Stemming the tide of child abuse eKasi

2015-08-27 06:00

The rise of child neglect as a social and public health phenomenon is concerning in our communities’.

Ms. Sipokazi Bona, a senior social worker and head of the clinical department at Ilitha Labantu uttered these words recently.

Ilitha Labantu is an organization founded in Gugulethu 26 years ago, which has a specific focus on promoting women and children rights and the elimination of violence against women and children.

This we try to accomplish by offering immediate counselling and support to individuals, families and communities who come knocking on our door, citing the above.

Ilitha Labantu has noted with disdain the increasing number of cases of child neglect that have been reported over the past 7 months. Child abandonement by young parents in our communities has also become a cause for concern

They, more than most, lack the adequate means to support their young children or are too ill to give them the necessary attention they require.

These parents tend to show a lack of interest in their own children; one elderly client who recently reported a case of child neglect, stated, inter alia, that: “my granddaughter shows no interest in her two kids, she is more interested in getting drunk with friends”.

In another case, a member of the community said she was concerned about the mental health of a young girl who was constantly exposed to incessant, violent family fighting.

She added: “I worry about that young girl because of the situation in that house, as neighbours, we often have to intervene to stop the fighting.

The little girl used to be very cheerful, now she has become very quiet(withdrawn)”.

Child neglect is a form of abuse which is described as a failure to provide for a child’s needs.

Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. Physical neglect includes the refusal or delay of parents to seek adequate healthcare for a chil, or abandonment. Educational neglect refers to a failure to enrol a child to mandatory schooling or failure to attend a child’s educational needs. Emotional neglect refers to the failure to provide adequate nurturing and affection to a child.

From the above, one can understand that abuse is multifaceted and that physical abuse can be shocking due to the physical scars it leaves, emotional abuse and neglect can leave a long lasting effect on children’s development.

Sadly, our communities have adopted a culture of silence or “let me stay out of it” attitude towards such issues, which results in children suffering alone. We are raising a generation of highly traumatized children as a result of our inability to respond to the needs of children, and as an organization we strongly urge the community to be very vigilant and take a stand against all forms of child abuse by reporting any suspicious behaviour or activities, it is our protect our children.

.Siyabulela Monakali is the researcher and media liaison officer at Ilitha Labantu

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