Childhood abuse not being properly addressed – expert


Zodidi Mhlana

JOHANNESBURG- As the country marks National Child Protection Week, experts believe that South Africa should invest into services that prevent violence against children.

“I think children are not being protected sufficiently. We talk a lot about child protection and we do very little. When we talk about services, services simply do not exist in meaningful ways. When we have Child Protection Week, it always bothers me that we spend so much on celebration parties for children and yet we do not provide things for children they need when active abuse and trauma happen. I’d would like to see money being plowed into services rather than saying, its Child Protection Week let’s spend money on it,” Child expert and former president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Joan van Niekerk said on Monday.

Child Protection Week comes at a time when the country is still reeling from the killing of two young girls who were found dead in an open veld in Thokoza. The bodies of the girls aged eight and nine were discovered after they were reported missing.

On Monday, Basic Education minister also expressed shock after two North West teenagers were found hanged at their school’s hostel in Stella.

“It is deeply concerning that our young girls are dying in this manner. This is truly a tragedy and shows as a society we need to work with our young boys in order to better equip them to effectively deal with relationship dynamics. We have seen far too many of our young women killed at the hands of their boyfriends, or ex-boyfriends. It is shocking and deeply disturbing,” said Motshekga.

Van Niekerk said that many children were still reluctant to report abuse to law enforcement agencies due to various reasons.

“Children fear to report to the police station because they are often teased. They are told that they are responsible what’s happening to them. Our child protection register that is held by the department of social development is not kept up to date. Cases of abuse are not being recorded as they should be. Recording cases of abuse will help us to know where children are being abused and the kind services should we be providing. Often children have held responsible themselves when they get abused or are raped and get abducted,” she said.

Van Niekerk added that those who are tasked with child protection should be trained.