Education is a constitutional right and a basic human right which every child should be enjoying. In a South Africa that has realised total change and a new beginning, the rights of every child are recognised, respected and upheld.
This is the South Africa that the DA is working hard to realise.
Government has the responsibility to ensure that schools are a safe learning environment for our children, and that every learner is safeguarded from sexual abuse in our schools.
Under the ANC government in Gauteng, learner safety has long been neglected, with sexual abuse claims in schools kept hidden by teachers and education officials while the conviction rate of sexual predators has been at the most minimal.
The Gauteng Education Department has evidently taken very few measures to address the rising sexual abuse cases which have become rampant in our schools.
As the DA, we believe that all learners must be protected and be made aware of processes which they need follow to report sexual abuse cases. It is important that an environment is created where learners can report these crimes in a confidential manner and in which they are offered the emotional support that they deserve.
It is a well-known reality that learners who have experienced sexual abuse, violence, assault or any form of bullying suffer deep psychological damage which affects their ability to learn, placing their bright futures at risk.
To ensure that learners are protected from paedophiles, the DA believes that government needs to increase the number of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units currently available within the South African Police Service. This will ensure that the areas of operation for these units are reduced in size, with a more local focus when solving cases related to sexual assaults.
Government must start now with capacitating these units in the SAPS.
Additionally, we also call for the Gauteng Department of Education to:
- Create a free, confidential web-based or toll free platform in which learners are able to report sexual abuse related cases and any other forms of abuse at schools in the province;
- Ensure that learners are made aware of their rights and the processes to follow should they fall victim to sexual abuse; and
- Link each school in the province to a SAPS officer with specialized family violence, child protection and sexual offenses investigative skills.
The DA will continue the fight to ensure that every child’s learning environment is free from intimidation, sexual abuse and any other form of violence.
South Africa deserves total change that will ensure a new beginning that fully upholds the rights of children while protecting them from any abuse or harm, creating a safer today that will guarantee a brighter tomorrow.
Our children deserve this new beginning.