November 20th, “World Children’s Day”

SOS Children’s Villages South Africa commemorates World Children’s Day (20 November).

World Children’s Day, first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day, is celebrated annually on 20 November to recognise children’s rights, promote international togetherness, awareness, and improve children’s welfare. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Child protection is critical, and more than ever during lockdown as a result of the COVID pandemic. This pandemic has brought many challenges in terms of child protection and child rights violations.

Prevention and awareness campaigns on child protection and children’s rights, as well as reporting and responding to child abuse cases should now be our primary focus. We need to strengthen child protection by ensuring we check in on children and families – emotional support is key”, says Ephraim Sithole, National Child Safeguarding Officer at SOS Children’s Villages.

While adults are hardest impacted by COVID-19, SOS Children’s Villages urge authorities to also recognise that the pandemic is deeply affecting the environment in which children grow and develop, from early childhood to adolescence.

We know that the disease and efforts to stem it will affect the health, well-being and future of the world’s children. It is vital that governments design their responses in a way that protects children’s rights to survival and development, their physical and mental health, nutrition, protection, education, well-being and care, as well as their right to be informed and to be heard.

World Children’s Day offers an opportunity to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.

This year is special, marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18; it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity.

In South Africa, the inclusion in the Bill of Rights of a special section on the rights of the child was an important development for the children. Children need special protection because they are among the most vulnerable members of society. They are dependent on others – their parents and families, or the state when these fail – for care and protection. As a result, the drafters of our Constitution have made children’s rights a priority – and have stated that the best interests of a child are the overriding concern when it comes to any matter affecting him or her.

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About SOS Children’s Villages South Africa

SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of South Africa’s most marginalised children. We offer loving, family-like care for children and young people who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. Established in 1984, SOS has eight Children’s Villages and three Social Centres across eight provinces.

Each year our Alternative Care, Family Strengthening and Youth Employability programmes provide life-changing support to children and families across the country.

The Alternative Care model comprises of four principles that include a mother (each child has a caring parent), brothers and sisters (the family ties grow naturally), a house (a secure place to grow up in) and a village (the SOS family is part of the community).

Our Family Strengthening Programme aims to enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their families to grow within a safe family environment. We work in co-operation with local authorities and other service providers to empower families and communities to effectively protect and care for their children.

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