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South Africa, 28 May 2018: Child Protection Week: UNICEF calls for an end to violence against children

PRETORIA, South Africa, 28 May 2018 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) views Child Protection Week as a key opportunity to shine a spotlight on children’s issues, highlight successes and identify what still needs to be done.

Despite the notable strides that have been made since the advent of democracy, violence is a daily reality for too many children in South Africa and the facts below are a call to action:

  • 1 in 3 children experience violence prior to age 18, including physical and sexual violence.
  • 50 per cent of children affected by violence experience it more than once.
  • South Africa’s child homicide rate is double the global average, nearly half of all child homicide cases are due to abuse and neglect.
  • Teenage boys (15-17 years) are more likely to be killed outside their homes in conflict with their peers or as a consequence of gang violence.
  • Most violence happens in places where children should be most safe – their homes, schools and local communities; and mainly perpetrated by persons closest to the child

From its globally-admired Constitution to the Child Support Grant, this week is a reminder of what has been achieved, but also what still needs to be done. We call upon all involved to end violence and as per the Sustainable Development Goal to stand united to end violence by end 2030 as part of the Global Partnership to End Violence, of which South Africa became a member in 2017. Accountability by all stakeholders is critical and there needs to be a commitment to promote gender equality underlying all these efforts.

  • We need more coordinated action by all actors to create circles of care for children.
  • Families need to be supported to protect their children and use parenting skills that avoid violence.
  • Health workers, teachers and other professionals need to be able to identify and refer families and children to support services.
  • We all need to commit to changing social norms that underpin violence, such as gender norms that promote violent forms of masculinity and the stigma associated with reporting family violence.
  • Religious and community leaders, artists and men and boys have a particularly important role to play in providing positive role models and speaking out against violence.
  • Police, social workers and judiciary need to ensure that when children or families report violence, effective timely action is taken to keep them safe, and services are available to support their recovery.
  • Government and the private sector needs to urgently scale up funding and support prevention and early intervention programmes. For instance, Isibindi is a community-based programme that strengthens families and helps to protect children from abuse, neglect and violence. Endorsed by the South African Government, Isibindi focuses on the psychosocial wellbeing of children and adolescents by supporting positive caregiving and dialogue in the most disadvantaged communities, and assisting families to access key services. Through combining home visits and Safe Parks which are safe spaces for recreation and learning for at-risk children, Isibindi is driving positive change, and offers hope and opportunities for children at risk across the country.

In her remarks at the launch of Child Protection Week in Pretoria, Mayke Huijbregts, the Chief of Social Policy and Child Protection, noted that “only by standing up and being united, we can combat the scourge of violence and create a safe home and school for every child so that all children can grow up without feeling scared and unsafe.”


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

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For more information, please contact:

Sandra Bisin, Chief of Communications, UNICEF South Africa, +27 61 418 7486,

Sudeshan Reddy, Communication Specialist, UNICEF South Africa, +27 82 561 3970,



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