South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (22017-2022) calls for a strong focus in improving the prevention of HIV infection among young women and girls. The rate of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women currently stands at 2000 every week! The Plan aims to reduce this number to at least 800 per week by the year 2022.
Teenage pregnancy and bullying are also highlighted as some of the many challenges South Africa needs to tackle in order to provide an environment that is safe for children.
As we commemorate Child Protection Week 2017, let us ask ourselves, what are we doing as individuals and communities to make South Africa a better place.
Childline South Africa suggests the following ways to ensure the safety of children, so let your actions count:
- Provide a quiet, uninterrupted time each day to ask your children about their daily activities. This will give them an opportunity to tell you about things that may be worrying them, should such a situation arise.
- Never send children alone to the shop or on other errands.
- Always check the references of any new baby-sitters, care-givers or nursery schools.
- Don’t let children go to shopping malls or places of entertainment unless supervised by a responsible adult.
- Remember safety in numbers: If children walk to school or use public transport, ensure that they know to go with at least one friend.
- Under no circumstances leave a child waiting unattended outside school or other places.
- Accompany children to toilets in public places.
- When children are invited to visit or stay overnight, always get to meet the family before giving your permission.
- Monitor the content of films and television programmes watched by your children and use the parental control button on the remote where available.
- Make sure that your electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers, are password protected to prevent unsupervised use by children.
- Introduce a house rule: No hitching of lifts or accepting lifts from strangers at any time.
- Ask questions if a child starts coming home with extra money or unexplained gifts.