Saartjie Baartman Centre staffers hold a silent protest outside their premises in Athlone to stand against child abuse. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - To highlight the fact that 279 children were murdered last year in the province, a silent protest was held on Monday at the Saartjie Baartman Centre.

The protest was to mark Child Protection Week from June 2 to 9. Kayla Horne, social worker at the centre, said: “As part of the child protection unit, 218 children participated in the education and prevention programme, 80 children went for therapeutic counselling, 49 children went for trauma counselling and 97 children went for risk management assessments where they’re asked questions about abuse.”

UCT’s children institute said that children who are abused learn to tolerate violence “and are at an increased risk of poor mental health (eg anxiety and depression), drug and alcohol abuse, risky sexual behaviours and HIV, behaviour problems (eg aggression, delinquency) and poor social functioning. In the Birth to Twenty Plus study, violent behaviour was reported by more than 65% of primary school children, rising to 89% of adolescents.

“It’s not just severe abuse and beating that lead to negative consequences.

“All forms of violence, including smacking or spanking, can make children depressed, angry and anxious,” said Dr Chandre Gould from the Institute of Security Studies.

Siliziwe Mbambo, social worker at the Saartjie Baartman Centre, said that common cases include children being exposed to family violence and not knowing how to handle the situations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised gender-based violence as “a crisis tearing our society apart” during the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide last November.

Director of the Saartjie Baartman Centre Bernadine Bachar said that the appointment of a child commissioner would be key for the effectiveness of addressing violence towards children.

“This is a national crisis we are dealing with and we need to do it together.”

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus