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SOWETAN | SA not safe for children

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/tinnakornlek

If this country’s future depends on its young people, then that future is horrifyingly bleak judging by the state of South African child report released by the Nelson Mandela Foundation yesterday.

It paints the stark and shameful state of our country and how it treats its most vulnerable.

The study investigated the challenges facing children in several areas including poverty, health, education and safety to mention just a few. The research has made deeply disturbing findings, which have brought to the fore the scale of vulnerability among children in SA.

It reveals millions of children in SA living vulnerable in poverty and high-risk lives susceptible to drugs. To some extent it appears the fate of so many children is sealed at birth with neonatal and child mortality rates having increased from figures last recorded in 2020.

The report attributes the noticeable increase to effects of Covid-19 due to reduced access to health services as well as suspension of routine vaccination campaigns. The rural provinces of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape have alarmingly high mortality rates.

Other key findings include the fact that 6.8-million children live below poverty line while more than 17,000 cases of child abuse and neglect were reported countyrwide with the Western Cape accounting for most of the cases .

But according to the researchers these figures could only be the tip of the iceberg with the report finding that most cases of violence including sexual abuse do not get reported to the police.

We share the sentiment expressed by Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund CEO, Linda Ncube-Nkomo that the numbers reflect a small portion of the challenges experienced by children in the country.

“We know there’s more beyond the numbers, not every case is reported or talked about, and those real numbers are really devastating to think about,” said Ncube-Nkomo.

Not a month goes by in SA without horrific stories of abuse and murder of children being reported in the news, which makes you wonder what type of society we are to allow such a thing to happen to children.

The findings of the report also point to a future crisis unless the government can do more with the help of civil society to deal with the problems outlined. The figures reflect the ugly truth that our country is no place for children.

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