THE Eastern Cape Department of Health in collaboration with Sarah Baartman District Municipality region held a dialogue about sexual assault and substance abuse with pupils from Nompucuko High School from Marselle and Kuyasa Combined School from Nemato at Jauka Hall last Thursday.
The theme of the campaign was “Be who you want to be”.
Among the officials in attendance were provincial programme manager of the Centre for Communication Impact South Africa (CCISA) Chris Bakawuli and Sarah Baartman demand creation coordinator Welile Jack.
The officials said the dialogue had started in Makana before coming to Ndlambe.
Health official Sphokazi Magqalaza said they had invited a number of schools to the event but had to cancel some due to the lack of transport. She said that they could only afford to transport two schools. She encouraged participants to share information with their peers. Engaging in the dialogue were Grade 8 to 12 pupils under the topics of sexual assault and substance abuse.
Pupils were divided into two groups with one group discussing sexual assault while the other one focused on substance abuse, before they did a presentation for the audience in the hall. In their presentations they focused on causes and preventions for each of the two topics.
Among the causes for substance abuse the pupils mentioned peer pressure and domestic abuse. They also indicated that background and environment had an influence.
As for sexual assault, pupils felt most young girls are likely to be sexually assaulted when under the influence of alcohol.
Commenting on their presentations, Magqalaza said she was thrilled by their awareness and encouraged them to abstain.
But she noted that pupils indicated a lack of knowledge on how to report abuse. “When these things happen they do not know where they should report them and therefore we are here to close that gap.” She encouraged pupils to report any form of abuse to their parents, teachers and police stations.
Welile Jack from Sarah Baartman said: “The overarching objective of the CCISA is on social and behaviour change communication strategy for risk reduction for HIV among the youth.” He added that they are determined to improve the use of hematocrit test services offered by NGOs to vulnerable population segments in the district.