Children in South Africa live in a society with a Constitution that has the highest regard for their rights, equality and dignity. Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic value but also an obligation as set out in the Constitution Article 28 of South Africa Constitution.
Busi Kheswa from Gauteng Department of Social Development says children are guaranteed a right to parental care, and where it is inadequate; the state will provide appropriate alternative care.
“Therefore, child protection is a national programdirected at preventing and responding to violence against children, abuse, neglect, exploitation – including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labor, exploitation, and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage,” says Kheswa.
Kheswa says as the country celebrates 27 years of the Constitution; it is important to note that protecting a child is about upholding the rights of a child as provided for in section 28 of the Constitution of the Republic.
“Child Protection allows children to have access to other rights such as survival, development, growth, and participation,”
She says the protection and access to children’s rights cannot take place if children’s rights are not known and promoted.
“Violence against children and gender-based violence issues have been declared the country’s second pandemic and have reportedly worsened during and post the COVID-19 hard lockdown.”
Kheswa says although contact crimes against children were on the decline in the past year, the data still leaves a lot to be desired.
“The police have recorded 943 murders and over 24,000 sexual offences against children,” she says.
According to police’s, Norman Sekhukhune, the number of children involved contact crimes murder has decreased by 71; sexual offenses by 2,317; attempted murder showed a reduction of 47; assault grievous bodily harm declined 309, and common assault slowed by 137.