Professional Boundaries in Working with Young People: The Perspectives of Child and Youth Care Workers in Durban, South Africa




professional boundaries, child and youth care centres, child and youth care workers, young people, residential setting


Professional boundaries are a set of guidelines, expectations and rules that set the ethical and technical standards between the child and youth care workers (CYCWs) and young people. Professional boundaries are important to establish and maintain, as they assist to build the therapeutic relationship between the professional worker and client. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the perspectives of CYCWs in relation to professional boundaries in residential child and youth care centres (CYCCs) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. To achieve this aim, the study was guided by a qualitative, exploratory, and descriptive design. A purposive sampling technique was employed, and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 14 CYCWs. The analysis suggests that, while CYCCs have developed professional boundaries, there remains a great need for the provision of clear rules and regulations about professional boundaries, and life-long training (in-service professional development) focused on boundaries and support from management.


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Author Biographies

Reggiswindis Thobile Hlengwa , Durban University of Technology

Thobile has practiced child and youth care in various residential settings from 1991-1998. She is registered as an assessor with the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA). In 2004, she obtained a B Tech Degree in Child and Youth Development at the then Durban Institute of Technology (DIT). She obtained her Honours degree in Social Development from the University of Cape Town (UCT). She obtained her Masters in Education (Higher Education) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Since 2007, Thobile has been employed as a CYC lecturer.

Andile Samkele Masuku, Durban University of Technology

Andile Samkele Masuku holds a Degree of Bachelor in Child and Youth Care (cum laude) and a Degree of Master in Health Sciences. Currently, he is registered for a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Durban University of Technology.  His research focus is on social issues affecting high school learners and students in higher education. He is also interested in community engagement and student leadership. 

Andile Masuku is currently employed as a Student Development Officer in the Department of Student Governance and Development. He was previously employed as a Health Promotion Project Officer in the Department of Student Counselling and Health. He previously served as an Administrative Assistant in the Office of Executive Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. In 2020, on a part-time basis, he was appointed as a Residence Advisor. Before that, he served as a Student Residence Assistant in the Department of Student Housing and Residence Life.

He has served on various leadership responsibilities which include the following: (1) Gender Forum Secretary (2020-2022); (2) Student Housing Community Engagement Chairperson (2019); (3) Central Housing Council President (2018); (4) Winterton Residence House Committee Chairperson (2017); and (5) Green Campus Initiative Project Officer (2016). 

He is part of a Hlomisa Scholarship Programme: For Postgraduate Studies and Leadership Development coordinated under the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Thandwa Mthembu.

He is a coordinator of a Saturday Tutorial Education Program in the Department of Student Governance which was recognised in 2021 as a top 10 community engagement project in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Engagement. He was recognized as top 18 – impactful and influential visionaries in 2021 by Enable Youth Organization. 

Lindelwa Vernon Mkhize, Durban University of Technology

Lindelwa is a COIL Coordinator for the International Education and Partnerships Directorate at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). She holds a Degree of Bachelor of Child and Youth Care. She has worked as a Child and Youth Care Worker with children, youth, families, and communities in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, South Africa. She holds a Degree of Master of Health Sciences acquired at the Durban University of Technology. She is a researcher, and passionate about community development, community health, and internationalisation. She has worked as an assistant lecturer and researcher and is currently working for the international office at DUT where she coordinates COIL/VE projects.



Maureen Nokuthula Sibiya, Mangosuthu University of Technology

Prof Nokuthula Sibiya is currently serving as a Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research Innovation and Engagement at the Mangosuthu University of Technology. Previously, she served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at the Durban University of Technology. Professor Sibiya joined DUT in August 2003 as a lecturer in the Department of Nursing. She graduated with her doctoral qualification in 2009. She served as Head of Department (HOD) of Nursing from 2011-2017. During her tenure as HOD, in 2017, she received from the Nursing Education Association (NEA) an Excellence Award for Leadership in Nursing Education for the successful implementation of an undergraduate nursing programme at DUT with a strong Primary Health Care (PHC) philosophical underpinning at a tertiary institution to address the shortage of nurses in the KwaZulu-Natal province. DUT was the first university of technology to offer such a programme in South Africa. She served on several task teams at the South African Nursing Council (SANC) including but not limited to the task team that developed the aligned Bachelor Degree for Nursing and the task team that developed the competencies for PHC. She has also served as Chairperson of the Forum of the University Nursing Deans of South Africa, 2016-2018, and Chairperson of the KZN Chapter of the Nursing Education Association (NEA) from February 2013 to 2016. For recognition of her scholarly contribution in PHC, in September 2015 she was inaugurated as a Fellow of the Academy of Nursing of South Africa. In 2017, Prof Sibiya was appointed as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. She is a full professor. With a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating, Prof Sibiya is the author of 67 peer-reviewed publications, two books and ten book chapters. In 2019 alone, she co-authored 13 peer-reviewed articles. As the year 2020 started, she already had four co-authored publications in press. She has made more than 50 keynote and related presentations at national and international platforms. She has successfully supervised 13 doctoral and 52 master's students. On 23 August 2018, at the South African Women in Science Awards, Prof Sibiya was recognised by the Department of Science and Technology as the 2018 Distinguished Woman Scientist: Humanities and Social Sciences. She has also received a number of research awards from DUT that include being the Top DUT Female Researcher of the Year, Top Researcher in the Faculty of Health Sciences. In 2019, she was awarded as the 2018 Senior Researcher of the Year. She was also awarded by the Forum of Professional Nurse Leadership as the 2019 Regional Nurse Leader. She is currently involved in a South African Medical Research Council-funded project on evaluation of web-based district health information systems and health patient registration systems to monitor sexual, reproductive, maternal, and child health indicators for universal health coverage. Prof Sibiya serves in several university structures, to list a few, Senate representative at Council, Senate representative for a two-year term on the Honorary Degrees Committee, Senate representative for a five-year term on the Electoral College for the election of the DUT’s Chancellor. She previously served as the Senate representative at the Institutional Forum and as Deputy Chairperson at the Institutional Research Ethics Committee.



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How to Cite

Hlengwa, Reggiswindis Thobile, Andile Samkele Masuku, Lindelwa Vernon Mkhize, Maureen Nokuthula Sibiya, and Nellie Naranjee. 2024. “Professional Boundaries in Working With Young People: The Perspectives of Child and Youth Care Workers in Durban, South Africa”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 36 (2):18 pages.



Received 2023-06-05
Accepted 2024-03-13
Published 2024-06-26