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It is common knowledge that one of the greatest ills plaguing our democracy is the neglect and abuse of children. Our Constitution entrenches children’s rights in our society, which include the right to safety and security, and parliament has given effect to such rights by enacting the Children’s Act, 34 of 2005.

The Children’s The Act states clearly that a child is in need of care and protection if, the child:

  • has been abandoned or orphaned and is without any visible means of support
  • displays behaviour which cannot be controlled by the parent or care-giver
  • lives or works on the streets or begs for a living
  • is addicted to a dependence-producing substance and is without any support to obtain treatment for such dependency
  • has been exploited or lives in circumstances that expose the child to exploitation
  • lives in or is exposed to circumstances which may seriously harm that child’s physical, mental or social well-being
  • may be at risk if returned to the custody of the parent, guardian or care-giver of the child if there is reason to believe that he/she will live in or be exposed to circumstances which may seriously harm the physical, mental or social well-being of the child
  • is in a state of physical or mental neglect
  • is being maltreated, abused, deliberately neglected or degraded by a parent, a care-giver, a person who has parental responsibilities and rights or a family member of the child or by a person under whose control the child is
  • is a victim of child labour
  • is in a child-headed household.

While any member of the public can approach the court in the interests of a child, as the circumstances of every situation differ from case to case, it is advisable that the person who intends to act in the interests of the child in question, approach a children’s law practitioner for proper advice and assistance.

Child neglect and abuse is an ever growing plague in society which can be properly addressed and quashed if members of the public are aware of the legal framework that exists to deal with it. Ultimately we must all assist in ensuring that the best interests of all children within the Republic are properly secured and catered for.

For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.

Read more about our child law services.

Author – Jessica Gooding

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