MINISTER ALBERT FRITZ
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Today is the start of Child Protection Week. The Western Cape Department of Social Development has however extended this focus into Child Protection Month, which will run from 28 May until 28 June 2012.
This follows our recent focus on International Day of families and therefore we have an expanded focus on children and families. As a province, we chose to place an emphasis on the integration of children with disabilities, with other children and some of our objectives are:
* to strengthen positive interaction between family members
* to model positive discipline
* to demonstrate families working together to achieve a common goal
* to educate parents /caregivers about their responsibilities and rights in the protection of children
* to promote inclusion of children with all forms of disabilities
It is important that parents understand the various options involved in protecting and safeguarding their children. Particularly with disabled children, we still find too many cases in our townships where children are chained or locked up in a shack, while the parents are at work. We currently have 6 service centres across the province, particularly for disabled persons. We are also working with ECDs to capacitate them to accommodate persons with disabilities at their facilities, in an attempt to rapidly increase access to safe alternatives.
The 2-6 afterschool programme at our MOD centres, is another vital and easily accessible avenue of safety which parents should be aware of. It should especially be encouraged where children would ordinarily be home alone during this time. Not only is the programme geared toward positive behaviour change and diversion from anti-social behaviour, but it also offers parents the peace of mind that their children are in a safe environment and less likely to be at risk of harm.
Protecting our children should not be limited to themes and time frames set by government. As parents, community leaders, NGOs, FBOs, etc we should always have the safety of children at heart. As a government, we can extend opportunities to increase safe spaces for our children, and with the support and cooperation of the community, we can make our children’s lives better together.