Pretoria - South Africans have been urged to promote children's rights and child protection by wearing a green ribbon during the Child Protection Week.
By wearing the ribbon one will be giving a voice to vulnerable, abused and exploited children who may not be able to speak for themselves.
Child Protection Week, which is held from 25 to 31 May, is an annual campaign to promote partnerships between all sectors of society to improve the living conditions of vulnerable children and their families.
Minister of Social Development Minister Edna Molewa said the week reminded society that it has a collective responsibility to protect children. "The issue of child abuse and the protection of children from all forms of vulnerability are a vital societal concern."
Millions of children benefit from free primary healthcare, school feeding schemes and the no-fee school policy for children from poor households in South Africa. These interventions ensure that children grow up in environment where they can blossom to their full potential.
A total of 8.5 million children receive child support grants, 474 012 receive a foster care grant and the age extension from 14 to 15 years has reached 75 591 recipients.
Through the Home Community Based Care programme 407 937 orphans and vulnerable children and 53 607 child headed households have been identified by the department and receive services.
Government has also established 1 567 Child Care Forums to assist with early identification of orphans and vulnerable children as well as places of safety and community-based interventions country-wide to provide care and psychological support to survivors of abuse.
Government has also passed comprehensive pieces of legislation regarding the care and protection of children, including the Children's Act 38 of 2005, the Children's Amendment Act 41 of 2007 and the Social Assistance Act 6 of 2008.
Ms Molewa said the establishment of the national child protection register has greatly assisted the department in gathering information on the extent of child abuse, neglect or exploitation of children.
All children who have been the subject of an investigation relating to child abuse, neglect, labour or exploitation are put on a register until they are 18-years-old. They remain on the register even if the case has been closed and the family situation is deemed safe enough for the child to return to/remain in the family home.
It is also used to gather information about a family over a long period of time to facilitate decision-making if facts can not be proven.
However, a Children's Court case is opened first to interact with the family as a preventative measure and ensure that the child does not enter deeper into the statutory process.
The register is also useful for research to inform policies, welfare planning and allocation of human resources and budget.
This year's Child Protection week will be held under the theme: "Caring communities protect children".
The department has also partnered with United Nations Children's Fund and civil society organisations to highlight the importance of child protection.
The provincial departments are planning the activities throughout the week to create greater awareness about child abuse, neglect and exploitation and encourage families and communities to report such cases.
The week will also be used to enhance partnerships with various stakeholders and communities in order to build a caring society for children and advocate for children's rights by strengthening families and enable them to care, support and protect.
People who would like to report abuse can call Crime Stop on 08600 10 111, Childline on 0800 055 555 or the Department of Social Development on 0800 60 10 11.