A “street child” is a child who, due to abuse, neglect, poverty, community disorder or any other reason, has left his/her home, family or community and lives, begs or works or/and can also commit crimes on the streets.
It can include a child who, because of inadequate care, begs or works on the streets, but returns home at night. The Children’s Act no 38 of 2005 defines any child living, working or begging on the street as a child in need of care and protection. These children are often as young as 8 or 9 years old, therefore minor children. The Department of Social Development and Social Justice want to rehabilitate the children.
The following is a basic process to follow in this regard:
- We can make use of social structures in place and must act within the legal guidelines provided in both the Child Justice Act 2008 and the Children’s Act no 38 of 2005.
- The Child Justice Act 2008 focuses on children who are in conflict with the law and are accused of committing offences. The Children’s Act no 38 of 2005 deals with matters relating to the care and protection of children, in general.
- Report street children to SAPS (South African Police Services) or to your local Department of Social Development (DSD) office (regional office in Vredenburg 022 713 2272). By law DSD and SAPS must respond to any children living, working or begging on the street. By law anyone may fill out a Form 22 to report a child living, working or begging on the street to DSD.
- Enter hpcsa.co.za/uploads/editor/UserFiles/FORM_22.pdf in your internet browser to download Form 22.
- When reporting a case of abuse or neglect to an appropriate authority, ensure that Form 22 is completed. This form triggers a child protection investigation by a designated Social Worker. If after investigation by the Social Worker, the minor child is referred to a Probation Officer, in turn the child can be referred to a rehabilitation program and safe place such as a designated shelter/NGO.
NOTE: Do not approach or take these children home, to your home, or SAPS offices. Only designated social workers and the police may remove a child without parental consent.
Issued by your Darling Watch Neighbourhood Watch. For more information on how to become a member please contact Gary Barrows at firstname.lastname@example.org