NATIONAL NEWS - The Department of Social Development has called on all parents to play an active role in the lives of their children.
The call came as the country observed the National Child Protection Week campaign, under the theme “Let us all Protect Children during COVID-19 and beyond.”
In a statement on Friday, the department noted that many children in South Africa live without the support of their parents, and this compromises their right to protection and care.
“Children have a right to both parents, irrespective of whether the parents are separated or divorced, and regardless of who has custody of the children. The upbringing of children should be the full responsibility of both parents unless a court determines otherwise,” the department said.
The department highlighted that the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, promotes the active participation of biological fathers in their children’s lives through the provisions, including parental responsibilities and rights; co-exercise of parental responsibilities and rights; and parental responsibilities and rights of unmarried fathers.
The provisions also include parental responsibilities and rights agreements; parenting plans; and care and contact.
White Paper on Families
In its strategic priority of promoting healthy family lives, the department also noted that the White Paper on Families strengthens the provisions of the Children’s Act and promotes responsible parenting.
These include amongst other aspects, responsible co-parenting by both mothers and fathers, enhancing parents’ ability and capability to protect children from exposure to, and participation in activities that may be detrimental to their physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and sexual well-being.
As part of encouraging fathers’ involvement in their children’s upbringing, the White Paper proposes the following measures:
- Elaborate or revise current laws and social policies that restrict fathers from being involved in their children’s lives and replace them with those that create an environment where fathers have the opportunity to care for, engage with, and support their children;
- Ensure that fathers are treated equally by the courts in custody decisions;
- Use the formal education system and informal information sources such as the media to construct and maintain social norms and positive attitudes regarding the roles of fathers in the lives of children; and
- Ensure more effective enforcement of maintenance payments by absent fathers.
National Child Protection Week is commemorated annually to raise awareness of the rights of children, as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children's Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).
The campaign is led by the department in partnership with key government departments and civil society organisations rendering child protection services. – SAnews.gov.za