In the wake of Child Protection Week stakeholders hosted a peaceful march against child abuse on Monday May 29 in Site C, Khayelitsha.
The march was attended by Childline South Africa, Moses Mabhida Library, Isikhokelo Primary school, South African Police Services, Homestead, Daddy Care, and Child Welfare.
The stakeholders and children took to the streets with posters highlighting children’s rights. The children took the front line with placards saying “Be our voice”, “Break the circle of abuse”, “children are not object”’ and “No abuse, only love and care” before returning to the school hall to listen to speakers.
Childline social worker Nosiphiwo Nombeke said the march was meant to highlight the scourge of child abuse and to alert residents about children’s rights.
“We are here to create awareness and empower young people with their rights. But we want them to know that rights go with responsibilities. Having said that, we also want them to report the abuse at home, at school and in general. If they are scared to speak out to their parents, we want them to speak to their teachers. Lastly, we also want parents to help and take care of their children. We urge them to always know their whereabouts and their health status,” she said.
She added that child neglect is very common. Ms Nombeke said Childline makes assessments at schools to find out how children are being treated. She said many parents, children and members of the community do not have a firm grasp of what child abuse is so they have to be made aware.
Khayelitsha police’s Constable Celia Ngobeni addressed the children and urged them to report any abuse and any person that touches their private parts. She said children have to be alert and vigilant at all times and not allow anyone to abuse them.
“No one is allowed to touch your private parts. You need to report that to your parents or approach your teacher. You should be treated as good as anyone else. But you also need to do away with bullying at school. Bullying is another form of abuse. If you bully others, they might run away from school and we do not want that. We will arrest you,” she threatened. She said police are there for all, not only the parents.
An early childhood development group, Daddy Care from Site C explained common forms of abuse. Mthunzi Qagana, the founder, said children do not feel safe in the community. Mr Qagana said his organisation hopes everyone can act as a safe space and report abuse.
“Your parents should take good care of you. If you play sports, they should take you to the playing field. It is their duty to see that you are safe. Parents are responsible for your safety but you also have a responsibility to take care of yourself. As much as you have rights, those rights go with responsibilities,” he told the children.
Mr Qagana said his organisation works to educate and empower parents and children on their rights.
You can call Childline on 116 or 021 376 0000.