Photo: Supplied by the Department of Social Development.
Bhisho, 13 July 2023: Today, members of the children’s parliament from various provinces are in the Eastern Cape for the 11th sitting of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament, scheduled for tomorrow, 14 July 2023.
The Children’s Parliament, which is part of celebrating the life and times of President Nelson Mandela is held by the Department of Social Development in collaboration with development partners like Save the Children South Africa, UNICEF, and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
According to the Department of Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant, members participated in different commissions discussing violence against children, cyberbullying, teenage pregnancy, mental health, and their submissions to Pillar 7 of the NSP on GBVF as recommended by the Presidential summit on GBVF.
Honourable member, Tebogo Chabalala (17) from Gauteng raised concerns about the increase in cyber bullying and called on parents to avoid putting wrong content on social media platforms, especially, TikTok, as this may lead to cyberbullying.
After urging government to empower parents about children’s rights, honourable Chabalala, also emphasised that: “as children, we do have rights, but we should always remember that our rights come with responsibility.”
In the commission on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Teenage Pregnancy, Motshidisi Maake (18) from Gauteng, said the Constitution makes provision for the right to education, and “some schools do not allow learners to come to school while pregnant and this is a violation of children’s rights.”
Honourable member Nontsikelelo Makhiwane (18) from the Eastern Cape, cautioned that teachers can sometimes worsen children’s challenges when they discriminate against those who fall pregnant. She also mentioned that children’s rights to privacy are often overlooked by parents and community members who would judge them for collecting their Anti-Retrovirals (ARV) at local health facilities forgetting that some children were born HIV positive.
The issue of peer pressure and sexual abuse by teachers, cyber bullying took a centre stage as another prevalent societal problem which must be addressed by children in conjunction with government.
Oliphant said that the platform has been created to afford children the space to freely express their views as stipulated in the Children’s Act, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The children’s parliament will be held under the theme: “Maximising the Voices of Children in addressing social ills affecting them”