Who will protect our children?
The year 2016 has seen a number of rights violations suffered by children at the hands of those that are tasked with protecting and caring for them when parents are not around.
These violations took place in schools, day care centres as well as universities across the country.
Children were subjected to a wide range of abuses ranging from physical to emotional and even those that were sexual in nature.
The ones that stood out the most were not only the ones that sparked the biggest public outcry but the ones that also gave a glimpse into the kind of society we are raising our children in.
As the globe, and South Africa, marks 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, it is important to remember that the scars of the victims tend to remain for longer than the incident remains in the minds of those who were not directly affected.
Toddler assaulted at day care centre
A day care centre in Soshanguve in Pretoria landed in hot water after reports emerged that a teacher had assaulted a five year old girl for wetting herself.
The assault left the child with bleeding wounds on her back.
The child’s mother visited the crèche demanding answers only to told that her child was not beaten, but was injured when she was bathed with bleach on her back.
This incident raised concern over the status of early childhood development institutions in the country and the kind of regulations which govern them
Gauteng Childline director Lynne Cawood has urged parents to report incidents to 08 000 55 555.
“This will allow our staff to provide both the child and the parents with the necessary counselling” Cawood added
Racism Allegations at Pretoria Girls High
A different kind of abuse was seen at the Pretoria High school for girls, where learners at the school were subjected to emotional abuse at the hands of their teachers and school administrators.
According to the learners the schools code of conduct was not only against black learners being themselves at the institution, especially with regards to how they wear their hair, but they were also at the receiving end of insults from the very educators that are meant to protect and guide them.
“The teacher told me that I am dirty and that I have a nest on top of my head” one of the learners relayed as she told her story to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi during a visit.
The learners started an online petition calling for intervention at the school.
One of the other issues that came out during Lesufi’s site visit was that black learners were not allowed to gather in groups as this was seen as “conspiring” by the school.
This type of racial profiling at the hands of the educators was met with disgust from the education officials who were present at the meeting and many citizens from around the country.
The amount of emotion with which the learners relayed their individual stories was a clear sign that an irreparable amount of emotional abuse had taken place at the school.
More learners from other schools around the country also shared their stories on the various platforms available.
The scars left by emotional abuse take longer to heal, if they do, as it may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
These are only two incidents which played out in the country this year – where the innocence of children was compromised by the treatment dealt to them by the adults in their lives who were meant to protect and care for them.
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