By Cuma Pantshwa 

  • Minister Lindiwe Zulu launches Child Protection Week in Kimberley, emphasising the theme “Protecting South African Children 30 years on,” and addressing the challenges faced by children and families in the Frances Baard District, where a third of the population consists of children aged 0-17.
  • 17-year-old Chareez James, Child Provincial Ambassador, urged adults and leaders to respect and care for the youth, highlighting issues like child trafficking, abuse, and neglect that plague the area, and advocating for education and substance abuse prevention.
  • Pre-launch activities revealed significant concerns from children and parents, including mistrust in authorities, abuse and neglect awareness, and challenges with child behaviour and discipline, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts to protect and empower the children of Frances Baard.

In 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international agreement on childhood that widely called on leaders, businesses, and communities around the world to take action on protecting and ensuring the welfare and protection of every child.

Minister Lindiwe Zulu officially launched Child Protection Week in Kimberley at the Mittah Sperere Convention Centre. This campaign began in 1997 under the then-called Department of Welfare and Population. Under the theme; “Protecting South Africa’s Children 30 years on,” the minister and the dignitaries are expected to engage the community in addressing the challenges faced by children and families in the area, assess the interventions and services the Department has implemented and ensure they benefit from the commitments made to children with regards to their survival, protection, development, growth, and participation.

Organisations involved in the programme include The Department of Social Development (DSD), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency (NDA).

Frances Baard District is an area in which a third of the population consists of children (aged 0-17) with the majority of children from the black population group (70%).  Male children account for 34.7% of the total male population, while female children account for 31.9% of the total female population. 

17-year-old Chareez James, the Child Provincial Ambassador and one of the programme directors for the day’s launch shared her message to adults and leaders: respect the youth as much as you want to be respected and take care of us. “I would like to see the children of the Northern Cape and South Africa at large flourish and be the best version of themselves. Let’s excel in our education, refrain from substance abuse, and become our own future leaders.” Chareez highlighted some of the social ills plaguing the area, saying, “What hurts me the most is the negligence of young children, child trafficking, child abuse, and children being molested here.”

Before the day of the official launch of Child Protection Month, Deputy Minister Hendrietta Ipeleng Bogopane-Zulu and Minister Lindiwe Zulu conducted build-up activities with children and parents. This was some of the feedback received from the pre-engagements with the children in the area: 

  • Children are not taken seriously by their teachers when they report issues of abuse
  • Children are vulnerable to human trafficking and body mutilation 
  • Children were not aware that deliberate neglect is a form of abuse. 
  • Children felt there is mistrust in SAPS
  • Teenagers attempting to commit suicide

In partnership with stakeholders, during these precursor activities, parents raised their concerns citing the following challenges and frustrations: 

  • Children displaying uncontrollable behaviour
  • Parents are frustrated as the rights of children prevent them from using corporal punishment to discipline their children
  • The abuse of social grants and not using it for the benefit of the children
  • Concerns by parents not knowing who their children are talking to on social media
  • Children being bullied by teachers
  • Children not speaking out about the challenges they face with substance abuse, crime and mental health
  • Lack of understanding of issues of care and contact

Stakeholders from civil society, and various government departments including the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Services (SAPS), along with Minister Zulu, will join hands with parents and children to ensure the protection of the children of Frances Baard. “Let us work together so that we are in a position to help each other. It takes all of us to build a proper country. We need you to join hands with us and play your role. When we leave here today, we need to all know what it is that we are going to do,” said Councillor Nonyameko Shushu of the Frances Baard District during her welcoming remarks to the children.

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