The intake procedures of child sexual abuse cases at Mafikeng Service Point of the Department of Health and Social Development
Motshedi, Tshepiso Sinah
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Due to the legal obligation to report actual or suspected cases of child sexual abuse and neglect, parents, concerned community members and friends, as well as various professionals like teachers, doctors and psychologists, refer children on a daily basis to social workers in order to initiate an investigation of the allegations. The intake interview is therefore a critical step in the process of child protection and care. In the context of this study, intake interview refers to the initial contact between the social worker and the child in the case of child sexual abuse, where a social worker seeks to establish all objective facts relating to the case so as to make informed decisions and to act accordingly. The Mafikeng Service Point of the Department of Health and Social Development has no standard procedures for social workers in cases of child sexual abuse. It is against this background that a North West based study on the child sexual abuse intake procedures was conducted at Mafikeng Service Point. The study was descriptive and quantitative in nature, with the aim of making a theoretical as well as an empirical study of the intake procedures at the time of the investigation. Data was collected by means of a self–administered questionnaire on the current intake procedures of 30 social workers. Data was triangulated by analysing 15 case files of reported child sexual abuse. It was found that the majority of social workers of the Mafikeng Service Point lack sufficient knowledge and skills regarding interviewing child sexual abuse cases and the legal requirements involved. As a result, they follow diverse and largely inefficient intake interview procedures. The 15 case files that were analysed revealed that social workers do not perform follow–up sessions after the intake and that case files are therefore not officially closed. Recommendations are made to the Mafikeng Service Point with regard to the intake procedures of child sexual abuse cases.
- Health Sciences