Child Protection is Everyone's Business
Dr Ivan Meyer, Minister of Social Development, has noted with grave concern the daily reports of acts of violence and abuse against children. These range from physical and mental abuse, to their kidnapping, rape and murder. Tragically, about 80 % of the abuse and murder of children is committed by people known to them and the community. It has been said that a society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable. Under these circumstances we will be found seriously wanting, but we have to do something to turn the situation around. Our starting point must be the family.
We do however know that all over the world, families are at increasing risk and are disintegrating because the burden of responsibility is quite simply overwhelming. Research on families in the Western Cape reveal that families are important and that 96 % of people live in some sort of family grouping. However, the research also reveals that many families lack the resources to adequately care for their members, struggle under the huge burden of debt and that these factors combine to make families more at risk to social pathologies such as substance abuse or committing crime.
The Department of Social Development, together with its partners in the non governmental sector offer an extensive range of services for the care and protection of children and families. These include 24 hour child protection services, foster care and residential care services, neighbourhood response programmes such as "Eye on the Child" and ward-based safety parents, a 24 hour telephone helpline and after school care and early childhood development programmes. More recently we have shifted the focus to public awareness and education which places the emphasis on balancing rights with responsibilities, as well as programmes that preserve, strengthen and build the resilience of families.
Despite our best efforts, these interventions, are not having the desired effect. What has become abundantly clear is that if the majority of perpetrators are known to the children and communities, we must increasingly focus on parents and families taking more personal responsibility, with the support of neighbours and communities. More importantly, we need to create an environment for this to happen, for each one of us to feel, believe and give effect to the idea that "your child is my child".
Meyer said: "To address this very serious matter which has major implications for our future, I will be hosting a Children's Summit in October which is also social development month. Between now and October, we will be entering into high level preparatory engagements with key stakeholders. Bold, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking is required. The end result must be an interlocking system in which families, formal and informal networks and services work together to restore the family as the main agent in protecting its members, meeting their needs and promoting their potential.
The Department of Social Services and the Government of the Western Cape and I, have the commitment to make this a province where children and families will grow and thrive, secure in the knowledge that there is a network of support to guide families in the difficult task of raising children even during adverse circumstances. I encourage you to join hands with me. Let us take individual and collective responsibility for investing in our future. Let us support families and communities in the difficult and challenging task of caring for and protecting children"
For further information:
Media Liaison Officer
Tel: 021 483 5445
Cell: 083 280 5535