Are we doing enough to protect children’s rights in South Africa?
South Africa’s constitution makes provision for these rights for our children…
1. Every child has the right –
a) to a name and a nationality from birth;
b) to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;
c) to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;
d) to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;
e) to be protected from exploitative labour practices;
f) not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that –
h) are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age; or
i) place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development;
2. A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.
This Human Rights Day I want to place my spotlight on children’s rights. Many of us are aware of the rights listed above. But do we actively protect these rights, or are we the ones as adults who violate them the most.
Let us look at whether we always do what is in the best interest of the child for example:
• How many times have we neglected our children trying to get back at the other parent?
• How many times have we stayed in an abusive relationship and allowed other adults to abuse our children emotionally and sometimes physically?
• How many of us have walked away from your families?
Often we say children are resilient and expect them to bounce back, yet it takes you a lifetime to forgive the other party. I don’t have all the answers but I’m hoping that perhaps these questions will keep us conscious of the way we treat our children and in the end shape the type of adult they become.
Some of the other rights are not on the list above, but how many times have you as an adult, dismissed a child because you did not have the answers because a conversation made you uncomfortable.
How many times have you ill-treated the child out of anger and resentment towards the other parent?
Let us from this Human Rights Day actively protect our children in all possible ways. I’m not saying it is easy but it is time children’s rights stop being a high- level discussion. Be willing to learn from them. Open yourself to their world, remember that you were once a child and what struggles you had having been heard never heard and understood.