Wed May 25 09:10:00 UTC 2016


In commemoration of Child Protection Week (27 May – 2 June), it is important to reflect on the safety and wellbeing of children across South Africa. The Self-defence Schools Programme is an anchor for the cause of child protection week and has equipped over 140 000 school girls with self-defence skills in the last 13 years.

Sponsored by Shoprite, the programme seeks to raise awareness among learners on how to protect themselves, teaching young girls how to stay safe at home, at school and at play. “Through the practice of age appropriate self-defence techniques, girls learn how to recognize threats, verbalize them and act upon them,” says Sanette Smit, well known karateka and self-defence practitioner.

Smit and Margaret Neethling, programme coordinator, host the programme at schools across the Western Cape and it is their passion for child safety that has ensured that girls are capable of protecting themselves.

In 2015, 53 617 sexual offence cases were reported according to South African Police Services. This Child Protection Week, the Self-defence Schools Programme will be focussing on raising awareness of rape and other forms of abuse amongst girls.

The programme has dedicated the entire month of May to empowering girls in the communities of Idas Valley and Cloetesville in Stellenbosch, with the practical tools of self-defence.

During the first quarter of 2016, the programme trained almost 3000 girls in Macassar, Vredehoek, Khayelitsha, Maitland, Heideveld and Pniel in the Western Cape. “The programme had a tremendous impact on our girls and we had two cases come to light because of it. Without the training, the cases could have escalated and we would not have been able to act accordingly to prevent them,” says Dawn Petersen, School Manager at Blomvlei Primary School. 

Shoprite has been sponsoring the programme for the past 13 years and has made a difference in the lives of thousands of girls who would otherwise never have recognized, reported or even have had the courage to step forward and end a cycle of abuse. Neethling, invites more schools to take part in this programme to act together in ending abuse against children especially during Child Protection Week.

For more information, please contact Margaret Neethling on 082 7324 166.

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