Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Child negligence and abuse on the rise

The Director of Childline Botswana, Onkemetse Mbazo has said that incidents of child abuse are on the rise in the country.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mbazo said that most of the children they have accommodated are of cases such as jailed parents, neglected children, with some coming from unfit parents.

She said that there are also cases of parents who are being abused by their children.

“We have accommodated children from one-day old to about five years of age. Family re-integration of children is also a challenge,” said Mbazo, commending the government for assisting NGOs with donations.

She said that at some point, Childline turned down children for accommodation and rehabilitation due to overcrowding, saying that there are limitations to what they can do.

“We depend on donations for survival and we still lack resources and funds. They are not consistent, hence we have a problem of employees salaries,” said Mbazo
Childline Chairperson, Wilhemina Makwinja, also told The Telegraph that they have a long waiting list for children who need to be accommodated.

She added that in 19 years, the organization has grown from accommodating one child to 20 children, permanently.

Makwinja urged children to make the best use of the ‘Crisis Line’, meant to make it easier to report abuse cases.

“We cannot take more than we can afford in terms of children. There is enough space but not enough resources. The adoption process is also a long process and it contributes to the long waiting list. We receive heart-breaking emergency cases of abused children everyday,” said Makwinja.

She highlighted the importance of rehabilitating parents before getting their children back.

“It is stressful to deal with many children day and night. The ratio is supposed to be 4 children to one mother. Now it has doubled to 8 children to one mother,” said Mbazo.

She said that the centre is supposed to temporarily accommodate children but some end up staying there for about 3 years because of the legal adoption process.

Amongst other challenges that Childline is faced with is the outbreak of contagious diseases, such as measles, chicken pox and ringworms.

“This is a big problem as it affects children who do not know how to take medication on their own. We kindly ask for assistance from individuals and companies for the professional running of the centre,” said Makwinja.

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