THE ONLINE AND OFFLINE
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN SOUTH AFRICA
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
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
#3 Multi-Sectoral Approach
#4 Language is Powerful
#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.