Remember children with disabilities

2017-07-19 06:05

CHILDREN with disabilities are more likely to be abused, exploited and neglected than other children, despite the admirable legal protections that are afforded them, according to the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), in a press release by national director Therina Wentzel during Child Protection Week.

“During Child Protection Week, the NCPD launched a tailor-made programme for schools to help schoolchildren include, understand, embrace and respect diversity, with special reference to persons and children with disabilities,” Wentzel says.

The NCPD offers training to school governing bodies, staff, teachers, parents and children on how to create inclusive environments for children with disabilities.

“The solutions are available and small actions can make a big difference,” says Wentzel.

The Bill of Rights in the Constitution states every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation. Furthermore, this protection is reinforced through the Children's Act, which emphasises the State’s role in providing social services to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for and protect children.

Current research shows South Africa has fallen way behind these promises, despite the adoption in 2001 of a policy to provide inclusive education for all children with disabilities. Key aspects of the policy have not been implemented, affecting an estimate half a million children and young adults.

An estimated 600 000 children with disabilities are excluded from education.

Children with disabilities are regularly turned away from mainstream schools because the institutions are not designed or willing to take on a child with a disability. The extra cost of keeping a child in a school for children with special needs can also place an enormous burden on families. However, many of these problems can be solved — NCPD has offices in all nine provinces with personnel to give training and advice to teachers and schools.

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