Child Protection Week: New study findings released by MEC Fritz
To commemorate the ongoing national Child Protection Week, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, released the new national study findings into child abuse, violence and neglect.
The study is titled “Sexual victimisation of children in South Africa” and is a partnership between the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, and the University of Cape Town. It provides the first-ever nationally representative figures on child maltreatment.
The study will be crucial in assisting the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) to continuously improve our Child and Families Programme, which receives our highest funding allocation at R615.1-million. The study itself drew on two data sources: a population survey that was conducted with a sample of 15- to 17-year-old adolescents recruited nationally from schools (4 086 participants), as well as households (5 631 participants). Some of the key findings out of the study reveal that;
- In schools 35.4% (or one in every three) of young people had experienced some form of sexual abuse at some point in their lives.
- Whilst in households, 26.3% (more than a quarter of young people interviewed) reported having experienced some form of sexual abuse.
The report says “this means that a total of at least 784 967 young people in South Africa have been the victims of sexual abuse by the age of 17 years,” and most concerning is that, “a total of 351 214 cases of sexual abuse had occurred among 15- to 17-year-olds in the past year alone”.
In his address, Minister Fritz expressed alarm at these figures and underpinned the stress it placed on social workers tasked with responding to these incidents. “DSD has more than doubled the number of social workers within the department from 457 social workers in the 2010/11 year to 967 this year, and our social workers who cover our poorer areas, such as the Cape Flats areas, can tell you about the trauma they have to deal with children”.
The study goes on to provide more data on the prevalence of sexual abuse, including the gender differences. The study also revealed that sexual abuse is slightly more likely to occur once in a young person’s lifetime, however in 40% of these cases, it occurs two or more times.
With regards to neglect and violence, the picture is a grim one. In the school survey, 42.2% of respondents had experienced some form of maltreatment (whether sexual, physical, emotional or neglect), while 82.0% reported experiencing some form of victimisation (whether criminal victimisation or exposure to family or community violence).
The Western Cape DSD has placed great emphasis on the delivery of services to children. Our interventions in all aspects of child development are well funded, from Early Childhood Development (ECD) allocated R290-million, to Child Protection Services allocated R200-million, and Child & Youth Care Centres allocated R284-million for this financial year.
However no amount of resources, financial and human, or improved service delivery efforts can be truly successful without parents playing their role in the raising and protection of children. We continue to call on parents, especially fathers, to take responsibility for their families and children.
The public can report any incidents of child neglect or abuse at any DSD local office or via the DSD hotline 0800 220 250.
Spokesperson for Albert Fritz, Minister of Social Development
Western Cape Government
7th floor, 14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8000
Tel : (021) 483 9217
Cell : 076 083 6543
Email : Sihle.Ngobese@westerncape.gov.za