under the age of fourteen to be able to effectively identify, assess, intervene and prevent ISB in children. It was furthermore found that educators should also be knowledgeable about ISB. The study highlighted that social workers find it difficult to apply existing policy and legislation into direct service rendering firstly because they must adapt policy and legislation and secondly because they are unsure how to apply such policy and legislation to children displaying ISB. To rectify this, it is suggested that a protocol be developed for the South African context enabling professionals to act in a uniform way when rendering services to this target group. Staff and caregivers in child and youth care centres (CYCC) should be educated about the potential factors contributing to the display of ISB, as this study identified a lack of supervision in children’s homes as one of the contributing factors to ISB in children. It was also found that social workers predominantly render statutory services instead of prevention services as indicated in the ISDM of 2006. With the majority of social services rendered on the statutory level, there is a need for social workers to focus on reintegration services in order to fulfil the directives in policy documents of keeping the child within the family. Finally the study found that, to prevent ISB, services and education programmes should be delivered to communities and families about factors contributing to ISB and how to report cases of ISB.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ontoepaslike seksuele gedrag (OSG) onder kinders is ’n wêreldwye pandemie wat eers onlangs onder die soeklig geplaas is. Ongelukkig is daar min statistieke beskikbaar oor OSG onder kinders – nie net in Suid-Afrika nie, maar ook internasionaal. Alhoewel OSG die gevolg is van ’n verskeidenheid bydraende faktore, hou dit meestal verband met kwessies soos ’n tekort aan toesig, die plasing van ’n kind in alternatiewe sorg, blootstelling aan trauma, mishandeling, of seksuele kindermishandeling-materiaal, en ’n tekort aan beleid en wetgewing wat as riglyne in die lewering van intervensiedienste aangewend kan word. Literatuur oor die faktore wat tot OSG onder kinders jonger as veertien lei is skaars. So ook is geen bestaande studies oor faktore wat aanleiding gee tot OSG onder kinders jongers as veertien, binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks gevind of geïdentifiseer nie. Boonop word geen prioriteit of dringende aandag aan Suid-Afrikaanse beleide of wetgewing geskenk oor die verskynsel van OSG onder kinders nie, soos die tekort aan verwysings na OSG in bestaande beleid en wetgewing aandui. Om enige moontlike bydraende faktore tot OSG te identifiseer is Bronfenbrenner se ekologiese perspektief as teoretiese vertrekpunt gebruik. Die navorsingsvraag vir die studie was: Wat is die siening van maatskaplike werkers ten opsigte van die faktore wat tot OSG onder kinders jonger as veertien bydra? Die doel van die navorsingstudie, naamlik om die siening van maatskaplike werkers ten opsigte van die bydraende faktore tot OSG onder kinders jonger as veertien te verstaan, is bereik. Dus was dit moontlik om toepaslike aanbevelings te maak met betrekking tot dienslewering asook bestaande beleid en wetgewing wat verband hou met maatskaplike dienslewering aan kinders jonger as veertien wat OSG toon. Die literatuurstudie poog om die bestaande beleid- en wetgewingriglyne vir dienslewering aan kinders wat OSG toon, binne internasionale en Suid-Afrikaanse konteks te bespreek. Voorts word bestaande literatuur ten opsigte van faktore wat tot OSG onder kinders jonger as veertien bydra, vanuit ’n ekologiese benadering bespreek. die empiriese ondersoek is ’n kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodologie gebruik om maatskaplike werkers wat diens lewer aan kinders jonger as veertien wat OSG toon, te betrek. Die studie is op beide ’n eksploratiewe en beskrywende navorsingsontwerp gegrond. Vir die doel van die studie het die navorser die sneeubalsteekproefmetode toegepas. Agtien maatskaplike werkers wat aan die insluitingskriteria van die navorsingstudie voldoen het en wat bereid was om aan die studie deel te neem, is gekies. ’n Semi-gestruktureerde onderdhoudskedule is gebruik om data met die empiriese ondersoek in te samel en ’n loodstudie is gedoen met twee deelnemers om die meetinstrument te toets. Die studie het bevind dat maatskaplike werkers meer opleiding moet ontvang en opvoeders meer kennis moet opdoen oor die faktore wat tot OSG onder kinders jonger as veertien lei, ten einde OSG suksesvol te identifiseer, assesseer, in te gryp, en te voorkom. Die studie het aangedui dat maatskaplike werkers dit moeilik vind om bestaande beleid en wetgewing met direkte dienslewering toe te pas, eerstens omdat hulle die beleid en wetgewing moet aanpas en tweedens omdat hulle onseker is oor hoe om die beleid en wetgewing op kinders wat OSG toon, toe te pas. Ten einde die situasie reg te stel, word aanbeveel dat ’n protokol vir die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks ontwikkel word wat professionele maatskaplike werkers in staat sal stel om eenvormig op te tree wanneer hulle dienste aan die teikengroep lewer. Aangesien ’n tekort aan toesig in kinderhuise as een van die bydraende faktore tot OSG onder kinders in die studie geïdentifiseer is, word aanbeveel dat personeel en versorgers in kinder- en jeugsorgsentrums opleiding ontvang oor die moontlike faktore wat tot OSG onder kinders lei. Daar is ook bevind dat maatskaplike werkers oorwegend statutere dienste lewer, eerder as voorkomende dienste soos die Geintegreerde Diensleweringsmodel (GDLM) van 2006 aanbeveel. Aangesien die meeste maatskaplike werkers statutere diens lewer is dit dus nodig dat hulle op herintegrasiedienste fokus ten einde gehoor te gee aan die beleidsdokumente wat bepaal dat die kind binne die gesin gehou moet word. Laastens is bevind dat diens- en opleidingsprogramme aan gemeenskappe en gesinne gelewer moet word oor bydraende faktore vir OSG onder kinders jongers as veertien, asook hoe om gevalle van OSG aan te meld, ten einde OSG onder kinders te voorkom.

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