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A recent UNICEF report stated there were 54 000 reported crimes against children between the end of March last year and April this year. In line with this and the annual National Child Protection Week form the 28th May to the 3rd June 2012; the need to highlight and tackle issues relating to child abuse and protection has become ever more prominent.

During this week, the Adopt-a-School Foundation has initiated a child protection awareness campaign, which will be introduced to the learners of Diepsloot Combined School.  The campaign will culminate on International Children’s Day, the 1st of June 2012. Advocating child protection, this day will feature guest speakers from both government and South Africa’s most prominent child protection NGOs including; the National Children and Violence Trust, Teddy Bear Clinic, Young and Able, Brainwave, Child Protection Unit, Department of Basic Education and the Department of Social Development. The main aim of this event is to raise awareness within the school community regarding child protection as well as provide a network of valuable services to children in need.

In highlighting the role of abuse in the community, this event will aim to empower/educate not only the learners; but parents, the educators and the broader community on child abuse. By highlighting the services that the various agencies provide, it will enable learners to take active steps to not only report child abuse, to recognise and access the necessary support systems available.  A key focus area of the Adopt-a-School Foundation’s Whole School Development Model is the social welfare of learners because it impacts so heavily on a child’s ability to learn and grow.

The International Children’s Day Child Protection Awareness Day will start at Diepsloot Combined School at 10:00 and run until 13:00, whereby learners will receive sponsored lunch and hear entertaining and insightful presentations on child protection. The event will be hosted by Thabo Njabulo Sishaba.  Thabo is member of the Toastmaster Soweto, a swimming coach, public speaking coach as well as a seasoned actor last appearing on Soul City.

Child abuse in South Africa is alarming, a number of statistics showcase the burden of the problem.  Of the 54000 child abuse cases reported, sexual offences make up about half of this figure, while around 30 per cent of these victims are under the age of 10 years. This frightening pandemic is made significantly worse by a lack of reporting in child abuse incidents. The implications of these terrible crimes going unreported, means that victims do not receive the necessary support that they need and perpetrators are held unaccountable for their actions. Therefore, as South Africans, we need to band together as protecting our children means that children should grow up in an environment that is safe from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

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