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Listen to children's cries for faith in a future

By unknown | May 21, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

As I pointed out last week, the children of Khutsong are still on a class boycott.

They have been at home for more than six weeks now. What will happen to them? How can we let this sort of thing continue in this new South Africa? Why are our leaders so silent?

Last week social workers and police found a teenager who had been kept as a sex slave in a house in KwaZulu-Natal for about 13 years.

The boy, known only as Bongani, recoiled from the sun and spoke only in stops and starts.

The man who allegedly kept the boy in these dingy conditions has appeared in court.

In theSunday Times yesterday there was a story about a school in Goso, Lusikisiki in Eastern Cape, where 114 schoolgirls fell pregnant last year.

When the newspaper visited the school, a number of girls were walking around with big tummies, clearly pregnant.

I think our country is becoming inured to the plight of children. Even as we progress, the young are increasingly vulnerable as pornographers, paedophiles and all manner of vermin extend their hands into our communities.

I think to be a child today in the new South Africa must be one of the most challenging and dangerous things to be. Add to all these dangers the fact that so many children are growing up in child-headed households as parents die of Aids. In many ways, these children face a future that is already dark. For them to claw themselves out of their poverty is almost impossible. They are trapped in a cycle that very few can ever get out of.

But what is worse is the silence from all of us.

Parents seem to be apathetic; the government has lost the ability to hear the cries of its own children. And our communities are daily being broken down into units where it is every man and woman for himself.

The old support networks of extended families are falling apart because of the challenges of modern living.

The situation is dire.

What can be done? Clearly civil society and the government need to sit down and address this issue together. A radical plan to turn the downward spiral around needs to be developed.

It is not to overstate things to say that we have a national crisis on our hands. If we do not wake to the challenge, we face the very real prospect of condemning many of our children to a future that is not worth living for.

Too many of our children have no future at all.


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