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May 2021 2nd edition

Healing childhood trauma

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

A non-governmental organisation is working hard to help young children deal with past hurts and trauma in the Western Cape 

The Community Keepers non-governmental organisation (NGO) is addressing child abuse by providing 28 schools in the Western Cape with trauma counselling services.

The NGO has counsellors and social workers permanently located at schools in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. The team of professionals assist pupils who have been victims of violence at home or in their local communities.

The NGO’s Chief Executive Officer Gerrit Taning says they treat pupils with different traumatic experiences through group and individual sessions.

“We work in disadvantaged communities where violence is prevalent. We help children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, loss, poverty and other challenges that are faced by children,” says Taning.

One of the key topics the NGO seeks to address during sessions with the pupils is the belief that 'men don't cry'. The organisation aims to teach young boys to be in tune with their feelings and emotions. This will encourage young boys to talk about their feelings and experiences.

Taning says that trauma can cause behavioural problems in children.

“When there is a cycle of traumatic experiences that builds up, it often affects children negatively. A quiet child will start lashing out and engaging in risky behaviour. A child that was outgoing suddenly becomes withdrawn. Some pupils go from the brightest students to not being able to keep up with their peers.”

He says that trauma can be dealt with, but it requires proactive teaching of children before the cycle is repeated. 

Schools looking to partner with Community Keepers can call 072 781 5535 or email info@communitykeepers.org.