Kokstad children voice concerns

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pretoria – About 600 children from 13 schools in the Greater Kokstad Local Municipality participated in dialogue sessions which sought to provide a safe space for children to interact and share their concerns.

Some of the concerns raised included physical abuse by parents and teachers, violent killings of parents through crime and maltreatment by step parents.

The dialogue sessions were organised by the Department of Social Development as part of the lead-up activities to the launch of Child Protection Week, which takes place in Kokstad, in KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday.

The dialogues also sought to provide potential solutions that could inform the deliberations with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Sunday.

Among the things experienced by children also included learners threatening others by carrying knives to schools, insults, as well as verbal abuse.

The children also said they were often sent by adults to buy alcohol, regularly have their food and clothes stolen and have experienced house robberies. 

According to a study released by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the high levels of violence against children are particularly alarming and continue to have a devastating and lasting effect on children. 

The department emphasised that protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic value, but also an obligation clearly set out in Article 28 of the South African Constitution. 

“The aim of child protection is to ensure the safety, well-being, care and protection of children through an integrated multi-disciplinary approach. Child Protection Week also seeks to build on the positive initiatives already taking place within communities aimed at protecting children,” the department said.

Despite some challenges in their community, children in Kokstad expressed appreciation for having services like access to safe recreational facilities, availability of safe drinking water and electricity.

They also appreciated the new schools that have been built in their community, the roads that make it easier for them to get to school and general togetherness of their community.

Through Child Protection Week, government hopes to work with communities and other stakeholders to build on these positives and create a better environment which ensure that children are protected from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Government has put in place a number of measures aimed at protection children. The number of children accessing Early Childhood Development (ECD) services has increased steadily over the years to more than 1.2 million. 

Of these, more than 620 000 enjoy an ECD government subsidy, which is R15 per child per day for 264 days of ECD attendance each year.

The Department of Social Development’s Isibindi Model is now providing social support services to about 105 000 children across the country.

Isibindi Model is an initiative that deploys trained community-based child and youth care workers that provide care, protection and developmental support to child and youth-headed households.

The national theme for Child Protection Week is “Working Together to Protect Children”. Government has urged all South Africans to wear a green ribbon during Child Protection Week to show support for the promotion of the rights, care and protection of the child. – SAnews.gov.za

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