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Protecting children from violence, exploitation, and abuse is not only a basic value but also an obligation clearly set out in Article 28 of the South African Constitution. It’s human inclination to protect every child from violence, exploitation, neglect, and other forms of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse – at all costs.  Yet, the perpetual scourge of violence against children in South Africa remains rampant and is often too harrowing to comprehend.

Being a law firm primarily focused on Family Law, we understand that the Voice of the Child is of paramount importance in the fight against child abuse.  Children should indeed BE SEEN and BE HEARD.  Very fittingly, this year’s theme for the annual Child Protection Week, is “Every Conversation Matters”.

During this week every year, the country comes together to raise awareness of children’s rights as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (in section 28 of the Bill of Rights) and the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005). The campaign is led by the Department of Social Development in partnership with key government departments and civil society organizations that provide child protection services. As responsible citizens, we can all contribute to stopping the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence, and exploitation of children.

The South African Police Services is also one of the major role players with regard to child safety in South Africa, as was conveyed by Brig Herna Els, the head of Free State FCS on 30 May 2024.  She confirmed, rightly so, that crime against children must be addressed on a multidisciplinary level. Victims are encouraged to report incidents to the nearest police station or, in the case of learners, to a teacher or social worker at school who will assist them in referring the case to the SAPS.  The only way to stop perpetrators of crimes against children is to report these crimes and give full disclosure.  This will help victims receive the necessary assistance and counseling and turn them into victors.  It is the only way to break the vicious cycle of abuse.

According to Lucy Jamieson, a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Children’s Institute, whose research focuses on child rights, participatory democracy, policy development, and child protection, South Africa is unfortunately not doing well in terms of child protection. Violence against children is widespread and despite progressive changes in legal frameworks over the years, we can’t seem to break that intergenerational cycle of violence.

Common signs and indicators of child abuse and neglect that parents, teachers, and community members should be aware of:

Physical abuse: this type of abuse is most noticeable if the child is not dressed appropriately, or has blue marks (cigarette burns or blue eyes). A child doesn’t accidentally get these injuries, they were inflicted on them.

Emotional abuse: it includes any degrading or insulting comments or remarks towards a child, or threats. This is noticeable when a child is very unhappy, scared, and displaying aggressive behaviour.

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Attorneys can play a crucial role in promoting child safety and well-being, by ensuring that their involvement in family law, puts the best interest of the child first. Our law firm is experienced in protecting the rights of children

Please note that the information provided in this blog post is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal guidance, we encourage you to reach out to our team of experienced attorneys

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