NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION WEEK 2017
By Suzanne Clulow
One in three children in South Africa experience some form of abuse during their lifetime.If we broaden our definition of abuse,over 65% of South African children have experienced direct victimisation.The recently released Optimus Study equates the number of children who have been sexually abused (784 967) to the population of Port Elizabeth and almost double that of Bloemfontein.
Some of the direct and indirect determinants of violence against children were studied by the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town. They found that children who do not live with their parents, come from household with scarce financial resources and where conflict and family temper are high are more at risk of experiencing violence.
In 2016, CINDI participated in some research on the impact of social grants and children’s wellbeing and care. This study highlighted how social grants can address some of the risk factors associated with violence against children. The adults and children participants shared about the important role that social grants play in helping parents look after their children, alleviating extreme poverty and reducing household stress and conflict.
Approximately 12 million children benefit from the child support grant every month. Relying on a regular, predictable source of income helps caregivers to plan for the month and reduces their stress and worry. In many household, grants are the only source of income.
However, recent increases in food prices and economic challenges in the country have caused many to be concerned about just how far the grant can stretch. PACSA, a social justice NGO based in Pietermaritzburg, track the monthly costs of food prices in the food baskets of low-income households. Their March 2017 report shows that the grant falls well short (39%) of meeting the cost of a basic but nutritionally complete monthly diet for a boy/girl child.
Clearly, the Child Support Grant has an important role to play in a child’s wellbeing and healthy development; but if it fails to increase with the food poverty line then these outcomes can be reduced. Household financial stress can lead to conflict and violence, increasing the risk of children becoming victims of this.
The continued regular payment of the Child Support Grant and an increase in its value are issues that CINDI members are advocating for as part of our efforts to end violence against children.