A CALL FOR CHILDREN TO REPORT THEIR PAIN

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By Cuma Pantshwa 

  • South Africa’s Constitution enshrines the rights and dignity of children, mandating protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse as set out in Article 28. President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the need for societal diligence in safeguarding children from predators and criminal elements.
  • At the Child Protection Week launch, 250 children from the Frances Baard District attended. Brigadier Sipho Kheswa of SAPS stressed the importance of children reporting abuse and parents teaching them to be vigilant. The event underscored the necessity of a coordinated effort among provincial and national departments to protect children.
  • Minister Lindiwe Zulu and the Film and Publications Board addressed the dangers of cybercrime and child sexual abuse material (CSM). Campaigns and Outreach Coordinator Sisonke Seti emphasised educating children on protecting themselves online, reinforcing the country’s commitment to child safety 30 years into its democracy.

Children in South Africa live in a society with a Constitution that has the highest regard for their rights and the equality and dignity of everyone. Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic value but also an obligation set out in Article 28 of the South African Constitution.

“Many children are targeted by sexual predators, criminal gangs and drug sellers precisely because they are vulnerable. As a society, we need to be more diligent and more active in protecting our children from these and other dangers,” stated President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

At the launch of Child Protection Week, 250 children from the Frances Baard District Municipality attended the event with parents and community members, the resounding theme centred on the safety of the children. The plea to all in the room was to report Child Abuse. 

“Report your pain!” – a statement made by Minister Zulu, set the tone for the discussions that took place. Brigadier, Sipho Kheswa (SAPS) encouraged the children to work with the elders and the law enforcement officers in creating a better community. To the point made by Minister Zulu, he expressed the need for children to speak out and report crimes. “The children must be thought to be whistleblowers of their abuse. Parents must also be capacitated to teach this to the children from home and it must be echoed at schools.”

The Brigadier reiterated the sentiments of the officials on the need for the spirit of collaboration with the plea, “There are systems in place to address issues affecting children and these must be monitored from all different points, provincial office to national. The responsibilities of different departments must be outlined and monitored by the Provincial office. Protection of every child is everyone’s responsibility.”

Opelontle Mothibi, a 17-year-old from Thabane High School, expressed gratitude to the Department of Social Department and all who enlightened them today. “I don’t think the protection of children has been prioritised but I believe that after today’s session and the noise that’s been made about Child Protection, it will be better. It was a nice day, we managed to get more information on things we didn’t know and we will spread all the information on how the government is helping us to others,” said Opelontle.

In today’s world where young people have internet access, they have become prey and cyber crimes. Minister Zulu told parents in the room to remember that the children of today are not the children of yesterday. The presence of the Film and Publications Board, in support of the launch of Child Protection Week, was to raise awareness and educate children on Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSM). Sisonke Seti, the Campaigns and Outreach Coordinator, highlighted the need to empower the children with information they can use to protect themselves. “No one is supposed to be taking pictures and sharing any images of a person under the age of 18 as that constitutes to creating child sexual abuse material”. 

We have come a very long way as a country, the children of South Africa have a voice. 

Protecting children 30 years on is in the hands of us all.

 

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