As South Africa observes Child Protection Week, government has asked all members of society to join in making safety, care and protection of children a priority.
Observed under the theme, 'Let Us Protect Children to Move South Africa Forward', the 22nd anniversary of the Child Protection Week campaign comes at a time when South Africa has seen atrocious abuse and violence against children.
"While government has put in place mechanisms and legislation to protect the rights of children, we must do more as society. We need to reflect on the Constitutional rights of our children and do much more to protect them. This must happen every day and not only during this heightened period.
"It is the responsibility of each member of the community to play an active role by speaking out and protecting children as they are one of the most vulnerable groups in society," said Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Director-General, Phumla Williams.
While gains are being made in the conviction of child abusers, government will strengthen its zero-tolerance approach to child abuse. This is demonstrated by the recent launch of the Gender Based Violence Declaration, as well as the opening of the Booysens Sexual Offences Court by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"We will be relentless in our fight to stop this scourge and call on communities to work with law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to book.
"Parents are urged to raise a generation of children that is free from abuse and communities are expected to play their part in protecting, defending and loving the children of South Africa," Williams said.
Government urged sectors of society, including NGOs, parents, child caregivers and teachers to work jointly in the fight against child abuse, neglect, exploitation and sexual violence in communities.
"We all have a role in ensuring that our children are protected and we must all play our part and report any form of abuse to the authorities. Silence is not an option," Williams said.
Government also appealed to communities to report any incidents of abuse or violation of children's rights at their nearest police station or by contacting the following hotline numbers:
- Department of Social Development 24-hour Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (toll-free) Callers may also request a Social Worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone
- ChildLine South Africa: 0800 055 555.
- Child Welfare South Africa: 0861 424453 / 011 452-4110
- SAPS Crime Stop: 08600 10 111
- SMS Crime Line: 32211
On 9 June 2019, the Department of Social Development will host a community event to raise awareness and mark the closing ceremony of Child Protection Week in Witbank, Mpumalanga.
For updates on Child Protection Week activities, follow @GCISMedia @SAGovNews @GovernmentZA and @The_DSD using the hashtag: #ChildProtection2019 and #CPW19.