Children are parents of the future and if they are not well taken care of or protected the future of the nation will be problematic.
This is according to Johannesburg Child Welfare Director Carol Bews.
She said the future of South Africa is directly linked to how citizens treat their children.
“We need to do the best that we possibly can as communities to help parents take care of children. A lot of us do not take that seriously and that is why South Africa is ranked amongst the top when it comes to the abuse of children," said Bews.
“Above 90 percent of South African children are either exposed to violence or have their rights violated, and 40 percent of child abuse cases are related to sexual abuse. We have so many children in the country who are abandoned,” she added.
Bews is concerned that sometimes child abuse occurs in places like schools where children are supposed to be safe.
Some of the physical signs of a child who is being abused include bruises and marks. However there are also psycho-social signs, such as a child who shies away from people or is more sensitive to people who make noise or speak harshly and a child who does not want to play with other children.
She also said in many cases child abusers are often people who abuse alcohol and drugs.
Johannesburg Child Welfare is a Child Protection Organisation (CPO) registered with the Gauteng Department of Social Development, in terms of the Children’s Act, to provide a statutory service for the prevention and early intervention, for children between zero and 12-years-old.
Bews said her organisation has two homes that look after about 120 children.
“We take care of children who were abandoned at birth, some were neglected by their parents and others have been abused in various ways including rape and attempted murder,” she said.
She said children who have been abused suffer a lot of trauma and have to go to counselling.
“Violent crimes against children as released in a report by the South African Police Service remain high in the country. According to SAPS, 38 995 cases of sexual offences against children were reported in the past year,” she said.
“This figure indicates that violence against children, especially, sexual violence in the country is still a major concern,” she added.
She said sexual abuse against children has a major long-term effect on all aspects of a child’s development and even when they become adults.
DO YOU NEED HELP?
To prevent violent incidents of child-related abuse and neglect, including gender based violence in the households, the Department of Social Development established the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) to provide counselling and support.
The toll-free number for command centre is 0800 428 428. Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.