Case management by social workers of sexually abused children in the Moses Kotane District Municipality

Letsholo, Boitumelo Joyce (2004-04)

On t.p.: Master of Arts (Welfare Programme Management)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study of case management of sexually abused children by social workers was conducted in the Moses Kotane District Municipality, because of the following reasons: firstly, there is an escalation of reported cases that are referred from various service organizations to the Department of Social Services; secondly the statutory policies alone cannot be the absolute protection for children against sexual abuse; thirdly, as communities seem to ignore their roles in protecting children against this problem. The social workers end up carrying the ultimate responsibility to protect children. An exploratory study was therefore undertaken to investigate how social workers in the Moses Kotane District Municipality intervene in these cases. It is crucial for professionals to have the necessary knowledge, skills and correct attitude when they intervene in child sexual abuse cases. The study explored the various dynamics that motivate this problem as well as the circumstances that can expose children to the risk of child sexual abuse. Motivation to abuse children in the Moses Kotane District Municipality emanated from the family circumstances, characteristics of the abusive father(s) as well as a lack of community child care resources The social workers need to have insight in various risk factors of this problem. These may include the circumstances surrounding the child, community factors, societal factors, family factors and the attributes of professionals dealing with child sexual abuse cases. The knowledge of the dynamics and risk factors assists social workers to assess whether the child has been abused and to do risk assessment as well as need assessment of the victims and their families. Such information can assist the social workers to make a safety plan of action regarding the child victims. It is therefore vital that the social workers identify the nature of case management style through which they render services to sexually abused children. Direct service delivery, which is preferred by most social workers in the agency, and indirect service delivery are the two types of case management styles that social workers can employ, depending on whether they work in a generic social work setting or private child welfare agency. Although social workers may have the expertise and skill to intervene effectively in child sexual abuse cases, their interventions may be affected by various challenges and result in ineffective service delivery to the victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. These challenges may include working conditions that are adverse, community trials of cases of child sexual abuse and unresponsive agency management. Other challenges may include resistance from clients, lack of supervision, lack of training in child sexual abuse work as well as the demanding nature of child sexual abuse work. Throughout the process of case management the social workers need to liaise and cooperate with the multi-professional team comprising of the police (CPU), medical personnel, the prosecutor(s), a psychologist as well as the family members. The team may vary from one agency to the other, however, the social worker, police and medical personnel need to be available at all the team meetings. None of these professionals is supposed to assess victims alone, because the assessment should be focused on the social, medical, psychological, legal, physical and material needs of sexually abused children. It is imperative that social workers are aware of how their attitudes, beliefs, emotions, perceptions and feelings affect the effectiveness of service delivery to these children. The professionals therefore need to be skilled to react responsively and professionally to the victims. Social skills are important for creating worthy client - worker relationships and to enhance accountability in role relationships between the clients and the professionals. By applying interactional skills, the social workers can create a child-friendly atmosphere during intervention, as the social worker can be able to listen empathetically and deal with feelings that surface during the interviews. By applying cognitive skills, the professionals can be in a position to "read" subtle emotions and feelings of the clients and assess the level of their cognitive functioning. The application of theory in practice is vital during intervention as decisions; judgement and interventions should be professional and not haphazard. The social worker thus needs to have knowledge of the perspectives, theories and models of social work. This study has provided such a framework to guide social workers in managing cases of child sexual abuse.