Protecting children in Africa

Posted on August 9, 2015 11:33 am

In Africa,local governments are responsible for the administration and operation of child protection services. Legislative Acts in most African countries govern the way such services are provided.Sadly,more and more children in Africa are facing threats of violence, sexual abuse and even death despite the presence of laws that should be protecting them. The top layer of threat is poverty facing tens of millions of African children.Though the continent of more than 1 billion people has seen some of its progressive countries achieved middle-income status from the World Bank, nearly 100 million, or close to 40 percent of Africa children still live on less than $1 a day.While fighting poverty is a complex and a multidimensional effort, African countries should provide more aid to underprivileged families to keep their children in school and prevent them from going hungry and becoming malnourished.The other major threat comes in the form of violence and abuse.According to government data in countries like Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria that I have managed to peruse,one in 6 boys between the ages of 13 and 18 experience some form of sexual violence.The figure stands at one in 3 for young girls in the same age group.Their assailants are often people who are close to them, making these children vulnerable at home and school.If Contador Harrison had his wishes, he would propose African countries to establish a specific procedure to handle such threats, including an early warning system involving neighbors, family members and the police.

Another interesting threat that I have come across comes from organized crime, with scores of children, including toddlers and babies, being exploited on busy city streets and forced to work as beggars by a syndicate and it seems there is nothing the authorities or the public can do to stop it. It not uncommon to see children begging on the streets of African cities.The former should have the ability to easily crack down on these criminals, but they only seem to condone the practice.Despite an alarming increase in the number of child abuse cases in recent years, many African still believe their own children could never be exposed to these threats, resulting in an almost lax approach to enforcing child protection laws.It would be prudent for African countries to review the current regulations and allow the courts to take a tougher stance on crimes against minors by enforcing longer jail terms. More importantly, African countries simply cannot continue to do nothing and allow these threats to escalate.Improving the educational outcomes of children involved in statutory child protection services has to be a high priority for African countries. The proposed linked dataset on the educational activity and outcomes of children while in child protection services, to allow ongoing and longitudinal monitoring of the academic progress, and to better inform policy, practice and planning of activities to support children by researchers in their recommendation to the African Union under vision 2060 need to be debated and implemented by all member states.

Contador Harrison