Cape Town - With the escalating number of murders and attempted murders of children, as contained in the latest crime statistics, civil society organisations have called for the inclusion of child safety and self-defence in the school curriculum.
The statistics released last week showed an increase in murders of children under the ages of 17, standing at 306, during the first three months of this year, which is an increase of 37.2% from the same time last year.
Attempted murders were committed against 331 children, a decrease of 6.8% from the same time last year, and 1937 cases of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm were reported, which was an increase of 12.7% from last year.
On the Cape Flats children have found themselves on the receiving end of the continuing gangster shootings where they get caught in the crossfire. A 15-year-old boy was gunned down in Bonteheuwel in February in a gang-related incident.
In the same month, a 2-year-old toddler survived after he was shot five times while playing in front of his yard.
Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said the recently released statistics on child murders were a reminder of the need to implement stronger measures to protect children at household, school and community levels, where the majority of the crimes were committed.
“The violence perpetrated on children is a direct mirror reflection of the state of gender-based violence and femicide affecting our society. We also want to appeal to our justice system to impose the harshest sentence on those who are waging this war on children, and we urge police to enforce the law as the law is our greatest tool to end this scourge,” he said.
Fight Back SA founder Nicole Mirkin said while some could argue that self-defence was tantamount to militarising women and children, she said this was to equip them with the skills they needed to change the outcome of a violent situation.
“At this point, self-defence training should be considered a basic human right in a country plagued by the levels of sexual violence we are currently facing,” Mirkin said.
Action Society media liaison officer Kaylynn Palm said more needed to be done to protect children.
“We ask, why were 4 800 children victims of abuse in the Western Cape between April and December last year? It’s worrying. What about those who have not come forward. Areas where gang violence is rife need to be made safer, by adding more police resources. While government deals with resources, policies, and other law matters, it is vital that communities play their part,” she said.