‘Stop abusing our kids’

2018-06-05 06:01
Residents of Kensington, Factreton and Garden Village marching in 14th Avenue to mark Child Protection Week.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

Residents of Kensington, Factreton and Garden Village marching in 14th Avenue to mark Child Protection Week.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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Local police, child protection advocacy groups, parents, children and other concerned community members joined forces, just in the nick of time, to mark Child Protection Week this past weekend.

The national campaign, established to raise awareness about the rights of children, came to an end on Sunday 3 June, but not before the communities of Kensington, Factreton and Garden Village raised their voices.

A local daycare centre teacher and the mother of an abuse victim warned perpetrators to stop the abuse or face the full might of the law. “The (abusers) need to stop because they are not going to get away with it forever. They really need to stop, they are hurting our children and it’s not fair.”

Aniqa Abrahams, a Factreton parent, said: “We are here to stand up for our children. The perpetrators need to start realising that children are the future of
tomorrow.”

Three fathers – Maxwell Apollis, Andre Prinsloo and Zahir van Rheede – called on men to lead by example and stop abusing women and children.

Apollis said: “Start taking responsibility for your actions. We are here and we are against (abuse) – we need to reclaim the name ‘men’.”

Thirteen-year-old local learner, Zoe Adams, asked other children to avoid unsafe places and report crime.

The community members were speaking during a march led by the South African Police Service, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Forum and children’s rights organisation Think Twice in Kensington on Saturday 2 June.

The local community marched to the local sports grounds on an awareness drive and to call for an end to child abuse.

Brandishing placards with messages such as “No to abuse” and “Protect the children”, the group sang and danced towards the 14th Avenue sportsgrounds, defying the cold weather.

“Every day a child is victimised, every day a child’s rights are violated,” said Marcia Sibara, the executive director of Think Twice. She went on to stress the need for more awareness to ensure children report all forms of abuse. “We try and build confidence in children so that they report whatever wrong that is happening to them.

“The more we pass this information on to children, the more we build courage in them to report,” said Sibara.

She said her organisation commends parents who do their best to protect, love, care for and nurture children and reminds those who fail, to do so.

Police spokesperson, Sergeant Angeline Grill, shared Sibara’s sentiments.

She added that police partnered with both organisations, Think Twice and ECD Forum (Kensington, Factreton, Garden Village and Maitland – even though the latter is outside their area), to spread the word across the community “that our children need to be protected because they are the building blocks of our community”.

Grill explained that Child Protection Week celebrations were shifted to incorporate Youth Month because “we felt one week was too little time to get to everybody”.

The march to the sports grounds targeted community members watching sport as well as passersby.

The message from the police, said Grill, was to “passionately protect our children because they are among the most vulnerable”.

Mymoena Anthony from the local ECD Forum explained that, like the other activists, the forum had joined the event to spread awareness around child protection “as our children are very important to us”.

The forum is responsible for 25 crèches in the communities and had invited children and parents to attend the march.

After the march, the activists handed out pamphlets, particularly to children, to allow them to read about their rights and dangers as well as ways to report crime and abuse.

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