South Africa: The Prevalence of Child Abuse Cries Out for More Government Action

opinion

Child deaths related to abuse and neglect are especially common in children under five, highlighting the vulnerability of young children to violence and neglect in the home. Children under five are most likely to be killed in the first six days of life, largely as a result of abandonment.

The year 2019 was a year of outrage about violence against women and children. It was also a year of concerted effort by child protection activists to prevent abuse and abandonment-related child deaths. Yet in the battle to minimise violence and stop child deaths, the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children brought no substantial policy amendments. The reasons are simple: while the causes of child deaths are easily identifiable, fixing them is a lot more challenging. What the government does next will determine what the child violence and death statistics will look like this time next year.

Preventing child deaths is one of the many challenges South Africa faces. The 2009 Child Death Review, which focused on natural and unnatural deaths, found that child deaths related to abuse and neglect were especially common in children under five, highlighting the vulnerability of young children to violence...

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