Violence against children a critical challenge

With National Child Protection Week past, violence against children remains a critical challenge, with more than 24,000 children sexually assaulted and 943 children murdered, according to the latest annual crime statistics.

The South African Police Service (Saps) statistics showed child murders dropped by 7%, but someone is raped every 35 seconds.

However, according to the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation only one in 20 rape cases is reported.

Studies have shown that nearly every child in South Africa has either experienced violence, or been exposed to it.

More than 784,967 children have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lives and girls have been physically and sexually assaulted at school by teachers, classmates, or other individuals.

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A UBS Optimus study, published in 2016, revealed more than 42% of children had experienced some form of maltreatment whether sexual, physical, emotional or neglect, while 82% experienced some form of victimisation whether criminal victimisation or exposure to family or community violence.

Save the Children South Africa protection programme manager Divya Naidoo said corporal punishment has become the most acceptable form of violence against children.

“Lots of people do not see it as violence and they just believe that is it a form of discipline. They do not understand that beating up a child is violence.”

According to Unicef SA, the violence is compounded by high poverty and unemployment.

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