Child Protection Month: Department of Social Development raise awareness about child abuse

May is Child Protection Month. File Picture: Independent Newspapers

May is Child Protection Month. File Picture: Independent Newspapers

Published May 2, 2024


The month of May is Child Protection Month and the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) will be having awareness initiatives on child abuse and the preventative measures offered.

Western Cape MEC for DSD, Sharna Fernandez said this period is also an opportunity to place the spotlight on the rights of children as enshrined in Section 28 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

“Some adults forget that children have rights too and it is the responsibility of institutions like the Western Cape DSD to step in when these rights are infringed upon. Section 28 states that every child has the right ‘to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation’.

“Parents and guardians, you are responsible for your children, and where you may need support, the team in DSD can assist,” Fernandez said.

She said there were many cases of parents or guardians letting children down by abusing, neglecting, or abandoning them.

“Between April 2023 and December 2023, the Department recorded 2,603 cases of deliberate neglect, 2,801 cases of emotional and physical abuse, and 2,415 cases of sexual abuse, which required the completion of a Form 22 as per the requirement of the Children’s Act.

“When incidents like these occur, the DSD staff or Designated Child Protection Organisations step in as per the Children’s Act to protect the wellbeing and dignity of these vulnerable children,” Fernandez said.

Form 22 is a formal way to report child abuse in any form to the Department of Social Development, the South African Police Service (SAPS, or a designated child protection organisation.

“But it is unacceptable that we have parents, guardians, and caregivers who callously ignore the rights of a child. All children deserve love, care, and protection. And government cannot do this alone. When children are failed by their parents or guardians, the whole society needs to step in and support them.

“What we need is more kind and caring members of society raising their hands to become safety or foster parents. If you can give a vulnerable child a safe and caring home, I encourage you to contact the Department for more information today,” Fernandez said

By the end of March 2024, there were a total of 40,043 children in the foster care system in the Western Cape.

If a child has been abused, deliberately neglected, or exploited, they may be placed in foster care following a court order. This is to provide temporary care and protection until the child and be reunited with family.

Safety parents also provide temporary care for no more than six children, unless the children are siblings, for up to 90 days.

Emergency parents provide temporary care for children for between 24 and 48 hours.

The department offers a range of services to assist families and ensure the protection of children, such as early prevention and intervention programmes.

If you are a child or a parent who needs help, or you’d like information on becoming a foster or safety parent, please call the DSD toll-free number 0800 220 250 or visit your nearest DSD local office.

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