Kids suffer at hands of a cruel society
THERE are at least 124 violent crimes committed against children every day in South Africa.
And those are just the incidents reported to the police. It’s a statistic that has set the tone for the 2014 South African Child Gauge, an annual report released in Pretoria yesterday.
This year, the focus is on the culture of violence and how to break the seemingly unending cycle of abuse.
According to the UCT Children’s Institute, the authors of the comprehensive study, crime against children is rampant. Population-based prevalence studies showed that more than half of the country’s children experience physical violence at the hands of a teacher, caregiver or relative.
The abuse can vary across different life stages: infanticide or abandonment between birth to one year, physical and sexual abuse and neglect across the life span, and dating and interpersonal violence among men peaking in the teenage years.
The institute’s director, Shanaaz Mathews, said abuse hampered children’s development, learning ability, selfesteem and emotional security and could have long-term consequences for their employment prospects and life expectancy.
The first solution outlined in the report is the need for prevention programmes. The programmes need to be designed to work in local settings, adjusted for different neighbourhoods and be integrated into existing infrastructure such as the health-care system.
The hefty report delves into other solutions, but the commissioning editor, Lori Lake, said the short answer to the issue of violence against children was that government spending needed to shift from prioritising reactive protection services and increase funding to prevention and early intervention programmes.