South Africa ready to mark Child Protection Week

SABC News Mpumalanga children - South Africa ready to mark Child Protection Week

Child Protection Week will yet again highlight young ones’ vulnerability and the need to shield and safeguard them. In a series of stories, SABC News will bring you the dark secrets and pain of many young victims.

Our reporter Gillian Pillay spoke to a young survivor, who deliberately cuts herself to inflict pain. This to cope with a sexual ordeal at a young age.

A life orientation lesson stirred up a harrowing episode. The Grade 10 pupil was only 7 years old when she was sexually assaulted. Now a teenager, she self-mutilates to process her emotional trauma.

Two weeks ago she cut herself yet again.

“She’s facing a lot of emotion with this, and the more the emotion comes the deeper the cutting goes. With the first cutting it was not so deep as it is. With the therapy more emotions coming out. I am afraid she will go to the extent of cutting her pulse,” explains her mother.

Across the city, young people are reflecting on children’s rights, the well-being and protection of minors.

17 year old Kim Baloyi is one of a group who compiled this book titled: National Child Participation Framework.

“As young as we are, we have issues. We have voices you must hear and act on those voices. I start working on children’s issues, take them into considering. We know our rights and we have the voices you should listen to.”

Implementation and resources still lack.

DDG Social Development, Conny Nxumalo says “I acknowledge we have the best Constitution. They say we have good policies as a country and good framework, the problem is implementation.  What is wrong with government listening to us as children in terms of those policies.”

Teddy Bear Clinic’s Dr Shaheda Omar says “The 25 year democracy has listened to the children but not heard them. We are still finding children that are victims of malnutrition, children that are victims of abuse, children that are still not being educated at school. Children have the soul, the heart, they have the ability to bring into effect the transformation of change  and acknowledge children is the way to go.”

And some advice to other parents. “Whether it is family members or strangers, the child should understand what is a good hug and a bad hug. And with self-mutilation, if you can teach your child to speak, they do it, because the emotion is so deep and so bad and you try to get it out on the physical. So, you can feel physically the pain than emotional teach them to talk more,” says the mother of the Grade 10 sexual assault survivor.

It’s a slow and delicate process. But with the right help and support, this young victim’s life could return to normal.

Save the Children South Africa in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Gauteng Government held a Child Protection Week Panel at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The event is in line with the Child Protection week to be launched on Sunday. It has brought together children from different parts of the country to talk about how their rights should be protected.

15-year-old Siphesihle Ngomane from Ermelo, in Mpumalanga, is one of the ambassadors.

“We all have rights, make the world a better place and stop fighting against each other. We should actually look at the circumstances of this country and try to fix that.There’s no homes, there’s no proper homes. Imagine when kids have to go to school, some kids don’t have uniform. Some kids don’t have what we have. And I think they deserve it as well. So let’s just be fair and help those who don’t have.”

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