About this year's
Child Trauma Conference
The typical mechanisms and spaces where children were able to access help and support also changed significantly. School, playgrounds, parks and clubs are spaces where children have the support of peers and some caring adults, and with the lockdown, these mechanisms were no longer available to children. Child protection organisations whose mandate it is to intervene in the lives of children should there be any concerns, were no longer available.
This has had, and continues to have, an extreme impact on the accessibility and quality of services delivered to children and families. Other aspects of trauma that has further impacted South African children recently include the floods in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the political unrest in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.
The current reality for our children and youth is that many now suffer from mental health crises, with little to no support available to provide relief. And we know that our most vulnerable children will have fewer opportunities to get help for their mental health
African children were
extremely vulnerable before Covid-19.
Violence and poverty, abuse and poor physical
and mental health are but a few examples. The Covid19 pandemic has impacted every
aspect of children’s lives, and this has significantly exacerbated all these challenges.
As a result of the pandemic and lockdown we are faced with:
More than 60% of South African children live in poverty, resulting in no proper access to food, quality education, medical care and safe housing. There are also other contributing factors such as exposure to extreme heat, cold, poor sanitation, floods and fire hazards.
Children reliant on the National School Nutrition Programme were not able to access the only nutritious meal that they have during the day.
One in three children experienced some form of sexual abuse.
One in three children experienced physical abuse at home.
New forms of abuse keep emerging including cyberbullying, being exposed to and exploited for child pornography or being trafficked for labour or the sex trade.
Child-on-child sexual abuse and the amount of self-generated pornography by children has increased, with more children accessing pornography on the internet daily.
In the 15-24 age group, suicide is the second leading and fastest growing cause of death in South Africa.
An increase is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is extremely prevalent due to violence in homes, communities and at schools.
Substance abuse is prevalent and increasing alarmingly.
15% of children live with disabilities.
Our education system was fragile before COVID. Four in ten learners showed even minimum mathematical proficiencies in 2019. (TIMMS)
Nearly 95,000 South African children have lost parents and guardians, the highest
number of COVID orphans on the continent. (UNICEF)