2018 UNISA Youth Research Conference


The bi-annual UNISA Youth Research Unit (YRU) conference was held in Pretoria on 20 and 21 September 2018. This year’s topic: the online and offline sexual exploitation of children in South Africa. Those working to eradicate sexual exploitation commit themselves to prevent it, to stop it and to bring restoration where it has destroyed lives.

The conference exceeded expectations, and drew together various experts and practitioners who represent diverse sectors and all contribute to ending sexual exploitation. It is difficult to reduce the wealth of information and knowledge presented at the conference, to a short blog.

Here are a few conference “snapshots”.


#1 Multi-Sectoral Approach

A multi-sectoral approach that brings all stakeholders and sectors together in an intentional and strategic collaborative effort is essential to successfully address and eradicate sexual exploitation.

It was incredibly encouraging to see representatives from government departments; SAPS and the criminal justice system; the South African Law Reform Commission and other legal experts; the Film and Publication Board; social workers, psychologists and medical professionals; researchers and academics; non-governmental organisations and non-profits; IT consultants; community workers and activists; and survivors, coming together and each bringing their indispensable contribution to the discussion.



#2 Diligent and Dedicated Workers

There are many dedicated and competent individuals who diligently serve South Africa, such as Major General BP Linda of SAPS (National Component Head: Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigation Unit), Mr PO Njobe of the Department of Basic Education (Director: School Safety), Advocate Dellene Clark (Principal State Law Advisor, South African Law Reform Commission) and Mrs Gyan Dwarika (Department of Social Development, Manager: Social Work Policy – Child exploitation). Despite the challenges of the work, they will not give up the good fight to end sexual exploitation.



#3 Multi-Sectoral Approach

Those working to eradicate sexual exploitation need to be attentive to their own mental and physical well-being. The nature of the work has both a psychological and physiological impact.



#4 Language is Powerful

Keynote speaker, Dr Mahri Irvine, is an American anthropologist. Her research interests include: cultural causes of gender-based violence, perpetrator motivations and attitudes, and best practices for violence prevention and cultural change. She emphasised the importance and impact of word choice and sentence construction. Vocabulary and syntax affect how we recognise, understand and respond to sexual exploitation. Especially journalists and jurists should be mindful of the way in which they communicate to the public and in the courts.



#5 Hope and Restoration

Despite the unspeakable horror of sexual exploitation, there are incredibly stories of hope and even restoration. Survivors courageously spoke of what had been done to them and how they not only survived and overcame, but now work to help and give hope to others.



#6 Connection is Key to Prevention ach

The internet-age enables sexual predators to abuse and exploit children in their own homes: children are no longer necessarily safer at home than on the street. Parents should vigilantly monitor their children’s internet use and know who their children are contacting online.

Good parent-child relationships are crucial: if a child feels unable to approach his/her parents for help, he/she will turn elsewhere for help. Often online “friends”, are in fact sexual predators. 



#7 The Destructive Impact of Pornography


Pornography use significantly contributes to sexual exploitation of children. It is not only destructive, but a public health crisis. Even a child never exposed to pornography, can still be sexually abused and exploited by an adult who is a user of adult pornography.

CFJ Executive Director and Legal Counsel, Ryan Smit, addressed delegates on ‘The Proper Contextualising of Pornography as Expression’, essentially setting out the basis for the legal case for restricting the widespread (unlimited) distribution and availability of pornography in South African society.


Cause for Justice remains committed to eradicate both the online and offline sexual exploitation of children in South Africa.


A well-deserved word of congratulations

CFJ would like to congratulate Dr Antoinette Basson and Unisa YRU@MBR. Our expectations for the conference were not only high – they were well exceeded!

It has been our privilege to co-sponsor the conference. We thank Dr Basson and Unisa YRU@MBR for giving us this opportunity.


Subscribe to our newsletter!

Thank you for subscribing!


Share this on your social networks.