Durban — Childline KZN acting director Adeshini Naicker said that she believed it was crucial for communities to engage and work together to help prevent child abuse.
Naicker said child abuse was a serious issue that was likely to have long-lasting physical, emotional and psychological effects on children.
“By the community getting involved, we can create a supportive and protective environment for children.
“As much as there are many organisations that fight child abuse around KZN, they are not there all the time.
“Community members are very much aware of what goes on in their communities. They can actually be our eyes and ears when we are not around. Community engagement also helps to raise awareness about the signs, symptoms and consequences of child abuse.”
When community members engage, Naicker added, they are able to do this on a regular basis, such as in their churches, in community meetings and in their senior citizens' groups.
“Yes, I do believe that it is very important for the community to get involved. And as we always say at Childline KZN, ‘It does take a community to raise a child’,” Naicker stated.
This comes after KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza issued a clarion call for communities to rally together and lead the way in child protection.
Launching child protection month, Khoza said: “This time we renew our commitment to protecting our children every day of the year. We must remain mindful of the critical role we all have in enriching the lives of our children. This period reminds us to recognise the importance of safeguarding children's rights and well-being as we reaffirm our commitment to creating a safer environment for every child.”
Khoza called on communities to speak up for and protect children. She further expressed deep concern about the increasing number of children experiencing harm from those who should have protected them.
“Children are the most vulnerable members of our society and it is our duty as adults, organisations and communities to shield them from harm. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges, including increased risks to children’s safety due to heightened stress levels, economic hardships and social isolation,” she said.
“We will collaborate with local government agencies, community organisations and dedicated individuals to create impactful change and advocate for the rights of children,” she said.
Meanwhile, IFP National Women’s Brigade chairperson Phumzile Buthelezi called on all stakeholders to work relentlessly to create safe spaces for children.
“We believe that child protection is a 365-day-a-year priority. Despite awareness and empowerment campaigns, many children are still victims of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation.
“Children should be nurtured, protected and be given all the tools needed to develop their skills and potential. With so many families living below the poverty line, this is becoming almost impossible,” Buthelezi said.
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