Protection for children from sexual predators top priority
Teenage pregnancy is a huge problem in our province. On so many occasions this paper has exposed the huge numbers of young girls who have fallen victim to sexual predators.
It was no mistake when MEC Nomakhasazana Meth last year said teen pregnancy needed to be declared a health crisis, as serious as the pandemic was.
On Thursday, we reported that a school principal and his fellow teacher had been put on precautionary suspension over allegations of sexual misconduct and violating school ethics involving three pupils ranging in age from 17 to 18. The matter around their school is not new.
In April, we reported that the Mbhashe subdistrict health report had flagged that in that area, during the 2022/2023 financial year, from April to March, health facility deliveries were up 19.5%, and youngsters aged 10 to 19 accounted for the majority of unwanted pregnancies.
At the same school where these two have been suspended, 20 girls were reported to have fallen pregnant last year. This year alone about 10 pupils are said to be pregnant at that school.
In a country like ours, with so many advanced pieces of legislation and regulations to protect children’s rights, it is shocking why it has taken so long for any action to be taken.
While it should be appreciated that finally there is some action on the matter, the department seems not to be doing enough to protect these children. More often it is reactive than proactive.
"In a country like ours, with so many advanced pieces of legislation and regulations to protect children’s rights, it is shocking why it has taken so long for any action to be taken. "
In 2021, the department of basic education compelled schools to report the pregnancies of underage girls to police.
So if it was known that there were children who were pregnant at the school, why did the authorities not use this regulation to ask the schools if the cases had been reported to the police?
The department amended the Employment of Educators Act so that a teacher found to have had a sexual relationship with or to have sexually abused a pupil is banned from teaching for life.
We anxiously wait to see if it will implement this law if anyone is found guilty at the school.
Similarly, what have the school governing body and teacher unions been doing to confront the situation?
There have been instances where parents also protect the sexual predators after some promises of funds and other goodies. That practice must stop.
Children are the future of this country. Everything must be done to protect them, including from the teachers as children spend much of their time at school.
Anyone found guilty of violating children must be sent to jail, especially sex predators.
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