“Child Protection is everyone’s business” is often quoted by us at Give a Child a Family. But, what exactly does it mean?
Let’s start with child protection. It is the safeguarding of children from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation. We all know that millions of children in the world are at risk or are experiencing this kind of trauma in their homes, at school, in the community or in other places where they spend their time. But, who will keep them safe from harm? Who should be a part of their safety? This is where all of us come in. Remember, it is everyone’s business!
Many believe that child protection is the work of social workers and perhaps police officials, but that is far from enough. In the South African Children’s Act 38 of 2005 as amended, we can read that others are responsible too. To mention a few; dentists, immigration officials, legal practitioners, medical practitioners, teachers, ministers of religion, occupational therapists, traditional leaders, speech therapists and the list goes on. More or less, anyone who on reasonable grounds concludes that a child has been abused or neglected in any way and is in need of care and protection. This also includes non-professionals. And, what must we do? Report to a designated child protection organisation (e.g. Child Welfare or local Department of Social Development), the provincial Department of Social Development or the police. Make sure the information is accurate and truthful.
Examples of what a child in need of care and protection may endure are:
- Being physically, mentally or emotionally neglected or abused by a parent/caregiver
- Having parents/caregivers who are unable to control the child’s behaviour
- Live in a home where they are unsafe and could be harmed if they remain
- Live, work or beg on the street
- Drink too much alcohol and take drugs, without having support or help
- Being abounded or orphaned with no available support
Note that the law does not want to break up families if it is not absolutely necessary, which is when a child is in danger.
Many cases go unreported and children suffer in silence with long-lasting consequences, which could for example be mental health issues and substance abuse. This is one reason why it is so important that we stand up for the protection of every child by stopping harm from happening. Sometimes what it takes is that information and skills are given to struggling parents in challenging situations.
It is currently this year’s Child Protection Month in South Africa. Join us in making children’s lives better where you are, not only now in May, but every day. Together we can do so much.
If you have concerns regarding a child you are welcome to contact us:
GCF Helpdesk: 076 507 5942
GCF landline: 039 317 2761
Other contact numbers:
Domestic Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150
SAPS Emergency Services: 10 111
Written by Anna-Karin Öhrnstedt