Child Protection Speech: Christ the Mediator Anglican Church
Dames en Menere Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for having me here today. Before I start, may we please take a moment of silence for all of those children who have suffered or/and continue to suffer from abuse.
I happened to have stumbled upon a title of an article the other day and I could not happen to agree anymore, “Our nation can no longer continue to be at war with its own children”.
I know this may not be the greatest way to start off a speech but dames and menere the truth must be told.
The social fabric of our society has been torn open by a cycle of violence, sexual abuse, the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and a general breakdown of the family unit.
We read every day about babies being dumped or murdered by mothers who were themselves dumped by the baby's father a few months before, about children that have been raped and abused and about families torn apart by the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
For many people reading about these horrors that afflict our society is bad enough, but you are actually going to be right there, dealing with them firsthand.
In the Western Cape last year, there were 7075 cases of sexual offences reported last year of which 200 were in Mitchell’s Plain… Only three other places in the Province recorded higher cases of sexual offences last year.
Yet in such difficult and tough circumstances we have those people around our communities that are always at the frontline of taking a stand against the injustices being done to our children...
The protection of children could not be more understated than anything else in the world. That is why I am here today, to acknowledge those heroines and heroes, that continue to serve in the child protection field.
Who continue to stand steady and act as invisible pillars or rather unsung guardians that keep our communities standing.
Although working in positions in order to protect children offers child protection workers many personal rewards, however, it is also demanding, emotionally charged, and stressful.
All of our child protection workers here today are know that he effects of violence, neglect and abuse against children can and in most cases last a lifetime.
Our daughters tend to internalise the violence and experience instances of depression and anxiety which increases their risk of further victimisation, while
Our sons play out their experience through increased risk taking, aggressive behaviour and drug abuse…
The truth is, we cannot expect our children to be any better than ourselves or stand a chance of living decent lives themselves, if we remain silent, if we simply watch our children suffer while we do nothing.
The culture of violence in our communities at large, especially in areas affected by entrenched gang violence and recruitment of children to commit violent crimes is breaking-down our homes.
All of us are fully aware that our children also learn from watching the adults around them. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to become neglectful or abusive parents. It is therefore vital to intervene early to break the intergenerational cycle of violence and abuse that keeps strangling our communities.
The Western Cape Government has a number of programs in place aimed at children and the youth, including the After-School Game Changer project, which allows pupils to participate in after school activities in order to improve educational outcomes and minimize risk taking behaviours. Over 80 000 learners participated in this programme regularly in the past year.
- The Provincial Department of Social Development has established youth cafes across the province, which record around 10 000 visits per month. These Café’s are tailored to offer opportunities for young people broadly referred to as “NEETs”, namely young people not in employment, education or training.
- The Department of Social Development has since 2009, quadrupled the number of youths benefiting from youth development services.
- Over 75 000 children received placement in government funded Early Childhood Development Centres in 2018.
I ask of you to trust your instinct and talk to somebody about your concerns. A social worker, teacher, or nurse or anyone else you trust and you think can provide you with good advice. Get information about the child’s situation to try and confirm your suspicion. With that information you can then contact one of our nearest local office of the Department of Social Development or the Police.
Although it is only this week on the calendar that is granted the title Child Protection Week, the protection of children is something that must be driven all year round.
Ladies and gentlemen we cannot afford to become cynical; we want you to keep your youthful idealism for as long as possible and to be the hope and opportunity our people so desperately need.
Although sometimes it may seem like no one appreciates your work, always remember that there are many of us that treasure your commitment to our country.
In order for us to win this battle, we all need to keep doing our best to fight child abuse and neglect.