NATIONAL NEWS - The 22nd National Child Protection Week takes place this week. It aims to raise awareness of the rights of children.
This year’s campaign will be observed under the theme ‘Let Us Protect All Children to Move South Africa Forward’.
“The 6th administration will work hard to accelerate efforts to protect and promote children’s rights,”
was the message of new Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu in response to receiving the Children's Manifesto from representatives of the children at the launch of the 2019 Child Protection week at the Chris Hani Sports Complex in Orange Farm on Sunday 2 June.
Several issues were raised in the Manifesto, including:
- Protection from bullying, corporal punishment, harmful traditional practices and substance abuse;
- Child developmental rights, poor quality of education, teenage pregnancy and safe learner transport;
- High crime rates, drug abuse, lack of educational resources, school dropout rates and high teenage pregnancies;
- Poor education infrastructure and the lack of study material;
- Child-headed homes where children have to play the role of parent.
They also pleaded for the implementation of the National Plan of Action for Children.
Shaun Masoga, President of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament, who presented the Manifesto to the Minister, said society should identify and uproot the risks children faced daily. “In instances where children’s rights are violated, the Children’s Act provides measures that should be applied. Children should be given an opportunity to reach their full potential. They must be nurtured and grow up in a protected environment,” he said.
Zulu was of the opinion that seven days of Child Protection Week were not long enough to address all the challenges facing children in the country, and that she would lobby for a month-long programme.
Addressing the children, she said they also have a responsibility: “Your responsibility is to listen to your parents, listen to your teachers… to be responsible from home to communities and streets where you live. But the greater responsibility rests with the parents, communities, churches, NGOs and all adults to protect children. That responsibility we should collectively take on so we can say that the children of today are the future,” she added.
According to Gauteng Social Development MEC Thuliswa Nkabinde-Khawe, unemployment and poverty were big contributors to the vulnerability of children. “Let’s give them their rights, let’s give them a plate of food, let’s give them shelter,” she said.
The official closing of the Child Protection Week will take place on Sunday 9 June in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga.
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