Children must be protected

2015-06-02 06:00

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Each year, seven days are dedicated to raising awareness about the rights and needs of children.

This week marks National Child Protection Week, which focuses on some of our most vulnerable citizens.

It’s a time for us to take a long hard look at the abuse, neglect and exploitation of our children. We are reminded of the need to protect them.

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, according to Save the Children South Africa, a non-profit organisation promoting children’s rights.

The organisation estimates that between 2011 and 2012, during which research was carried out, over 50 000 children were victims of violent crime, over 12 500 of assault and almost 26 000 of sexual offences.

In 2011, a study by the South African Human Rights Commission and Unicef found violence against children occurs on a large scale and in any of the settings where children spend their childhood – in homes and with families, in schools, care and justice systems, workplaces and communities. The report found that 1 in 3 parents use severe corporal punishment in the form of beatings. Almost 30% of all sexual offences against children involve children under 10 years of age.

But with these shocking numbers, how can we settle with only seven days of awareness?

It falls to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our children and to keep them safe.

Every day needs to be dedicated to protecting our children, not just one week


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