File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The majority of African children cannot access appropriate child protection or health-care services.

Despite progressive legislation and pockets of excellence in law enforcement, health, judicial and social services, effective responses to child protection keep missing the mark.

This is the view of SA Council of Social Service Professions president Dr Maria Mabetoa, who is also the chairperson of an upcoming conference which aims to highlight and address child trauma.

Experts from various countries will meet at the transdisciplinary conference which provides a platform for researchers, community members and child protection practitioners - including the Teddy Bear Foundation, UCT’s Children’s Institute and the UN Children’s Fund - to share knowledge.

Non-profit organisation Jelly Beanz, which supports children who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect, will co-host the four-day Regional African Conference at the City Hall, from Sunday until Wednesday, along with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).

Mabetoa said child abuse and exploitation of the African child continued to escalate despite measures taken to address this.

“We always say ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’; when in fact, it takes an entire continent. Many children lack access to justice within the current systems or experience secondary trauma in the very system that is meant to protect them,” she said.

Mabetoa said the conference would enable role-players to identify contributory factors that make children vulnerable to violence; explore indigenous methods of child care; and work towards improvements in the current approaches to prevent the scourge.

“We look forward to forging strong partnerships during our discussions and finding routes to reclaiming the space in which African children will once again feel safe and protected.”

Cape Times