A horde of energetic children marching against the scourge of child abuse as part of Child Protection Week recently brought Marina Drive in Zandspruit, Johannesburg, to a standstill.
Commemorated under the theme “Let us all protect children during Covid-19 and beyond”, this year, the annual Child Protection Week was aimed at raising awareness and advocating for the protection of children’s rights as enshrined in the constitution.
Over 100 children from various early childhood development centres (ECDs) in the area attended the two-part event, which kicked-off with the rip-roaring march followed by the main workshop at Realeboga Pre-Primary. The session by the Social Development department in Region C had speakers from different institutions unpacking the importance of fostering open communication between children and caregivers under the sub-theme “Disclosure”.
Musa Mbatha from the department explained that the idea was to empower both the children and caregivers. “Some family dynamics take away the children’s capacity to open up to their parents about abuse, so we’re empowering caregivers to be able to talk to them,” he said. Caregivers also called for more recognition. This was expressed by the principal of Lucky Star Pre-School, Betty Xakeka, who said they play a pivotal role in the development of children. She made an example of how a society that trivialises the existence of children faces a bleak future.
“If the government could recognise how critical the role of ECDs has in the foundation stages, we would have less school dropouts and other social ills as we instill critical values at this age,” Xakeka added.Topics on the creation of a child-friendly society, free of abuse, were also discussed by the different stakeholders who were present, from the local clinic to the police.
The Social Development department also donated food packs to the participating ECDs, which the ward councillor, David Mangena, applauded especially for ward 114. “We need every department of government to be involved in our community as events of this nature do not only empower parents but children and the community at large as well,” he said.