Over the December holidays, there are often cases of missing children and child abandonment, reported to the Provincial Department of Social Development. This is caused by, amongst others, children being left alone, and parents abusing substances including alcohol and narcotics. In turn, they neglect their duty of care towards children.
For this reason, the Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, is calling on parents and legal guardians to take the necessary precautions over the December break. Above all, Minister Fritz calls on all parents and caregivers to act with the necessary responsibility and discipline to ensure that no child is harmed.
Recent child protection statistics reveal that between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 38 cases of child abandonment in the Western Cape. The period with the highest number of missing children was between October and December 2017, with 13 cases of child abandonment.
MEC Fritz said, “If your child has gone missing, please do not wait to report this to the police! The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will find your child. The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial in finding a child.”
“As parents and guardians, the duty falls upon you to teach children about their personal safety. Your child must be taught to always keep all entrances and gates closed and locked, and that nobody should enter without permission from either parent. If you have a home security system installed, teach them how to activate and deactivate it, and to use other security devices like panic buttons”, said MEC Fritz.
MEC Fritz further added, “Your children should also have a list of emergency contact numbers saved on their cell phones and available at home near the telephone or on the fridge. These numbers should include the local police station, emergency medical service, the emergency number for your neighbourhood watch, a trusted neighbour, and your private security company. Before visiting public spaces such as shopping malls, your children should know their vital information, including full names, home address and the contact details of one of their parents.”
The Provincial Department of Social Development, under the leadership of Albert Fritz, remains committed to keeping children safe and protected particularly over the festive break.