A survey conducted by MXit on close to 50 000 of its young South African users, shows that 64% have themselves, or know someone close to them, who has been a victim of abuse.
The survey was aimed at highlighting the level of abuse against women, children and men in South Africa as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which ends 10 December.
MXit will be handing over the results of the survey to the South African Parliament as supporting documentation to highlight youth issues when they meet at the Youth Summit in Parliament next year.
“The result is very disturbing because it highlights the level of abuse prevalent in South Africa. A more alarming statistic is that 55% of the youth surveyed have not taken steps to get help or to report the crime. The free-form questionnaire enabled users to respond frankly with their own accounts of abuse. From their responses, it is clear that they feel disenfranchised, and do not know where to turn for help or they are too afraid to do so,” says Juan du Toit, international marketing manager for MXit.
In order to combat the fear and isolation associated with abuse, MXit hosted a special ’16 Days of Activism chatroom and recruited a local celebrity to use this platform for young people to open up in a non-threatening environment, to realise that they are not alone – and as an educational on how to seek help.
Childline SA was invited to assist with sensitive queries. Childline National Office already conduct one-on-one counseling sessions on MXit via dedicated chatrooms – and have over 69 000 MXit users who have downloaded the Childline contact to seek assistance.
DJ Suga, one of the first female DJs to secure a prime time radio presenting slot and who has an enormous following of teens and young adults who listen to her on GoodHope FM, hosted the MXit 16 Days of Activism celebrity chat to talk to her fans yesterday.
'No need to go through this alone'
Her message was clear: if you, or someone close to you has been a victim of abuse, you don't need to go through this alone – talk to someone that can help, such as the Childline counsellors on MXit.
“While young people constitute around 40% of South Africa's population, their voices remain unheard, especially where issues of abuse are concerned. The fight against the abuse of women, children and men needs to be led by both young and old.
"Abuse is not the norm, nor is it accepted – and young adults deserve to know this. We need to work together to cultivate a culture of openness when dealing with abuse; especially in South Africa where one in four women are likely to be abused and a quarter of children will be abused before they are 18 years old,” says Suga.
“Getting young people talking is necessary, and MXit allowed them to highlight the level of abuse in South Africa. To enrich the discussion, we chose to enlist a celebrity that understands and connects with the youth, to deliver the message that its ok to ask for help.
Suga has a real talent for engaging the youth and was a perfect fit because they see her as both an educator and entertainer. We hope the research results can effectively be utilised by the National Youth Parliament in a concerted effort to help the youth,” says Du Toit.
16 Days of Activism
The 16 Days of Activism against the Abuse of Women, Children and Men is an international campaign which runs annually from 25 November to 10 December and is aimed at raising awareness about the prevalence of abuse around the world. The campaign has been nationally supported by The Foschini Group CSI in their bid to raise awareness and stop all forms of abuse. Including MXit, they’ve used numerous platforms to reach the SA public to drive home their message.
Childline on MXit
MXit has created a chat room where users can chat directly, and confidentially, to Childline counsellors who offer professional counseling services to young people on their mobile phones.
Childline South Africa currently receives around 100 000 calls a month from children who require counseling on matters related to physical and emotional abuse, neglect and family problems. - (Press Release, December 2009)