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Children's Act to be promoted in Child Protection Week

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Children's Act to be promoted in Child Protection Week

by Bathandwa Mbola
12 May 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Children's Act is to be used as an instrument to fight child poverty and promote the rights of children during Child Protection Week to be held next week.

Held under the theme "Getting South Africa ready to implement the Children's Act", Child Protection Week will kick off on 27 May when a conference on the implementation of the new Children's Act will be held at the Birchwood Conference Centre.

International Children's Day is commemorated on 1 June.

According to the Department of Social Development, the objectives of the conference are to determine South Africa's inter-sectoral readiness to implement the Children's Act and the implications thereof.

The events leading up to Child Protection Week will be aimed at raising awareness and understanding on the Children's Act and promoting commitment to the implementation plans, best practice models and services to children, among others.

Central to the fight against poverty, the department said that this year the focus would be on improving the quality of life of children, through alleviating poverty and ensuring that they receive all the services that they are entitled to in terms of the Constitution will be highlighted during the celebrations.

In a statement the department said over the years the previous Child Care Act had become outdated and no longer protected children adequately.

The newly-enacted Children's Act comprehensively provides for the framework for children to enjoy their rights and services such as protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.

The Act came into effect in July last year triggering mixed reactions because it allowed children to undergo HIV and AIDS testing without the consent of their parents and they may also access contraceptives.

The Act provides that children should be provided with access to contraceptives, because of the fact that children are sexually active at a very young age, even though the legal age of consent is 16.

Furthermore, given HIV and AIDS, especially among teenagers, it would be unwise to deny children access to condoms, the department maintained.

According to the department, the provision of the reproductive health services to minors would help government detect children who were in need of care.

The department is mindful of the fact that a sexually active child may be a child in need of care.

Therefore it said that the health practitioners would be required to report suspicious cases to a child protection organisation, social workers, police officers or children's court.

"The child would then receive proper attention and assistance. This would assist children who are abused, neglected and exploited," the department said.

It further emphasised that access to contraceptives should go hand in hand with appropriate sexuality education.

The main objectives of the Children's Act are to promote the preservation and strengthening of families; give effect to certain constitutional rights of children; give effect to government's obligations concerning the well-being of children in terms of international instruments and to make provision for structures, services and means for promoting and monitoring the sound physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional and social development of children.

The Act further protects children from discrimination, exploitation and any other physical, emotional or moral harm or hazards. - BuaNews

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