National Child Protection Week is celebrated annually in South Africa from 26 May to 1 June, to raise awareness about the rights of children
The campaign, launched in 1997, highlights the protection and care of children as a national priority.
This year the campaign, led by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, calls on all South Africans to protect children and create a safe and secure environment for them.
This year’s theme is ‘Working Together to Protect Children’.
The Department of Social Development is urging South Africans across the country wear green ribbons, which symbolises life, growth, hope, care and support for children, during Child Protection Week.
According to the department, more than 100 cases of child abuse are reported every week and nearly 50 000 cases of crimes against children, under the age of 18, were reported between 2011 and 2012.
To improve the safety of children, gov- SAnews ernment departments have joined forces. The South African Police Service (SAPS) last year rolled out a victim empowerment learning programme as part of its in-service training programme. The programme teaches police officers how to help victims and improve investigations of sexual offences.
Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units (FCS) have also been re-introduced at all 176 SAPS clusters in the nine provinces. There are currently 2 155 detectives at these units with 1 276 vehicles. To date, FCS units have secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73 per cent for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70 per cent for crimes against children under 18 years old.
SAPS, in a partnership with the Department of Basic Education, also introduced preventative programmes in schools across the country. As part of these programmes, learners are encouraged to report any form of abuse to their school, teachers or the police.
Thanks to various initiatives under the campaign, the number of children who were neglected or ill-treated dropped from 5 568 in 2004, to 2 949 by the end of 2012, according to the department