Hospital records 226 child abuse cases

Red Cross War Memorial Childrens Hospital

With Child Protection Week commemorated annually from Sunday May 31 until this Sunday June 7, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Rondebosch has cautioned that it has seen a steady flow of children coming through the facility who have been victims of abuse, neglect and violence, even during the lockdown period.

Carla Brown, head of social work at the children’s hospital, said it was too early to tell if there had been an increase in child abuse and neglect cases during lockdown.

“As a tertiary hospital, we usually see the worst cases of abuse and violence against children here, and during the lockdown we know this hasn’t necessarily decreased,” she said.

Since the beginning of the year up until May 15, the children’s hospital has seen 226 cases of child abuse, neglect and /or violence.

In the cases of abuse broken down in months, January had 68 cases, February 34 cases, March 46 cases, April 48 cases and until May 15, 30 cases.

Dwayne Evans, spokesperson for the children’s hospital, said: “ We have to take a hard stand for the vulnerable in our society, and we call on everyone who witnesses or suspects child neglect and violence against children, to please step forward and report the cases.”

Dr Anita Parbhoo, medical manager at the children’s hospital, said the constitution had made children’s rights a priority, and children had a right to be protected and nurtured. “All of us have the responsibility to do our part in ensuring the best interest of the child, and the children’s hospital urges all adults to be advocates for children around them,”she said.

Mr Evans said the hospital and provincial Department of Health welcomed the appointment of the children’s commissioner for the Western Cape, Christina Nomdo.

“The role of the children’s commissioner is to give children a voice, and to explore how they experience poverty, crime and neglect, among others, and how these experiences impact children,” he said.

Sharna Fernandez, the MEC for Social Development, said they welcomed Child Protection Week though protection of children should not be limited to particular times or campaigns. “As we enter this new week, let’s remember all of our children in need of protection 365 days of the year, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Ms Fernandez said with the easing of the coronavirus restrictions from level 4 to level 3, and the ban on the sale of alcohol being lifted, she urged everyone to be extra vigilant of every child’s safety. “The protection and welfare of children is a collective responsibility, even when the child is not your own,” she said.

If you witness any cases of child abuse, you can call Childline South Africa at 0800 055 555, the provincial Department of Social Development toll-free at 0800 220 250, Child Welfare South Africa at 0861 424 453 or 011 452 4110 or email info@child
welfaresa.org.za