The local branch of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef) is calling on all South Africans to take a stand against rampant child abuse by believing in zero.
Unicef’s new Believe in Zero campaign, launched to coincide with Child Protection Week from May 28 to June 3, is a call to arms based on the organisation’s motto that one child abused is too many.
Local Unicef spokesperson Aida Girma said the inter-active campaign, driven by social networking site Facebook, is crucial as South Africa’s levels of violence against children are among the highest in the world: “Tens of thousands of children are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation every year — and offenders often go unpunished.”
Statistics from the South African Police Service show that there were more than 54 000 crimes committed against children in 2010/2011. Over 28 100 of these crimes were sexual offenses, and around 30% involved children younger than 10.
However, crimes against children are often underreported and experts say the actual statistic are most certainly far higher.
The Believe in Zero campaign aims to raise awareness of child abuse and empower South Africans to play an active role in child protection.
The campaign will be run through a specially-designed Facebook application. Members of the public will be able to can post messages, photos, videos and comments to tell the world why they “believe in zero” and what zero abuse means to them.
Users can share posts and vote for their favourite posts. The person with the most votes for a particular post will be invited to join a field trip with Unicef in South Africa, which Girma said will be a first-hand experience of how the organisation and its partners are achieving change for children.
Local celebrity and Unicef ambassador, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, endorsed the campaign and encouraged South Africans to log-in and join the fight against abuse: “Child protection starts with every one of us, as individuals, no matter who we are and where we live.”
© The Big Issue South Africa