The hub of Operation Bobbi Bear is The Bobbi Bear Rescue Centre in Amanzimtoti, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa where all Bobbi Bear activities and projects are based. The centre also functions as a drop-in centre, a counselling facility and a community help desk for child sexual abuse. The centre provides a safe haven and temporary home to children who are seeking refuge from abuse and their abusers.
Volunteers and Child Safety Officers are trained here and are based at this centre. Outgrowing its original home, The Bobbi Bear Rescue Centre was built from funds generated through campaigns and donations. The doors opened in 2010.
With the use of specially designed Edu-toys, Bobbi Bear provides age-appropriate HIV/AIDS education and awareness to children at local primary schools. Bobbi Bear recognises the importance of educating children about HIV/AIDS at an early age to prevent the risk of infection. In addition, Bobbi Bear uses this programme to educate teachers and school staff about sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS and to identify sexually abused children in the communities. For more information about how your school and community can benefit please contact us.
Every Saturday morning Bobbi Bear sees all child victims from the previous weeks’ cases at the Bobbi Bear centre for various forms of therapy with the councillors or in-house Psychologists. This is an on-going programme throughout the year and gives victims of rape, sexual abuse and any other form of violence the chance to get together and speak about their trauma. This is a free service to our child victims and their families.
The Child Safety Officers also do a lot of court prep work where victims are shown in our mini court how the court case will proceed. It teaches them how the system works and builds them up to enable them once their court case starts, to testify and not be traumatised when they are facing their perpetrator.
Many courts in, fact, refer cases to Bobbi Bear from different areas requesting the Bobbi Bear staff to assist them to get child victims “ready” for the court case where these children are often faced with years of appearing in court for their case.
Over the years it has been proved that children who are court prepped by Bobbi Bear testify far more openly than children who have not.
Debriefing and support are also offered separately to the children’s parents or caregivers to enable them to cope more effectively and assist their children more effectively in healing.
This is also a very successful part of our work
Despite efforts to achieve a multi-disciplinary, inter-sectorial approach to the criminal justice process, very few rapists are charged due to lack of forensic evidence presented in court (e.g. dockets go missing, reports are poorly written, police go on leave, caregivers are not informed of legal process). Operation Bobbi Bear seeks to promote a structure to enable communities to monitor, intervene and assist the criminal justice process to assert the best interests of a child victim of sexual abuse, from point-of-rescue to court hearing (minimum 2 years). Using therapeutic methods to obtain forensic evidence, the Child Safety Officer (CSO) collaborates with the criminal justice system to ensure the rights of a child victim of sexual abuse.
The Child Safety Officer (CSO) is trained in Pre- and Post-Test HIV/AIDS counselling to assess the risk of the child at point-of-rescue, and assists and is accountable to child throughout the legal process. Our vision is to see two Child Safety Officers in every community of South Africa, trained and equipped “to rescue, represent and reintegrate sexually-abused children, to minimise the risk of HIV/AIDS and to help them towards wholeness.”
“Two Child Safety Officers in every community in South Africa trained and equipped to intervene and assist the criminal justice system to assert the best interests of the child victim of sexual abuse, from point-of-rescue to court hearing and support after the court case.”
The Tree Clinic was started in 1996, as a way of addressing HIV/AIDS, rights, empowerment and democracy development. The Tree Clinic is run every Friday by Bobbi Bear staff and volunteers. At the Tree Clinic, members of the surrounding rural communities receive basic health care, clothing and food donations, resources allowing, advice and education about HIV/AIDS and most importantly care and support from other members.
Children attend the Tree Clinic each week with their mothers/caregivers. Many of the children have been victims of sexual abuse and have either been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Staff and volunteers run an informal pre-school at the Tree Clinic each week, with art and crafts and sports/ educational games being the main activities. Bobbi Bear also uses the Tree Clinic as a way of monitoring sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS in the surrounding areas.
In South Africa, the resources for children are very limited and Bobbi Bear children have suffered a great deal of trauma in their lives. Most of our children have come from broken homes and communities or homes where they are being raped and/or abused by someone they love and trust. Some of these children are taken to a place of safety or foster parents. All our children come from different backgrounds and cultures. The Honour programme is a programme where children are now being regularly visited in their respected places of safety, to make sure that they are being looked after and not being traumatised and hurt further, to make sure that the child is in school and getting the necessary care and love that is needed.
Through the Honor Programme, Bobbi Bear monitor the child to:
BB will ensure that random checks are done to make sure that child can still be found wherever Social Services have placed them. One child can have a new Social worker every three months with different ideas of care. The Honour programme managed to track down a child who was placed in a Government Place of Safety by Social Services (Welfare) and then moved four times to various places, where no-one eventually knew where the child was or who was taking care of her.
Since the start of the Honour programme, Bobbi Bear average up to 100 children per month and this will increase with growth. The children are placed within a 300km radius.