Do you know where your child is?
Over the long weekend (31 December – 02 January), revelers rang in the New Year on beaches across the Western Cape. As expected, law enforcement officers had their hands full ensuring order in these public spaces, especially where alcohol was involved. An unfortunate consequence to these “festivities” was the number of children separated from their parents or guardians.
Worryingly, this happens every year. The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) urges parents, guardians, and adults to keep a close eye on children when they are in public spaces, especially congested places like beaches. Let us ensure children are safe and protected at all times.
The DSD’s social workers in different areas supported children who were left unattended at beaches, seemingly being separated from, or forgotten by their parents/guardians after a day at the beach.
In high traffic areas, like Monwabisi, Mnandi, Camps Bay, Strandfontein, Muizenberg and Strand beaches, over 240 children were separated from their families. Many of these incidents occurred in Strand.
This is unacceptable and places children in extreme danger. Fortunately, DSD social workers and City of Cape Town staff were able to reunite most of the young ones with their families. Some children who were not collected timeously had to be placed in places of safety. As per legislation, the parents/guardians had to follow legal processes to be reunified with their children.
It is the responsibility of caregivers to ensure minors in their groups are always under a watchful eye while at the beach, so everyone can leave together in the same way they arrived.
If caregivers get separated from children for whatever reason in a public space like the beach, please approach a law enforcement officer or South African Police Services (SAPS) member for assistance.
A few tips for caregivers on how to keep children safe:
- Ensure that your child knows their own full names, your full names, address, and a contact number. If they are lost, this information can be vital in quickly tracing the parents or caregivers.
- Always know where your children are, and who they are with. When leaving children with other adults – whether they are family, friends, neighbours – ask them to inform you if they intend leaving the premises, for example, a trip to the beach.
- Ensure that your child, particularly young children, are supervised at all times. Very young children need constant supervision, as accidents can happen very quickly. Whether it’s near a body of water, out at a park, or inside a house, please always be vigilant.
Helpful contact numbers:
- Gender Based Violence Command Centre: Call 0800 428 428 or dial *120*786#
- Childline: 116
- Stop Gender Violence helpline: 0800 150 150
- SAPS: 08600 10111
- Report any abuse of children, women, the elderly, or any other vulnerable person to the Department of Social Development’s toll-free number: 0800 220 250.
- Department of Social Development Email: GBV365DAYS@westerncape.gov.za / SD.CustomerCare@westerncape.gov.za or visit the department’s website: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/dept/social-development
- Find out more about our safety services for women and children by sending an SMS with the word INFO to 35 395.
Media Liaison Officer
Office of MEC Sharna Fernandez
Department of Social Development
Tel: 084 775 2975