The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate will soon incorporate 32 baby simulators into its Substance Abuse Programme for children.
The Directorate started the acquisition process in 2015 and took delivery of the simulators a few months ago. Each of its eight districts will receive four simulators including a healthy baby simulator, substance abuse addiction simulator, foetal alcohol syndrome simulator, and a shaken baby syndrome simulator.
‘The simulators are able to illustrate quite vividly the impact of substance abuse during pregnancy, the effects of child abuse, as well as the fact that parenting is no walk in the park. It is an unconventional method, but a pilot project last year showed that it works,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.The City has various programmes in place designed to address substance abuse, focusing on suppression through enforcement by the Safety and Security Directorate, intervention through treatment by City Health, and prevention which is the responsibility of the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate.
The key projects in the Directorate’s Substance Abuse Programme foster inter-personal and intra-personal skills for primary schools learners with a focus on emotional intelligence, communication skills, self-esteem, respect for others, and how to handle peer pressure and bullying, etc. A total of 29 schools participated in the project in this financial year, reaching nearly 2 500 learners.
In addition, the Directorate also hosted its ever-growing Strengthening Families Programme in 12 suburbs, reaching 162 families. The Programme aims to help parents raise good, responsible adults by ensuring that children are loved, while also understanding that there are limits and consequences, and then helping parents to implement these boundaries and limits. It also allows parents to understand that limits and boundaries are not negative, by discussing topics such as: love and limits, making those house rules, encouraging good behaviour, and using consequences.
A further 342 individuals participated in workshops highlighting the impact of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
‘Our goal is quite simply to build more resilient young people who are better able to deal with the pressures of youth and thus avoid falling into the trap of dependence and anti-social behaviour. It’s a difficult task, because in a world that demands instant results, the return on this investment will take years to realise.
‘It is also worth noting that in some instances we are filling the gap left by parents who are simply not up to the task of instilling strong values in their children. It could be that they don’t know any better themselves or that they don’t care. The government takes a lot of flak for not addressing social challenges, but those pointing the fingers also need to take a hard look at what they are doing to help fix the situation,’ added Councillor Little.