GAUTENG MEC FOR HEALTH URGES PARENTS AND SOCIETY TO PROTECT EVERY CHILD FROM ALL FORMS OF HARM
Today Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa visited NthabisengThuthuzela Care Centre in Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital as part of profiling the relevant services as we mark the National Child Protection week .
The National Child Protection week is observed annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Children’s Act of 2005 as amended by the Children’s Amendment Act 41 of 2007 and the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008. South Africa has drafted legislation which is based on the united convention of the rights of the child, the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child and the constitution.
The theme for 2017 is : #save me don’t hurt me.
This campaign aims :
- To ensure the safety, well-being, care and protection of children through an integrated multi-disciplinary approach.
- To protect children from violence, exploitation, child abuse and neglect.
- To improve inter-sectoral coordination and communication between identified child protection stakeholders in terms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- Improve management of child abuse, neglect and exploitation cases by the relevant stakeholders.
- Improve information sharing, capacity building and awareness raising of child protection issues amongst various stakeholders.
Kids are our future and their dreams are that of our society. A nation is all about our children, and children who have a dream for a better life and future. All adults have a responsibility to protect children so that they can develop optimally , be happy and have bright and productive future. It’s important for kids, girls in particular, to be mindful of the safety tips and most importantly not to trust strangers. Children need to be continuously alerted not to trust strangers and to report adults who make uncomfortable gestures. The youth, also need to be alert of those who lure them into instant gratification benefits like ‘blessers’ , drug peddlers , drinking etc . Not only are there health related risks like pregnancy , HIV, cancers , alcoholism and mental health problems but also possibilities of being victims of human trafficking, abused and even killed.
Most people who harm children are well known to them or close to their families, hence parents and guardians have a responsibility to always watch the behaviour of children and their surrounding. These perpetrators like to threaten children not to tell anyone about their experience.
The department of health has seen over 5700 cases of Child Sexual Assaults year. From the services provided we can deduce that:
- Our child bear a very high burden of abuse
- The Children’s Act has helped in breaking the silence and getting help
- The statistics remain the tip of an iceberg as perpetrators are commonly known to the children
- Parents and guardians need to take time to communicate and listen to children
Our Government had, through the Child Protection Act, put the responsibility on all professionals in the SAPS, health system, social workers, justice system etc. to take action if they suspect that a child is vulnerable. The act is taking effect and more survivors are identified, counselled and assisted to access justice.
It’s important for children to know that even if we are empowering them, the responsibility of protecting them still lie with their parents.
“I’m very concerned that crimes against children have reached epidemic proportions in our country and we seriously need to look at new and better ways of intercepting the cycle of this pandemonium” said MEC Ramokgopa.
In the health system we have trained medico legal nurses who can also give evidence in court. The DNA database also helps is this regard in ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book. The departments commits to strengthening the services provided at the 26 victim support centres and the coordination with the social protection and justice systems
“We have really made progress but we should be ashamed that children are hurt by adults in the land of democracy where their rights are protected by the constitution and other related laws. Working with NGO’s, sister departments and research institutions we need to understand the profile of the abusers and be able to more preventative .” added MEC Ramokgopa.
Issued by Gauteng Department of Health