Child Protection Week 2019: Children’s rights

Child Protection Week 2019: Children’s rights

Child Protection Week runs from 2 to 9 June 2019. Government is calling for all citizens to ensure safety, care, and protection of children.

Children's rights
Children's rights/ iStock

Children’s rights are often neglected and violated in South Africa. Despite the constitution stating that everyone has a right to life, in 2018, 985 South African children were murdered. 

In 2018, during a parliament session, Zakhele Mbhele, DA's Member of Parliament, said in the last three financial years, "at least 46 children are raped every day and at least two children are murdered every single day in South Africa. Only 21% of child rape cases and only one in three murder cases resulted in successful convictions”. 

Although every child has a right to be protected from abuse, child abuse statistics show that South African children are often prone to abuse. In the past three years, 99% of children in South Africa experienced or witnessed violence. This is according to a report by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, in Parliament in 2018. 

Another 2017 study by the Children’s Institute of the University of Cape Town reports that one in three children will experience sexual or physical abuse before the age of eighteen.

Apart from abuse, poverty is also a concern.

The SA Child Gauge 2017 survey compiled by the University of Cape Town’s Children’s Institute found that 12% of children live below the international ultra-poverty line. 

All these reports and studies show that children’s lives need to be protected and their rights need to be upheld.

The theme for this year’s Child Protection Week is “Let Us Protect Children to Move South Africa Forward”.

Because children are the future of the country and their lives are important, it is crucial for all citizens to know and protect their rights.

Below are the rights of children according to Section 28 in the Constitution of South Africa:

Every child has the right -

a) to a name and a nationality from birth;

b) to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;

c) to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;

d) to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;

e) to be protected from exploitative labour practices;

f) not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that -

i) are inappropriate for a person of that child's age; or

ii) place at risk the child's well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development;

g) not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be -

i) kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and

ii) treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child's age;

h) 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

i) not to be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.

(2) A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

(3) In this section “child” means a person under the age of 18 years.

Image courtesy of iStock/ FotoCuisinette

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