National Children's Day 2015
National Children’s Day aims to celebrate and highlight the progress being made towards the realisation and promotion of rights of children. The day is celebrated on 7 November.
Children’s rights are an important part of our Constitution and have been included in Section 28 of the Bill of Rights.
Children are among the most vulnerable members of society and need special protection. They are dependent on their parents, families and the government for their protection and well-being. The best interests of a child is always the main consideration when it comes to any matter affecting him or her.
In the Constitution, section 28 of the Bill of Rights deals directly with the rights of children. In this section "child" means a person under the age of 18 years. A child’s best interests are the most important in every matter concerning the child. Section 28 states that every child has the right:
- to a name and a nationality from birth,
- to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from their family environment,
- to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services,
- to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation,
- to be protected from exploitative labour practices,
- not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that,
- are inappropriate for a person of the child’s age; or
- place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development,
- not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under
- section 12 and 35 (relating to freedom and security of the person and rights of arrested, detained and accused persons), the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be,
- kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years, and
- treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child’s age.
- to have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state, and at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise result; and
- not to be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.
Other legislation protecting children:
- The Child Care Act of 1983, which makes it a criminal offence if a person who has to maintain a child doesn't provide the child with clothes, housing and medical care.
- The Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997, which makes it illegal to employ a child under the age of 15.
- The Domestic Violence Act of 1998, which defines different forms of domestic violence and explains how a child can get a protection order against the abuser.
- The Films and Publications Act of 1996, which protects children from exploitation in child pornography.
Legislation passed in response to a Constitutional Court ruling - in this case, the Fraser Judgment - is the Natural Fathers of Children Born out of Wedlock Act of 1997. It gives natural unmarried fathers - including those whose marriages are not recognised by the state, for example Muslim and Hindu marriages - the statutory right to go to court to ask for access, custody or guardianship of their children. The interests of the children are seen as most important in deciding on custody or access to children.
Please report any abuse or negligence by contacting the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) hotline on 0800 220 250.
Other useful contacts include:
Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) Programme
A MOD Centre is a hub for sport, recreation, arts and culture activities for learners in a community.