Child-headed households on the rise in SA

CHILD-HEADED households have increased by 25percent in the last five years, the SA Institute of Race Relations has said.

CHILD-HEADED households have increased by 25percent in the last five years, the SA Institute of Race Relations has said.

A child-headed household is one in which the oldest family member is 17 years old or younger. The oldest sibling is burdened with taking care of the younger ones.

Most of them are forced to drop out of school to care for their siblings.

Child-headed households increased from 118000 in 2002 to 148000 in 2007.

Most child-headed households are in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape have the lowest number of child-headed households and most of them are male. In 2007, 95000 out of the 148000 children in child-headed households were male.

The majority of children in child-headed households were between 12 and 14 years old.

A new trend developed between 2002 and 2007 when the proportion of children between zero and five years increased. In 2002, 4percent of children in these households were aged between zero and five years. The number increased to 9percent in 2007.

SAIRR researcher Gail Eddy said the research looked only at figures and not at their social implications.

She said not enough was being done to preserve family life, with both the state and NGOs falling short in terms of providing support structures.

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