Hotline for Educators and Learners to Report Abuse and School Crime
22 April 2014
The Western Cape Education Department has various contact centres, which play important dedicated roles in addressing the needs of our schools, educators, parents and learners.
One such contact centre is the WCED’s Safe Schools hotline.
The hotline is available for schools, educators, parents and learners to report all school crime and abuse and aims to contribute to a safe and crime-free school environment.
The Safe Schools Call Centre can be reached at toll-free number 0800 45 46 47, and provides immediate, free, online communication to learners, parents and teachers needing help, guidance or information regarding education-related safety issues.
These issues include the reporting of traumatic incidents, such as gang violence within a community and fatal accidents. It can also include the reporting of school crime such as burglaries and vandalism, physical assault and abuse.
The call centre also takes calls concerning queries such as teenage pregnancy, HIV/Aids, truancy and behavioural problems.
The popularity and use of the call centre is evident by the number of calls received each year. Last year, the Safe Schools call centre received a total of 14 060 calls, 3 343 of which required further assistance and support.
About 1 055 calls dealt with reports on burglary and vandalism, 612 on crime related incidents, 425 on abuse and bullying, 524 for Governing Body related queries, and 180 for counseling and psychological support.
In 2012, a total of 14 211 calls were made to the Safe Schools call centre. About 3 358 of the calls required further support or assistance. Whereas 862 of these calls dealt with burglary and vandalism, 621 were crime related incidents, 552 on abuse and bullying, 308 for counselling and psychological support and 558 on Governing Body enquiries.
The majority of Governing Body enquiries deal with disciplinary matters such as misconduct.
The WCED takes child abuse very seriously and all abuse calls are handled sensitively and with care. Initial counselling or guidance, based on the Abuse No More Protocol, is given when necessary. Child abuse can include physical or emotional abuse, sexual harassment or rape, corporal punishment, racial discrimination and substance abuse.
When members of the public call the call centre they immediately receive online debriefing during crisis calls and, during non-crisis calls, are directed, when necessary, to the counselling agencies of the Western Cape Education Department, non-governmental organisations and community organisations.
In some instances the call centre will require the support of the South African Police Services or the applicable emergency service. For instance, during an incident of gang violence and/or trespassing, the call centre will ensure that the relevant authorities are alerted to deal with gang intimidation and threats, gang shootings and gang killings in and around the school.
When an incident of crime, such as burglary, theft or physical assault is reported to the call centre, the WCED will offer the school advice on the procedures that need to be followed, and will inform the relevant authorities.
The call centre is open from Monday to Friday, 07:00 to 16:00, and is situated at the WCED’s Head Office. It provides a service in the three official languages of the Western Cape: Afrikaans, English and Xhosa; and serves as a co-ordinating centre from which referrals are made to appropriate agencies and from which vital information is disseminated to the relevant parties. This includes inter- and intra-dependent non-governmental organisations, community organisations and faith-based organisations.
These organisations contribute to the Safe Schools’ efforts to create a safe learning environment at our schools, and are valued for their time, commitment and support.
The school community can also help us by reporting all incidents of school violence, vandalism, crime and any other form of abuse to the Safe Schools Call Centre at our toll-free number.
The WCED wants to make our school environment safe. We also want to be a caring and responsive department that is in touch with the safety and wellbeing of our educators and learners.
We therefore encourage all learners and their educators to make use of the service that we have on offer, so that we can contribute to making both their school environment and themselves safe.