'Children’s rights should not just be recognised on special days'
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Cape Town - Children’s rights activists are calling for an end to violence against children, ahead of Child Protection Week.
Western Cape Child Commissioner Christina Nomdo said children’s rights were interdependent and indivisible, and children should enjoy the right to be protected from harm, the right to the provision of their basic needs and to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
Nomdo said this should happen every day, “not only during special days like designated child protection weeks”.
The annual Child Protection Week campaign, which raises awareness of the rights of children, is expected to start on Sunday.
It is led by the Department of Social Development (DSD), in partnership with government departments and civil society organisations that provide child protection services.
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said there were many challenges facing children in the province, including the impact that Covid-19 has had on their physical and emotional well-being.
Fernandez said the threats to children was often inside their homes, or from their extended family and friends; therefore, it would take the whole of society to protect vulnerable children.
“We all have a responsibility to keep an eye on children within our homes, extended families and communities. If you notice something is amiss, you need to speak up and report your suspicions to either the police, nearest DSD office, or designated child protection agency,” she said.
Fernandez said the department would continue fulfilling its role as mandated by the Children’s Act. One of the interventions was the Eye on the Child programme, where a network of volunteers was recruited, vetted and trained to act as an early warning system to identify at-risk children, and refer these cases to social workers.
Missing Children SA’s national co-ordinator, Bianca van Aswegen, said child safety was of utmost importance. She said education has been a vital part in keeping children safe.
“More educational programmes need to be implemented in our schools and communities to educate our children on safety. More can be done in fighting against human trafficking that poses a danger to our people,” said Van Aswegen.
She said it was vital that people were trained on how to prevent someone falling victim to human trafficking.
“Our children are our future, and if we do not keep them safe, there will be no future for them,” said Van Aswegen.