The International Day for Protection of Children, is observed in many countries as Children's Day on the 1st of June. It also coincides with “Child Protection Week”- being marked in South Africa from today the 31st of May to the 7th of June. .
During this period, our country will focus on its most fragile and most vulnerable citizens. Pertaining to these citizens- violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination affect women, girls and boys across all social strata in South Africa, greatly reducing their safety and security and at the same time limiting opportunities for development. Violence against women and children often goes unnoticed as it is hidden and rarely reported. Girls and boys can be victims of violence in the home, at school, in the streets, in the community or even in the custody of those who are meant to protect them.
Despite our sophisticated legal framework, South Africa is still marked by high levels of violence against, and exploitation of, children. Recorded levels do not accurately reflect the full extent of the problem because many cases go unreported. In our research, conducted during 2011 and 2012 we established that in that period:
- 50,688 children were victims of violent crime
- 793 children were murdered
- 12,645 children were victims of assault
- 25,862 children were victims of sexual offences
As we know, violence begets violence; and violence has long-lasting consequences for children, with strong evidence of a link between childhood violence and adult mental health disorders and substance abuse.
As Save the Children South Africa:
- We are ensuring that no child in South Africa experiences violence.
- We are mobilising a movement to stop violence against children and letting their voices be heard.
- We are supporting innovative models for addressing the root causes of violence, through a critical exploration of societal norms and values that influence attitudes and behaviour.
- We are ensuring targeted and effective programmes to prevent and respond to violence against children.
- We are promoting the use of positive discipline and leading lobbying efforts for the banning of corporal punishment in the home.
- We are developing new ways to combat all forms of bullying.
Lastly, when we talk of the children in South Africa, we must not forget that one of the most vulnerable group of children in our country are unaccompanied migrant children. Upon arrival in South Africa, many lead precarious lives, often living on the streets and doing odd jobs in the informal sector, on farms or as domestic workers.
On this Child Protection Week, Save the Children South Africa recognises the commitment made by government to the young South African child, and in particular to ensuring that their early childhood care and development will be provided in a safe secure environment and that Child Protection is specifically addressed in the Draft ECD Policy. Furthermore, we are delighted to see Child Protection featuring as a priority for government interventions, initiatives and programmes, to the extent that it is being written into policy.
All children in South Africa deserve to thrive in a safe environment, free from violence.
ABOUT SAVE THE CHILDREN SOUTH AFRICA
Save the Children South Africa is a local organisation fighting for the rights of children in South Africa; helping them fulfil their potential and working together with partners to achieve immediate and lasting change in children’s lives. Save the Children South Africa is part of the world’s largest independent development and rights based organisation for children represented in 120 countries worldwide.
For interviews and further information, please contact: Asanda Magaqa, Media Relations Manager, Save the Children South Africa Tel: +27 (0)12 430 7775