Social ills continue to have an impact on the wellbeing of South Africa’s children, Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said on Sunday.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Child Protection Week in Tshwane, the Deputy Minister said since the drafting of the Children’s Act in 2005, social ills such as alcohol and drug abuse continues to plague the African continent’s southernmost country.
“We can’t talk about child protection until we sort out the issue of alcohol abuse, [at] the heart of alcohol abuse is also the abuse of children. Sometimes the school is safer than the home so until we actively deal with the issue of alcohol abuse, we will never be able to deal with the realities of protecting children because those who are supposed to protect them are always drunk, renegading the responsibilities to protect the children,” she said as she launched the initiative at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) offices.
She said other social ills like women abuse go hand in hand with child abuse.
“You cannot deal with violence against women unless you deal with violence against children. So whatever you want to do in terms of violence against children, you have to do in terms of violence against women.”
Bogopane-Zulu said government cannot take the sole responsibility of looking after the country’s children.
“The best thing government can do is put in place guidelines that establish order and function in society,” she said.
In addition, South Africa will not win the fight against the abuse of children if all misdeeds are blamed on men without addressing their issue.
“We also won’t win if we are forever pointing fingers at men, we are starting the register of perpetrators. We need to change the conversation men have,” she said, adding that government is rolling-out shelters for men and young men as most shelters around the country cater for women
She said government wants to ensure that “prison is not the ultimate end” for perpetrators but that support programmes be established to rehabilitate perpetrators “to get us to a different South Africa”.
“By so doing we will be able to protect children,” she said of the initiative that was started in 1997.
The Deputy Minister also spoke of the need to protect children with albinism.
Child Protection Week was established so as to raise awareness about the need for communities to protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and other forms of violence and ill-treatment.
Child Protection Week will run from today until 3 June. - SAnews.gov.za