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie oor hoe maatskaplike werkers gevallebestuur van seksueel gemolesteerde kinders doen, is in die Moses Kotane Munisipale Distrik onderneem om die volgende redes. Eerstens is daar 'n toename in die gerapporteerde gevalle van seksuele molestering wat deur verskeie diensorganisasies verwys word na die maatskaplike werkers in diens van Departement van Welsyn. Tweedens bied die statutêre beleid op sigself nie aan kinders algehele beskerming teen seksuele molestering nie. Derdens blyk dit dat van maatskaplike werkers verwag word om algehele verantwoordelikheid vir die beskerming van kinders te aanvaar omdat dit skyn asof gemeenskappe hulle rol om kinders teen seksuele molestering te beskerm, ignoreer. Derhalwe is 'n verkennende studie onderneem om vas te stel hoe maatskaplike werkers in die Moses Kotane Munisipale Distrik dienste lewer aan hierdie kinders. Dit is essensieel dat professionele persone oor die nodige kennis, vaardighede en regte houding sal beskik wanneer gevalle van seksuele molestering van kinders hanteer word. Met die studie is die faktore wat aanleiding gee tot seksuele molestering, sowel as die omstandighede wat kinders blootstel aan die risiko van seksuele molestering, ondersoek. Daar is vasgestel dat die motivering vir seksuele molestering van kinders in die Moses Kotane Munisipale Distrik gespruit het uit hulle gesinsomstandighede, kenmerke van die molesterende vader(s), sowel die gebrek aan bronne vir kinderbeskerming in die gemeenskap. Maatskaplike werkers behoort insig te hê in die faktore wat kinders 'n risiko van seksuele molestering kan maak. Hierdie faktore kan verband hou met die omstandighede van die kind, gemeenskapsfaktore, samelewingsfaktore, gesinsfaktore en die kenmerke van die professionele persone wat die gevalle van kinders wat seksueel molesteer is, hanteer. Kennis van die dinamika van seksuele molestering en die risiko faktore van seksuele molestering van kinders, sal maatskaplike werkers in staat stelom te assesseer of kinders gemolesteer is en om risiko-assesserings, sowel as behoeftebepalings van die slagoffers en hulle gesinne te doen. Sodanige inligting sal die maatskaplike werker help om 'n veiligheidsplan van aksie vir kinderslagoffers op te stel. Dit is derhalwe noodsaaklik dat maatskaplike werkers die aard van hulle gevallebestuur styl deur middel waarvan dienste aan seksueel gemolesteerde kinders gelewer word, sal kan identifiseer. Direkte dienslewering, wat deur die meeste maatskaplike werkers in die ondersoek groep verkies is en indirekte dienslewering is die twee soorte gevalle bestuurstyle wat maatskaplike werkers kan gebruik. Die keuse tussen die twee sal afhang van of maatskaplike werkers in 'n generiese of gespesialiseerde opset praktiseer. Alhoewel maatskaplike werkers oor die kundigheid en vaardigheid mag beskik om gevalle van seksuele molestering effektief te hanteer, mag hulle intervensies beïnvloed word deur verskeie struikelblokke wat kan veroorsaak dat oneffektiewe diens aan die slagoffers en oortreders van seksuele molestering van kinders gelewer kan word. Struikelblokke wat deur die respondente ervaar IS, is byvoorbeeld onproduktiewe werksomstandighede, gemeenskapsverhore van oortreders van seksuele molestering van kinders en onresponsiewe besture van organisasies. Ander struikelblokke kan die weerstand van kliënte, gebrek aan supervisie, gebrek aan opleiding in die hantering van seksuele molestering van kinders, sowel as die veeleisende aard van die hantering van kinders wat seksuele gemolesteer is, insluit. Tydens die proses van gevallebestuur behoort die maatskaplike werker deurlopend te skakel en saam te werk met 'n multi-professionele span, bestaande uit die polisie (KBE), mediese personeel, die staatsaanklaer, 'n sielkundige, sowel as die gesinslede van die gemolesteerde kind. Alhoewel die span van organisasie tot organisasie kan verskil, behoort die maatskaplike werker, polisie en die mediese personeel beskikbaar te wees vir alle spanvergaderings. Nie een van hierdie professionele persone is veronderstel om slagoffers alleen te assesseer nie, want die assessering behoort toe fokus op die sosiale, mediese, sielkundige, regs, fisiese en materiële behoeftes van seksueel gemolesteerde kinders. Dit is verder noodsaaklik dat maatskaplike werkers bewus sal wees van hoe hulle houdings, oortuigings, emosies, persepsies en gevoelens die effektiwiteit van hulle dienslewering aan hierdie kinders kan beïnvloed. Professionele persone behoort derhalwe oor die vaardigheid te beskik om met die nodige empatie en professionaliteit te reageer teenoor slagoffers. Met behulp van toepaslike professionele vaardighede kan die maatskaplike werker tydens intervensie 'n kindervriendelike omgewing tydens skep Dit sal die maatskaplike werker in staat stelom empaties te luister en gevoelens wat tydens onderhoude na vore kom te hanteer. Die toepassing van kognitiewe vaardighede sal die professionele persoon ontvanklik maak vir subtiele emosies en gevoelens van die kliënt en instaat stelom die vlak van hulle kognitiewe funksionering te assesseer. Die toepassing van teorie in die praktyk tydens intervensie is noodsaaklike omdat besluite en beoordelings tydens intervensie professioneel moet wees. Die maatskaplike werker benodig dus kennis van relevante perspektiewe, teorieë en modelle van maatskaplike werk wat vir die doel benut kan word. Die studie bied sodanige raamwerk aan wat as riglyne vir maatskaplike werkers kan dien en gebruik kan word om gevalle van seksuele molestering van kinders te bestuur.

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