State of SA children dire, report finds

State of SA children dire, report finds. Picture: File

State of SA children dire, report finds. Picture: File

Published Nov 23, 2023


With national Children’s Day and World Children’s Day celebrated in November, the spotlight has fallen on the well-being of children and the challenges they face.

The Mandela Foundation, with the help of audit company Deloitte, investigated the situation in South Africa and identified the difficulties affecting children.

In their report, “The State of the South African Child Report: Serve like Mandela”, they sought to shed light on the “alarming rates of violence, poverty, inequality, and inadequate access to essential services that continue to hinder the survival, growth, and development of children” and said poverty was a key problem, especially for children in rural areas.

They quoted the Unicef definition of child poverty as a situation in which a child was raised with limited access to or, in some cases, no access to, the essential resources they needed to survive and live well.

“The strain of living in poverty impacts a child’s overall well-being and limits their ability to fulfil their potential, and although South Africa has made great strides in driving development and economic transformation, inequality and poverty remains prevalent.”

They said an estimated 4 million children lived below the poverty line, and said too many children lacked basic necessities such as nutrition and clean water.

“Poverty in rural areas has been attributed to the lack of access to education, quality maintained infrastructure, health and financial markets, with limited employment opportunities further exacerbating the high rates,” the report said.

“Thousands of preventable deaths are recorded each year, ultimately reflecting the lack of resources and interventions to promote the realisation of the right to basic nutrition and basic health-care services.”

The death of children under 5, and malnutrition, remained the areas of most concern.

Stunting remained a challenge, and this was as a direct result of malnutrition which has remained one of the most prevalent development challenges across the globe for the past three decades. That pregnant mothers had no access to pre-natal sessions meant the health and nutrition of unborn children was already compromised.

“Once born, children face the reality of poor economic status where a lack of income results in poor nutritional intake which hinders children from reaching their full growth and developmental state, ultimately causing irreversible physical and cognitive damage.”

Education, or the lack to thereof; less than adequate living conditions, homelessness; and child safety were also key challenges. The situation had been heightened by Covid-19, the lockdowns, and the loss of jobs, the report said.

The high levels of violence in the country put children’s safety and survival at risk, and, considering the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and sociocultural factors involved, their development and well-being.

Violence against children occurred in many settings – the home, schools, workplaces, communities, and the internet in the form of cyberbullying or online sexual abuse, the report said.

Children in South Africa were exposed to different forms of violence throughout their childhood and even before birth through their mothers. “This exposure, whether directly or by being a witness to such violence, will undoubtedly have consequences on the psychology, life decisions, and future of these children.”

Pretoria News

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