The extension  of the lockdown has seen an increase in the desperation and urgency of calls made to Childline Gauteng, with almost 100 relating to the neglect of children.
The extension of the lockdown has seen an increase in the desperation and urgency of calls made to Childline Gauteng, with almost 100 relating to the neglect of children.

Surge in urgent, desperate calls made to Childline during lockdown

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Apr 28, 2020

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The extension  of the lockdown has seen an increase in the desperation and urgency of calls made to Childline Gauteng, with almost 100 relating to the neglect of children.

This comes as the non-profit organisation announced that the provincial branch answered 12 503 calls from March 27 until April 16.

Childline Gauteng revealed in a Covid-19 report that the organisation answered 662 calls which pertained to the pandemic and 647 calls where people requested information about services, including coronavirus-related health information.

Childline Gauteng counsellors have been dispensing Covid-19 information on safety and prevention measures, health information on symptoms, testing clinics, ambulance procurement and hospital services for those who were positive, the organisation said.

In 21 days, Childline received 329 calls related to abuse cases, 159 of these were family problems, 99 calls involved child neglect, 77 calls had to do with legal family issues and 70 related to poverty.

Childline Gauteng director Lynne Cawood said the desperation and urgency of callers were increasing as the lockdown continued into the second phase. Cawood said there was an increase in fear, panic, abusive behaviour towards women and children, poverty and immediate hunger, shack fires, runaway children and parents who disobeyed lockdown regulations.

“People who live in difficult circumstances are extremely worried about food security and it’s amazing that the government has been able to set up a food line and increase Sassa grants.

“I think those will go a long way in addressing the fear and hunger, but there is a general level of greater anxiety for people who are vulnerable to economic force,” she said.

The organisation also answered 539 smaller category calls and the rest were callers who were silent, hung up or tested the counsellors’ responses before disclosing their problem.

Cawood said a contributing factor to the number of calls was that the fear and anxiety about the Covid-19 escalated family issues and difficulties.

“You know what they say about fears coming out at night – so it’s likely that people not going to work and being in lockdown have more time to turn on the troubles that they’re facing,” she said.

Childline Gauteng was encouraged by the government, businesses, organisations and communities who had joined forces to assist the most vulnerable and fight the pandemic, she said.

“We trust that we will collectively flatten the curve and a new South Africa will emerge from the lessons learned during Covid-19 where the right to equality, dignity and life is assured; a reduction of gross economic inequality; increased services, compassion and support for vulnerable people; and a restoration of pride in our country and our people working together to build a great nation demonstrating our African humanity."    @Chulu_M

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