The Covid pandemic has been very hard on children, says Taslynn de Wee from Safeline Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Centre.
“Our children have experienced so much trauma during the last two years of the Covid pandemic – grieving, breakdown in school attendance, unemployment, and lack of supervision while being at home, among others. These challenges have caused immense mental breakdown.”
Ms De Wee was speaking during a child safety awareness programme that the organisation ran in Heideveld on Thursday June 2, during National Child Protection Week, from Sunday May 29 to Sunday June 5.
The event, with the theme, “Let’s protect our children together, through Covid-19 and beyond”, was held at the Great Commission Church.
Devine English, the health-promotion officer at Heideveld day hospital, spoke to the children from two creches in the area, Olga’s Educare and Goal 50 Edu Hub, about the hazards posed by water, fire, roads and electrical appliances.
“It’s every child’s right to live in a safe and healthy environment,” she said.
Candles were lit in memory of all those children who died because of abuse or violence.
“We also stand here today united in prayer with all the families who have experienced a severe loss, through horrific deaths of their children,” said Ms De Wee.
Violence against children was still a big problem in South Africa despite the country’s progressive child-protection laws, policies and programmes, she said.
Michelle van Niekerk, principal of Goal 50 Edu Hub, said: “We as adults might think that children their age are too young to grasp the kind of information they received today, but they are very clever. They can operate cellphones and tablets better than adults at times. They answered all the safety questions correctly. We should have awareness programmes throughout the year, as the children grow up, see or hear about murders or rapes. There are so many things happening around them.”