A YEAR OF CHILD PROTECTION
During the course of 2020 – despite the challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations and restrictions – Cause for Justice (“CFJ”) continued to seek out and seize opportunities to promote child protection and prevent child exploitation. We may have been physically “locked down” for a couple of months, but we definitely did not allow that to stop us from attending virtual meetings and webinars; engaging with fellow child protection stakeholders; and contributing to child protection forums.
ENGAGING KEY LOCAL AND PROVINCIAL FORUMS AND STAKEHOLDERS
We are proud to be a member of the Helderberg Child Protection Forum. It is an honour and privilege to work alongside dedicated organisations that protect children on “grass roots level”, working hard in our local communities, in the Helderberg area. The Forum is a meeting place where we share can our concerns, provide each other with support, and brainstorm strategic collaboration opportunities. We know that together, we can make a positive impact in our immediate environment and local communities.
In August, we had the privilege of meeting Ms Christina Nomdo, the newly appointed Western Cape Children’s Commissioner. The Commissioner is tasked with the mandate to provide oversight (i.e. act as a watchdog) for children’s rights and children’s voices in the Western Cape.
We have also been invited to apply for membership of the Western Cape Provincial Children and Families Forum and are in the process of finalising our application. We look forward to joining and contributing to the Forum in the new year.
CHILD PROTECTION WEEK 2020
This year we celebrated national Child Protection Week by honouring organisations who work passionately and tirelessly to protect children and to prevent and respond to child exploitation.
WORKSHOPS AND WEBINARS
In February, we were invited to a Child Exploitation Empowerment Workshop presented by Ezrah Training and Development in partnership with Valcare. Attendees learnt about the dynamics of sexual offending; how to guide the internet generation through the digital landscape; how to work together to find solutions to trafficking in children and child labour; and cyberbullying and internet safety.CFJ Legal Advisor, Liesl Pretorius, gave a presentation on the “Legislative Framework of Online Child Exploitation in South Africa” at the Jelly Beanz and Child Trauma Training Online Sexual Exploitation of Children two-day training event. The event was attended by social workers, psychologists and medical doctors; and covered topics such as understanding the many faces of online sexual exploitation; how to talk to children about online sexual exploitation; legislative changes related to pornography, sexting and grooming of children; and interventions for children addicted to pornography.
In October, we attended the two day African Child Trauma Conference (ACTC). The ACTC “provides a unique and accessible platform for child protection stakeholders to connect with investors, scientists, technical experts, development partners, government organisations and civil society to share and consolidate their vision, building consensus and forging new and innovative partnerships to accelerate change in the landscape of child protection in Africa”.
The two days were filled with informative and insightful presentations by a diverse range of experts on important issues such as connectedness during lockdown; prevention and response to sexual exploitation; the role of fathers in breaking cycles of violence; and psycho-social interventions to trauma.
We have been attending the National Department of Social Development 365 Days of Child Protection Webinar Series which covers topics such as creating safety nets for exploited children, creating awareness on online and child trafficking risks, and online safety of children. During October, CFJ Legal Advisor, Liesl Pretorius, gave a presentation on “Pornproofing Children’s Spaces: Necessity and Practical Steps” which included an easy-to-use tool on how to pornproof your home or school, and introduced the attendees to our #ParentTalk on the Unspoken Epidemic of Pornography and Children and other useful resources
LAW AND POLICY MAKING
We have also been participating in numerous law and policy-making forums. Good laws and policies play a crucial role in – and provide the legislative framework necessary for – effective child protection.
This year, CFJ became a member of the newly founded South African National Child Rights Coalition, a coalition of child protection organisations passionate about promoting and protecting children’s rights in South Africa. We were able to contribute to a joint submission to the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child concerned with identifying issues the South African government should report on to the United Nations. CFJ’s contribution was specifically concerned with and highlighted the need for the government to report on the harmful impact of pornography on children.
We are also currently preparing and finalising our substantive written submissions on the Children’s Amendment Bill, 2020. During 2018, we submitted written commentaries on two previous versions of the Bill.
Our submissions focus primarily creating a legislative obligation to protect children from exposure to potentially disturbing or harmful materials and from premature exposure to adult experiences, and to give content to such obligation in so far as it applies to the media, parents, caregivers, guardians and other accountable persons in relation to the well-being and best interest of children.
STANDING TOGETHER TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM EXPLOITATION
The year is not yet over, and we are looking forward to continue engaging stakeholders and taking up opportunities to contribute to and strengthen the child protection sector.