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DURBAN – Girls and Boys Town South Africa calls on all South Africans to do better and to help create a society where children have safer spaces and are allowed to lead lives that nurture their potential from birth.
While the country commemorates Child Protection Week, GBTSA said the event is an annual jolt to the apathy often felt about the plight of the vulnerable.
“It is difficult to take care of something that feels aloof from yourself. Failure to take care of our children, however, shows a detachment from reality and ultimately projects a social comfort and coexistence with violence and abuse,” said GBTSA.
According to a report from the University of Cape Town, children made up 35% of the South African population in mid-2018.
“As small as it seems, the greatest inhumanity is evident within this population,” said GBTSA.
A 2020 report by Stats SA suggests that 60% of children are multidimensionally poor.
The Optimus Foundation’s 2016 study among 15-17 year olds found that 40% of these young people had experienced various kinds of neglect and abuse at some point in their life.
“It’s a cliché to say that children are the future, but if this is their present, what does the future hold for them? Finding the answer may not be that difficult considering we are currently living with the children , for which the future was touted was a few decades ago.
Our society today is one of distrust, and the rise in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression among teenagers is partly due to the violence that plagues children as they grow up and try to play in the background, “GBTSA said.
In the 63 years since Girls and Boys Town in South Africa was founded, the children who have walked through their doors have often put their circumstances in shock because of trauma.
“Some of our children started their lives in a plastic bag that was left in a public space. Parents never returned or were rescued from the abusive clutches of the elders entrusted with their care. To help them, the childcare system became common mix them up three to four times before they find a home forever.
“During this time, their perceptions of the world eventually develop into suspicion, and they carry a sadness that is normally inarticulate but involuntarily manifests itself in other ways,” said GBTSA.
GBTSA said if everyone did their part to create a safe space for children, it could lead to a country where empowered children are indeed the future.