WHO IS A CHILD?
A child is anyone under the age of 18 years.
The supreme law of South Africa, which is the Constitution, guarantees that all people younger than 18 years have children’s rights. Therefore, all children in South Africa, including children from other countries, have rights.
WHAT RIGHTS DO CHILDREN HAVE?
- Children have the right to be children.
- Children have the right to be cared for by their parents, family and caregivers.
- Children have the right to enough food to stay healthy.
- Children have the right to the best possible health care when they are sick.
- Children have the right to be protected from harm, to have shelter and to feel safe.
- Children have the right to an education.
- Children with disabilities have the right to special care.
- Children have the right to speak out and be heard.
CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED.
- The Government, including the SAPS, must do everything it can to protect children from people, including their parents, who hurt them.
- The Government must help protect children from all kinds of physical and mental violence, injury or abuse.
- Children who are in trouble with the law have the right to be treated with special attention.
- Children have the right to be protected from situations of armed conflict.
- Children have the right to protected against neglect, abuse and punishment by parents and caregivers.
- Children have the right to play and not to do grown-up work; to be protected against child labour – and being forced to work to make money for others.
- Children have the right to be protected against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
- Children have the right to be protected against harmful substances and drugs. Children must be protected from being used to make or sell drugs.
WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
- Forcing a child to touch you.
- Exposing a child to pornographic material.
- Touching a child where he or she doesn’t want to be touched and when it is appropriate.
- Hitting or hurting a child – or to relieve your own frustration on him or her.
- To degrade, threaten or to yell at a child.
- Not taking proper care of a child, for example not cleaning, clothing feeding a child.
WHEN THERE ARE INDEED INDICATIONS THAT A CRIME WAS COMMITTED, IT MUST BE REPORTED TO THE POLICE.
CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE CARED FOR AND FEEL SAFE
- Perpetrators are often known to the child. They could be people abuse their positions of trust by abusing children when they actually supposed to be the children. They could even be parents, other family members, friends or neighbours. This, however, does not mean that all those in positions of trust abuse children.
- Children are vulnerable, especially over weekends and holidays when they are alone at home.
- Parents or caregivers must always know where and with whom their children are.
- Parents or caregivers must always act in the best interest the child.
- Child protection starts at home and with one’s own family.
SAFETY PLAN FOR CHILDREN
- If you are feeling threatened, tell someone that you trust.
- Never allow abuse to become a secret between you and the abuser.
- If someone has already abused you, do not protect him or her – yourself – report it.
- If you are not believed, tell someone else. Go to a clinic and tell the sister, she must take action. You can report abuse at a police station, or a teacher you can trust to help report it. You can also call the toll-free Childline number at 0800 05 55 55.
Keep telling people what has happened until someone believes you and takes action to protect you.
BE AWARE, BE SAFE
- Be informed about your rights as a child.
- You have the right to say NO to any person who is doing saying things that you feel are wrong (even your parents). This will include someone who tries to touch your body or makes any proposals that you feel uncomfortable about.
- Read about things that you do not understand like: sex, AIDS, how babies are born?, what is sexual, emotional and physical abuse? You do not have to be afraid or ashamed to ask questions about these things You can ask your parents, teachers or any adult you trust about these things, or you can call Childline.
- Treasure your body, it is yours for your lifetime.
- Respect yourself and others.
- Value your own life – you are special.
- A child who is aware is a well-protected child.
- Girl or boy, rich or poor, fat or thin, tall or short – carry yourself with confidence.
- Do not give in to pressure from your friends or anybody else, stick to your principles.
- Know your limits and respect the limits of others.
- Girls and boys, protect and stand up for each other, for what is right.
- If you are abused it can never be your fault – abusers will try and put the blame on you in an attempt to keep you from talking to others about the abuse.
Remember, preventing crimes against children is everybody’s business.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OR SUSPECT THAT A CHILD IS BEING ABUSED, CALL THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE:
SAPS Crime Stop
08 600 10111
SAPS Emergency number
0800 05 55 55
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