The Social Justice Committee (SJC), a sub structure of the Federations of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) that focuses on youth and gender advocacy, fully supports the letter and spirit of the Child Protection Week that has been launched by the Department of Social Development. The theme of this year’s campaign is “Let us all protect children to move South Africa forwards”.
A study that has been conducted by the South African Police Services (SAPS)’s People Search and Rescue Unit shows that one child goes missing in South Africa every 6 hours at the same time that the SAPS’s Child Protection Services estimates that one in three girls and one in five boys suffer sexual exploitation in one form or another and that more than 2000 children are murdered each year in South Africa.
Recent statistics from Network against Child Labour have revealed that there are at least 400 000 child labourers in the country and that at least more than 247 900 of these children have been forced into child prostitution. A Report published by the United States Information Services last year identifies South Africa as either a source, transit or destination for men, women and children that have been trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation. Experts believe this situation is a major contributor to the number of children missing around the country. Already 18 cases have been reported countrywide this month alone of missing children who were last been seen going to school; twelve of these children have been reported missing in Gauteng while two cases each have been reported for the Western and Eastern Cape, and KZN respectively, according to the New Age newspaper.
Statistics by Missing Children South Africa also show that 181 children were reported missing while 145 of them were found between April and May last year. Gauteng had the highest number of these missing children with 76 cases reported, followed by the Western Cape with 69 cases. Although statistics are still very few and far in-between, available figures show that at least 58 percent of South African pupils have been victims of bullies at school.
“Bullying is unacceptable and we can no longer ignore the fact that our children are being bullied at school and on social media. This is unacceptable as bullying can be highly dangerous,” says Dorothy Ndhlovu, FEDUSA Vice President, Social Justice and Gender.
Ndhlovu called on all South Africa to protect children and ensure their safety and reminded the nation that section 28 (1) (b) of the Bill of Rights asserts that every child has the right to family care when removed from the family environment, basic nutrition, shelter, education, basic health care services and social services and to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and or degradation.
“FEDUSA believes that despite efforts by the government and all citizens to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation, many children still remain vulnerable. The 2017 child protection week coincides with recent events where innocent children have been kidnapped and murdered for muthi, “she said.
In its 6th National Congress in November last year, under the heading: “Escalating violence in schools needs urgent and effective attention from education authorities”, FEDUSA resolved that:
“National education authorities should establish a comprehensive policy to monitor and remedy all aspects of violence that occur in schools, and parents and other support institutions such as government health and safety authorities, should be an integral part of the policy. All parties must be properly trained in the implementation of the policy that is, they must be supportive and not part of the trauma that attends acts of violence,” the 6th National Congress resolved.
“Every school must have its own policy for dealing with violence directly related to the national policy; implementation of both the national and the school-based policy must be consistent and education authorities have a direct responsibility to provide a safe teaching and learning environment that they cannot shirk, in this regard”.
“We therefore call on the government to urgently establish a national police network that will protect our children against all forms of violence and abuse as we say that enough is enough with the killing of innocent children they are the future of our society and country, let us protect the vulnerable in our society not to suffer any abuse. Let us work together to create a safe and healthier society for our future leaders to live in peace and harmony,” concluded Ndhlovu.
FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry. See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.
For interviews please contact:
FEDUSA Vice President Social Justice and Gender
Cell: 083 800-5524
FEDUSA Vice President Youth and Development
Cell: 083 263 2566
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
Cell: +27 796 962 625