Children need safety

2018-05-30 06:01
Gift van Staden, MEC for Social Development in the Northern Cape, at the launch on Monday (28/05).

Gift van Staden, MEC for Social Development in the Northern Cape, at the launch on Monday (28/05).

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A call has been made for communities to go back to the pre-1994 era, when everyone was taking ownership in a bid to protect children.

This was done by Gift van Staden, MEC for Social Development in the Northern Cape, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of the 21st annual Child Protection Week (held from 27 May to 3 June) in the province.

The launch took place at the Boitumelo No. 2 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Verge­noeg on Monday (28/05).

Van Staden encouraged the establishment of street committees and also urged churches to support parent­hood.

He said this week would be set aside to highlight the rights of, and the challenges faced by, children – the future leaders – and several programmes would be run.

The MEC said child protection was an everyday responsibility and that it was the responsibility of parents to do the good that God had entrusted to them, which was to protect.

A reality check of how challenging it is for a parent to raise a child these days was done by the MEC.

“When looking at society, I become more and more convinced that we are assuming that someone is just born with the natural talent to be a parent,” Van Staden said.

“The number of challenges that we are facing today, including the different environments in which we have to bring up a child today, are huge.”

He expressed concern about whether government was doing enough to support parents in their role and duty.

“Are we doing enough to empo­wer parents to bring up a child in the environment of today – the age of cellphones and social media and the children being exposed to things that did not take place in the past?”

He gave his department the task of getting adequate response to the question of whether enough support was given to parents.

He said programmes run throughout the week had to address this question – with prevention in mind, instead of chasing the problem when the damage had already been done.

The MEC admitted that resources were not spent on preventative measures when it came to protecting children.

He said the imbalance between the rights and responsibilities of children also had to be addressed among South Africans.

Van Staden touched on the issue of children with disabilities, whom he said remained the most marginalised and excluded group in society.

He said they faced daily discrimination and were barred from realising their rights to access health care, education and having their voice heard.

“Their disability also places them at a higher risk of being physically abused and sexually exploited.

“More needs to be done to ensure that every child is protected.”

Van Staden applauded the courts for passing harsh sentences on child abusers.

Commenting on the case of Poppie van der Merwe (3), whose parents had been sentenced to life imprisonment for her death, he said it should not be a mother who is sentenced for the death of her very own child.

“We condemn all these atrocious acts and we will support law enforcement in all its efforts to fight this evil in society,” he said.

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