What you should know about South Africa’s Children’s Act

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

A child, according to the Children’s Act, is a person under the age of 18 years old. Children’s rights, protection and welfare are part of the 16 days of activism period, which runs from the 25th of November to the 10th of December.

According to Statistics South Africa, roughly 29.2% of the population of 52.98 million people were aged younger than 15 years old in 2013. Of those younger than 15 years, approximately 22%, or 3.42 million, live in KwaZulu-Natal alone, making it the province with the highest population of young children in the country.

Section 28 of South Africa’s Constitution is specifically dedicated to various rights a child is entitled to, including the right to a nationality from birth, and to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation among others.

Child abuse of any form can be reporter to any teacher, nurse or a police official, and you will not be liable to civil action on the basis of your reporting of child abuse or neglect.

According to the Department of Justice, categories of abuse range from physical, sexual, emotional, as well as deliberate neglect. Young girls tend to be the most vulnerable to such abuses.

South Africa nevertheless has a national Child Protection Register (CPR), which is a two part document that keeps a record of reported child abuses and related information, as well as a record of persons who are unsuitable to work with or among children. The register aims to protect and curb instances of abuse and neglect among children. In 2012, the number of people on the register stood at 438.

In 2007, the Children’s Act was updated to allow those above 12 years old access to HIV testing and contraceptives. This wasn’t without criticism, as the legal age for consent 16 years old, and some claimed that it excluded parental involvement in this particular provision.

Organisations such as Child Line, Child Welfare South Africa and Save the Children South Africa play an active role in protecting the welfare of children, particularly from poverty, lack of basic education and crime.

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