outrage over the video recording of a Soweto teenager being gang-raped has spurred on a Durban-based investigation group in its efforts to fight child abuse, pornography and cyberbullying.
Marc Hardwick, founder of The Guardian, an organisation that helps crime victims and raises awareness of child abuse, said education was the key to tackling the problem – and this was the reasoning behind the series of talks he had prepared for the pupils of Chelsea Preparatory School in Durban North.
“The incident has many angles: you need to look at the background of the boys and what the circumstances of her kidnap and assault were – it’s difficult to say why exactly this was allowed to happen,” he said.
He said the incident was indicative of the huge gap in sexual education, and how the lack of openness affected how boys respected and related to girls, and vice versa.
Hardwick said children, especially at the age of puberty, were already learning about sex in “bits and pieces” from their peers.
“This simply isn’t enough – there needs to be a conversation about sex, about masturbation, about oral sex… and these discussions need to be initiated by parents,” he said.
He said that young children were also very curious about sex and would often venture online to find out what “correct” sexual behaviour was.
“Why should anyone teach my child about sex? This is my responsibility,” he said.
Most of the pupils present had cellphones, and could easily access the internet.
“This is why it’s important for children to be supervised at all times,” he said.
Using anecdotes, videos and a slideshow, he showed how easily children could be manipulated by sexual predators.
“Always go straight to your parents; your mom and dad are always on your team,” he said.
Hardwick covered “sexting” and the laws around the possession, distribution, creation and accessing of child pornography during his talk.
Anne Frost, marketing manager at the school, said the talk had been requested by parents, and Hardwick had even held a session with them.
“We haven’t had any incidents, but it is something that concerns us,” said Frost.