Studied to make a difference

It has been three years of sacrifice, long nights and repetition, but she is determined to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of children.

Director of Safeline, Rochelle Philander, celebrated her graduation on Monday last week after successfully completing her master’s degree in Child and Family Services at the University of the Western Cape.

Having been a social worker for many years, and working with Safeline for the past 12 years, Philander is determined to implement her findings to make a difference­.

“I did not just do this so that it could remain on paper. I will make sure that this is implemented,” said Philander at the celebration.

Her thesis was conducted in the Western Cape, focusing on child on child violence. This marked the first time a study of this nature was conducted.

“The aim of this current study was to explore the management of learners with sexual behaviour problems (SBPs), within the primary school setting. The main question underpinning this study was: ‘how are children, aged five to nine, with sexual behaviour problems, managed by social workers and educators?” she said.

Three social workers, 20 teachers and two primary schools participated in the study. Due to the content and subject matter, the participants remained anonymous.

“The findings indicated that the most cases of SBPs identified by educators among Grade R to Grade 3 learners could be classified as very concerning behaviour. In addition, the research reflects that educators, who teach foundation phase learners, as well as social workers delivering services under the Safe School Programme, agree that trauma-related behaviours are prominent,” she said.

Learners with SBPs have been assessed to reveal behaviours such as violence, stealing, anger, lying, attention seeking, destructive behaviour and displaying lack of understanding of personal boundaries.

The event was attended by local community workers, officials and family and friends.

“As government we need this sort of research. I am pleased to hear that you are going to hold legislation accountable and make sure that we bring everything together to make a meaningful difference for our children,” said Daylin Mitchell, member of provincial parliament, at the event.

He further congratulated her achievements.