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Child protection under spotlight

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National Children’s Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of November annually to promote the rights of children and a society where children are not just seen but heard

THE FILM and Publication Board will be celebrating National Children’s Day with two events in Kimberley today and tomorrow.

National Children’s Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of November annually to promote the rights of children and a society where children are not just seen but heard.

“The Northern Cape has been in the spotlight recently with several reported cases of the creation and possession of child pornography (child sexual abuse material), with suspected perpetrators appearing in the local law courts. Advocacy against child sexual abuse in communities focuses mostly on rape and assault cases involving children. Child pornography on the other hand is less understood and therefore is not as well publicised as a form of child sexual abuse/exploitation that the public need to look out for and report,” Dr Maria Motebang, acting CEO for the Film and Publication Board (FPB), said in a statement yesterday.

“The FPB has a responsibility to protect children from exposure to inappropriate/harmful content and we prioritise public awareness education on the importance of safe content consumption, eradicating child sexual abuse material and cyber safety, while advocating for responsible digital citizenship.

“On National Children’s Day, the FPB will convene two dialogues with child protection stakeholders and one with children in the Northern Cape to spread this message to our citizens,” Motebang said.

Today’s child protection stakeholder dialogue will include parents and will focus on cyberbullying, online child grooming, what constitutes child pornography and the legal implications associated with the creation, possession and distribution of such material.

The dialogue is also aimed at creating awareness of the FPB’s age restrictions and elements when it comes to films and games, focussing on the psychological impact of exposing children to inappropriate or harmful content not suitable to their age.

The children’s dialogue will be hosted tomorrow and will commence with a movie screening which is meant to create a fun element while educating children on how the FPB reaches its film and game classification decisions.

The children will then engage in a dialogue on whether the classification decision assigned to the movie is appropriate/inappropriate and why they think so.

In the 2018/2019 financial year, the FPB noted that violence remains the most prevalent element in films released in South Africa, followed by crude language and scenes with sexual activity.

A 2015 Unisa study, commissioned by the FPB to assess the impact of media content on South African children, showed that most children in the research focus groups hardly noticed the violent content. Those who did, reported that the impact on them was mostly minimal as they are used to exposure to such content.

This, the report argued, suggested that children in South Africa were becoming de-sensitised to violence.

Today’s Child Protection Stakeholder dialogue takes place at the Living Waters Wellness Agency at 27 Coos Street from 9am to 1pm, while tomorrow’s children’s movie screening will be at Ster-Kinekor at the North Cape Mall from 9am to 1pm.