Child Protection Week: Sparing the rod doesn't spoil the child
“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 Chandré Gould, a senior researcher in the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
This is Child Protection Week and the Children’s Institute under the ISS is focusing on child violence.
“Children who are abused learn to tolerate violence and are at an increased risk of poor mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, risky sexual behaviours and HIV, externalising behaviour problems and poor social functioning,” said an Institute spokesperson.
According to the Birth to Twenty study, one of the largest and longest- running studies of children’s health and development in Africa, violent behaviour was reported by more than 65% of primary school children, rising to 89% of adolescents.
Earlier this year, videos of a 40-year-old caregiver repeatedly assaulting children at a Carletonville crèche went viral and sparked country-wide outrage.
“The incidents of violence against our children appear to be increasing and becoming more blatant. Are our perpetrators actually becoming more violent, or have they found gaps in our justice system?” asked Adeshni Naicker, Childline KZN’s operations manager.
“Although the child protection programme is a 365-day campaign, the week-long activities are implemented to create an even greater awareness of our children’s rights.
“It’s also a call for all South African citizens to stand together to ensure change and the safety of our future leaders,” she said.
Professor Shanaaz Mathews, director of the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, said abusers were stuck in a never-ending cycle of violence, and that violence against women and violence against children were inextricably linked.
The ISS has called on the new Parliament to give priority to the issue of ending violence against children.
The “Violence Against Children in South Africa: the cost of inaction to society and the economy” study published last year found that children who were abused went on to earn less money than those who were not.
It also found they were at a high risk of being incarcerated and being diagnosed with mental health disorders.
The study concluded that violence against children had significantly adverse consequences, not just emotionally and physically, but also for the country’s economy.