|A police officer and social worker speak to students at Lyndhurst Primary School, in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. A student was recently raped while walking home from school.|
By Katarzyna Pawelczyk
PRETORIA, South Africa, 2 May 2012 – UNICEF is calling on all South Africans to unite behind the goal of reducing violence against children to zero.
In the run-up to Child Protection Week, which will occur from 28 May to 3 June, the newly launched ‘Believe in Zero’ campaign highlights the role that everyone has to play in the protection of children.
Among the world’s highest abuse rates
“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,” said UNICEF Representative in South Africa Aida Girma.
Statistics from the South African Police Service show there were more than 54,000 reported crimes against children between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2011. However, crimes against children are grossly underreported and the real figure is believed to be much higher.
Sexual offences make up about half the reported figure. Around 30 per cent of these victims are under 10 years old. Research has shown that in most abuse cases, the offenders are known to the children.
Support for Believe in Zero
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,” she said.
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 friends on the goal of eliminating child abuse.
Among those who share their views through the app, one passionate supporter from South Africa will be given the chance to take a field trip with UNICEF to see first-hand how the organization works with partners – and children themselves – towards the fulfillment of child rights.
Believe in Zero