Child abuse at home
Children are being raped, murdered and abused by those they should be able to trust the most: Their families. What can be done?
Somewhere in between the other headlines is something even a news-hardened person will read, reread and read again in disbelief: “Baby, 5 months, murdered in Delmas”.

If that doesn’t provoke a gut reaction from you, then you could be suffering from news-fatigue.

There are weekly stories of family murders, brutal rapes of children, kids being assaulted, abused and killed, often by those whom they, in a healthy social environment, should trust the most: Their families.

Are you sick and tired of reading these things?

What is equally appalling is that many horrific true-life horrors never make it into the media.

They are sad footnotes to private papers which are tucked away in social services archives, or tagged pieces of evidence offered in courtrooms where justice is fair according to the law, but seldom comes close to offering solace to those left traumatised or bereaved.

The crime statistics are those reported to the police, and don’t express the reality of the violence which occurs in thousands of households across South Africa each day.
  • 54 225 crimes against children reported in 2010/2011.
  • About half of those cases were sexual offences: 28 128.
  • Around 30% of sex crimes against children involve victims under 10 years of age.
  • Over 900 children were murdered during the period.
  • Research has shown that in most abuse cases, the offenders are known to the children.
  • Crimes against children are grossly under reported and the real figure is much higher.
The majority of you will not be involved in crimes against children. You’ll be normal people - the nice families from next door- but what about those people next door to you? Or in the next suburb, or in the same city? Someone is responsible for hurting our kids, and, if we can’t prevent individual incidents from taking place, then what can we do?

Here’s one initiative you could support:

Unite behind the goal of zero child abuse, urges Unicef

Unicef is calling on all South Africans to unite behind the goal of zero violence against children. In the run up to Child Protection Week (28 May- 3 June), its newly launched ‘Believe in Zero’ campaign highlights the role that everyone – not only the authorities – has to play in the protection of children.

“South Africa’s levels of violence against children are among the highest in the world. Tens of thousands of children are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation every year – and offenders often go unpunished,” says Aida Girma, Unicef Representative.

Unicef Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka has added her voice to the Believe in Zero campaign: “Child protection starts with every one of us, as individuals – no matter who we are and where we live.” Unicef is driving the Believe in Zero initiative online.

A specially designed Facebook app urges people to express their support, upload photos or videos, post messages and engage their networks on the goal of zero child abuse.

Among those people who share their views through the app, one passionate supporter will be given the chance to take a field trip with UNICEF to see first-hand how the organisation works with partners – and children themselves – towards the fulfillment of child rights.

To find out more about Believe in Zero, or participate in the campaign, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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