Children’s rights are a world wide clarion call – yet, when it comes to implementing it in practice, the hearts of everybody starts racing because suddenly the issue is not just academic, it’s personal. In practice it is evident that children’s voices are not being heard or taken into consideration – while adults are solely responsible for making decisions that affects the lives children have to live. Children continue to suffer and are being traumatised due to the fact they have to live a life decided by adults who presumed to know the best. The fact that there is no consistency when working with children, specifically during the legal process, has been experienced as a serious problem. Research was undertaken to rectify the situation. The hypothesis for the intended study was formulated as follows: A protocol that can be followed by professional role-players can ensure that children’s rights will be protected during a legal process. The key professional role-players involved with children during a legal process have been identified as social workers, commissioners of child welfare, lawyers, family advocates and judges. In the qualitative study, a semi-structured schedule was utilized as guide for the personal interviews with each of the respondents. From this data, a protocol was developed and evaluated after implementation in order to determine whether such a protocol will enable the professional role-player to protect the rights of children during a legal process. The quantitative results proofed that a protocol as a hands-on guideline, is a much needed tool for the professional role-player in practice. From the study it was concluded that the existence of a protocol will enable the professional role-player to protect children’s rights during a legal process. Important recommendations included the following: <li>Specific skill training of the professional role-players in working with children.</li> <li>The value of implementing a separate family court system, involving all the professional role-players.</li> <li>The different professional role-players should respect each other’s profession, their abilities and skills and perform as a team to the benefit of the children in the legal process. Working against each other is to work ego-centered in stead of child-centered.</li>
Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2007.