Editorial: Must stem tide of child abuse

While there is often cynicism over the effectiveness of well-intentioned campaigns against violence and abuse which have a limited time span, they are preferable to a vacuum.

Awareness – if it stops just one more vulnerable person becoming a victim – has at least achieved something.

The scourge of child abuse is a disease which demands our constant vigilance and all-out efforts to curb. And yet there is anguish, suffering and irreparable harm which continue to blight our communities – many horrors going undetected.

In a week dedicated to focusing attention on the protection of children, the figure of more than 600 abuse cases in the Eastern Cape over a 24-month period should shock and startle.

But the bleak reality is that statistics begin to have an anaesthetising effect on a society which is only too aware of past atrocities and the ever present threat to children – a sickeningly high number of whom are preyed upon by people known to them.

While provincial social development authorities acknowledge a disturbing spike in violence against children, along with child trafficking, and talk the talk about tackling it, that doesn’t always appear to be translating into action on the ground.

Childline Eastern Cape, which provides crucial counselling to about 10 000 survivors of abuse and rape every year, is having to cut back on what it can offer – and may even have to shut down – because Bhisho is stalling on subsidies to a number of NGOs.

Budget restraints are also a reality for the authorities, but there really can be no compromise when it comes to the safety and protection of young lives, even if it means cutting back on other less essential services.

At the same time, we all have a responsibility to do that much more.

We have to stem this tide of violence against innocents.

It can only stop if we stop – and take notice.

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