Acts Online
GT Shield

Children's Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005)


General Regulations Regarding Children, 2010

Chapter 6 : Child Protection System (Sections 104-110 and 142(a)-(f) of the Act)

35. Broad risk assessment framework to guide decision-making in provision of designated child protection services


(1) The aim of the broad risk assessment framework contemplated in section 142(c) of the Act is to provide guidelines for—
(a) identification of children who are being abused or deliberately neglected;
(b) assessment of risk factors to support a conclusion of abuse and neglect on reasonable grounds as contemplated in section 110 of the Act;
(c) investigation by a provincial department of social development or a designated child protection organisation upon receipt of a report of the abuse or neglect of a child; and
(d) appropriate protective measures to be taken in respect of a child.


(2) The broad risk assessment framework includes the following guidelines:
(a) The presence of indicators of physical abuse, including bruises in any part of the body; grasp marks on the arms, chest or face; variations in bruising colour; black eyes; belt marks; tears around or behind the ears; cigarette or other burn marks; cuts; welts; fractures; head injuries; convulsions that are not due to epilepsy or high temperature; drowsiness; irregular breathing; vomiting; pain; fever or restlessness;
(b) the presence of emotional and behavioural indicators of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, including aggression; physical withdrawal when approached by adults; anxiety; irritability; persistent fear of familiar people or situations; sadness; suicidal actions or behaviour; self-mutilation; obsessive behaviour; neglect of personal hygiene; age of child demonstrating socially inappropriate sexual behaviour or knowledge; active or passive bullying; unwillingness or fearfulness to undress or wearing layers of clothing;
(c) the presence of developmental indicators of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, including failure to thrive; failure to meet physical and psychological developmental norms; withdrawal; stuttering; unwillingness to partake in group activities; clumsiness; lack of coordination or orientation or observable thriving of children away from their home environment;
(d) the presence of indicators of deliberate neglect, including underweight; reddish scanty hair; sores around the mouth; slight water retention on the palm or in the legs; extended or slightly hardened abdomen; thin and dry skin; dark pigmentation of skin, especially on extremities; abnormally thin muscles; developmental delay; lack of fatty tissue; disorientation; intellectual disability; irritability; lethargy, withdrawal, bedsores and contractures;
(e) a disclosure of abuse or deliberate neglect by the child; or
(f) a statement relating to a pattern or history of abuse or deliberate neglect from a witness relating to the abuse of the child.


(3) A person who, due to the presence of indicators referred to in sub-regulation (2), suspects that a child has been sexually abused, or abused in a manner causing physical injury or deliberately neglected, must assess the total context of the child's situation in accordance with the following guidelines:
(a) Many indicators may be non-specific to abuse or neglect;
(b) a cluster 0: pattern of indicators as opposed to a single isolated indicator will provide support for a conclusion of abuse or neglect;
(c) information about specific times of any incidents, places where incidents have taken place and the context within which incidents have taken place, which must be noted in writing, may provide support for a conclusion of abuse or neglect;
(d) abuse may be unintentional, but failure on the part of the parent or care-giver to prevent abuse of the child may amount to neglect;
(e) abuse may be physical, psychological or sexual without any visible indicators and is likely to exist if the child continuously reports threats of harm or punishment;
(f) a series of minor incidents, any of which may, when considered in isolation, not amount to abuse or neglect, may constitute abuse or neglect when considered together;
(g) the child's age, personality and temperament should be taken into account;
(h) discrepancies in the rendition of incidents by the child and his or her parent or care-giver may either provide or diminish support for a conclusion of abuse or neglect; and
(i) any unexplained delay in seeking medical treatment for a child who is seriously injured, should be considered as a possible indicator of abuse or neglect.


(4) The provincial department of social development or the designated child protection organisation to whom a report has been made in terms of section 110( 1), (2) or (4) of the Act must—
(a) make an assessment of the indicators referred to in sub-regulation (2) by taking the guidelines in sub-regulation (3) into account; and
(b) if a further investigation is required —
(i) establish the facts surrounding the circumstances giving rise to the concern;
(ii) evaluate the child's parental circumstances, including parental characteristics, mental stability, maturity; physical or emotional impairment, substance abuse, capabilities, temperament, employment status, level of support given to the parent or care-giver by friends; the capacity and disposition of the parent or care-giver to give the child guidance and to give adequate and appropriate support to a child with disabilities; emotional bonding between the parent or care-giver and the child; and a history of parental abuse or neglect of the child;
(iii) evaluate the child's family circumstances, including family violence; inappropriate discipline; dependency; marital stress; and family or parental composition;
(iv) evaluate the child's environmental circumstances, including poverty; overcrowding; homelessness; isolation; high mobility of the parents; the presence of social, environmental or financial stress; and the type of neighbourhood and community;
(v) identify sources who may verify the alleged abuse;
(vi) identify the level of risk that the child's safety or well-being is exposed to, including factors indicating that the child has suffered, or is likely in the near future to suffer, a non- accidental physical injury due to conditions which his or her parent or care-giver has failed to correct, or due to their having failed, to provide adequate protection; that the child is displaying symptoms of emotional damage and the unwillingness of the parent to address the problem or to seek assistance; that the child has been sexually abused by a member of the household; and that the child is in need of medical treatment, without which he or she will suffer severe ill-effects;
(vii) identify actual and potential protective and supportive factors in the home and broader environment to minimize risk to the child; and
(viii) decide on the appropriate protective measures or intervention as provided for in the Act.


(5) In deciding upon the appropriate protective measures or intervention as provided for in the Act, the provincial department of social development or a designated child protection organisation must take account of the following:
(a) The total context of the child's situation, given his or her age, and the level of risk that the child is exposed to, bearing in mind that certain injuries may be more prevalent in younger than older children;
(b) the feasibility of prevention and early intervention measures to protect the child, as well as other measures that would minimize the level of risk yet allowing the child to remain in his or her home environment, including the removal of the alleged abuser;
(c) the emotional risk to the child involved in a sudden, unprepared removal; and
(d) the placement of the child in alternative care be considered only in cases where a serious and immediate danger to the child outweighs the trauma involved in such a removal.