Rights groups are concerned about the increased reports of child abuse, neglect and human trafficking.
United under the banner of the Homestead NPO, they marched through the streets of Site C last Wednesday, May 31, to highlight the safety of children during Child Protection Week.
Armed with placards, and accompanied by traffic officers, they voiced their opposition to violence and child abuse.
March organisers also encouraged people on the streets to join in the demonstration.
The walk was followed by an information session which took place at the Isikhokelo Primary School hall where different stakeholders told the pupils, parents and teachers about child protection.
The Homestead’s prevention and early intervention social work manager, Nozuko Nothwanya, said abuse and neglect can have a devastating effect on children and families.
Speaking to Vukani, she said the main purpose of the campaign was to advocate for children’s rights.
They also aim to educate families and communities about their responsibility towards the protection and care of children as stipulated in the Government’s Concept Paper for Child Protection Week 2017.
“The main focus is on the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, dealing with disclosures, legal reporting procedures and general tips on how communities can protect and care for their children. Child protection is everybody’s business.
“We have seen on the news that child abuse is escalating day by day. We have seen horrible stories of children abused and killed. So now we are calling for everyone to stand up against this unsavoury behaviour of certain people. We need to know that children are the future,” said Ms Nothwanya.
She said most times the signs of child abuse and neglect are obvious, but people need to be alert.
“We need to know the signs. Teachers work with children more than their parents, they need to see the signs too. They are always there but often hidden. This year’s theme is ‘Let us all protect children to move forward’.
“That tells us that children are important. They need us to fight for them. They need our protection and love. But most importantly, we must recognise when the child is in harm’s way,” she said.
She urged teachers to always deal with sensitive matters relating to child abuse in a confidential manner.
She said this would help earn the trust of the children.
But she also encouraged children to report crimes against teachers.
Isikhokelo Primary School principal Yoliswa Qomoyi thanked the Homestead for bringing the information session to the school.
She said the school needed the involvement of parents, NGOs and the government in the fight against abuse.
“We have seen painful stories recently. It has been bad out there. But if the community and organisations like the Homestead do not rise up, we will lose future leaders. We are grateful to have them at our school,” she said.
Parent Nkosinathi Mthenjana condemned any form of abuse against children.
The Taiwan resident said it was appalling to hear about the rapes and killings of young girls in particular.
But he said he was happy that the Site C community had started patrolling the streets.
“We have heard about abductions, rapes, killings and all these gruesome stories. This is bad and it should not be allowed anywhere. But this community has taken a stand, to patrol,” he said.