The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital treated 635 children for violence-related injuries from January to October.
The hospital released the child injury statistics last Thursday during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign.
The number includes 149 cases of neglect, 175 of physical abuse and 92 of sexual abuse.
Hospital spokesman Dwayne Evans says the statistics show a link between those cases and domestic violence as well as alcohol and drug abuse by negligent carers.
“There is no gender bias in the statistics as there is an even distribution,” he said.
The hospital had noted a growing trend of children with gunshot wounds from cases where they had been caught in gang crossfire, he said. The hospital’s medical manager, Dr Anita Parbhoo, said diverting resources to care for young victims of violence placed a burden on other services.
“It is terribly saddening and emotional and the entire hospital community is rocked by these cases,” she said.
Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo urged communities to take better care of their children.
“I would also like to appeal to doctors, nurses, teachers, friends, family and community members to have a heart, to have the courage to look, listen and to reach out and support children in need of care and protection.”
Suspected child abuse or neglect, by law, should be reported to a child protection organisation, the Provincial Department of Social Development or to the police.
The Children’s Hospital, through the Children’s Hospital Trust, is expanding the emergency centre, where many of these cases end up. It continues to fund-raise to meet the R122 million target. Visit www.childrenshospitaltrust.org.za to find out how you can help.