Cape Town - The fatal shooting of a two-year-old from Belhar and the drowning of a 10-year old on Christmas Day have sparked concerns over child safety during this festive season.
Uthmaan Taliep was killed after he was caught in gang crossfire on Monday evening while a 14-year old from Lavender Hill died under the same circumstances.
The 10-year old boy drowned at the Camps Bay tidal pool on Saturday. Over the weekend, City lifeguards also attended to three non-fatal drownings involving children.
ChildSafe CEO Thilda Nel said while the long school holiday season was a time for children to enjoy the warm weather, the period also brought a harvest of injuries and fatalities to children as they were likely to investigate new “risky” objects and areas.
Nel said child injuries that were prevalent during this period included drownings (fatal and non-fatal), car accidents, poison indigestion, and head injuries. She said 80% of these happened at home as more children were not supervised as they would when they are at school.
With road crashes in South Africa being the second leading cause of death for children aged 5-14 years, Nel encouraged parents and caregivers to actively supervise their children and be extra vigilant, and use age-appropriate car seats for children which she said reduced fatalities by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
“Parents and caregivers must be responsible when consuming alcohol because numerous injuries to children occur when caregivers are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol consumption impairs self-control and adequate supervision of children cannot take place.
“Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks.
Most traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, therefore, please use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a party,” she said.
Molo Songololo director Patric Solomon said poor recreational, sports, and cultural activities and resources in townships for children and teenagers resulted in risk-taking behaviour and children roaming around. He said this increased their vulnerability and put them at risk of abuse and violence, including sexual abuse.
“Lack of provincial and municipal prevention and intervention strategies and services, parental and community support and organised recreational, sport and cultural activities and child supervision programmes during the festive season increase child vulnerability,” he said.
Solomons said community safety and policing activities must focus on prevention and early intervention strategies and programmes to ensure child safety.
“Promoting and strengthening a holistic community child safety approach, programmes and activities must include everyone; children, parents, community members, service providers, municipalities, City and provincial administration’s and departments,” said Solomons.