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Child Protection Week: We all have a role to play

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The theme this year is: “Let us all protect children, during Covid-19 and beyond”

File image. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

CHILD Protection Week 2020 will be commemorated from Sunday to June 7 under the theme: “Let us all protect children, during Covid-19 and beyond”. 

Nelmarie van Wyk, spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said on Friday that this year the country was faced with the Covid-19 pandemic which affected all individuals. 

“Children, families and communities are in lockdown to flatten the curve of this pandemic and as a result awareness campaigns are limited as gatherings are prohibited.”

Van Wyk said this had necessitated the Department of Social Development to reach out to all sectors and communities through the media to assist in addressing the scourge of child maltreatment, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

All sectors and communities have been urged to focus on stopping child maltreatment, reporting child abuse, neglect and exploitation, highlighting the fact that physcial punishment was harmful to children’s development, protecting children living in child-headed households, protecting the rights of all children, including children with disabilities and chronic illnesses, promoting the importance of ECD (early child development), promoting successful rehabilitation and care of children in conflict with the law, strengthening foster families to care and protect foster children and promoting, protecting and strengthening families. 

“Members of the public can show their support by wearing their green ribbon, which is the approved logo for the Child Protection Week campaign since 2004. “The green symbolises life and growth, to conserve our children and to give them hope.”

Van Wyk pointed out that violence against children cut across boundaries of geography, race, class, religion and culture. “It occurs in homes, schools and on the streets; in places of work and entertainment, as well as in care and detention centres. Perpetrators include parents, family members, teachers, caretakers, law enforcement authorities and other children.

“Some children are particularly vulnerable because of gender, race, ethnic origin, disability or social status. No country is immune, whether rich or poor. Violence is widespread in South African society, to the extent that the country has been described as having the highest prevalence of violence and violence-related injuries in the world among countries where this is measured.”

She added that it was therefore important to change people’s perception towards violence and increase care and protection of children. 

“Based on recent reports in the media, South Africa has been faced with numerous incidents of violence and community members are living in fear,” Van Wyk added. 

“The Northern Cape Province in particular has experienced the violation of children’s rights through serious abuse, including sexual abuse, in some cases leading to death. The most concerning fact is that children are often the perpetrators of these crimes. There is therefore a need for all key stakeholders and civil society to form an alliance which can help with intervention strategies to decrease this violent behaviour plaguing our communities.”

The Child Protection Week campaign was initiated in 1997 to raise awareness and mobilise all sectors and communities to care and protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and all forms of violence. 

The campaign has since become an annual campaign to educate and mobilise communities to put children first. 

The Child Protection Week forms the highlight of the 365 Days’ Campaign of the Department of Social Development, which is intended to strengthen government’s commitment and response towards child safety by mobilising communities to identify and report cases whilst creating safety nets for children in the respective communities. 

For more information on Child Protection Week, and to report child abuse, contact:

Provincial Office: 053 – 874 9100

Frances Baard District: 053 – 807 5900 or 053 – 872 4000

John Taolo Gaetsewe District: 053 – 712 1549

Pixley ka Seme District: 053 – 632 7600

ZF Mgcawu District: 054 – 337 9400

Namaqua: 027 – 712 8606 or 027 – 341 1444