According to South African Medical Research Council research, child deaths caused by abuse and neglect are on the decline; however, the picture is bleak in rural areas.
According to the research report, the number of children murdered in South Africa decreased by about 9% between 2009 and 2017, and the number of child deaths caused by abuse and neglect more than halved during the eight-year period.
The report also discovered that children under the age of five were more likely to die from abuse and neglect. However, it was also the age group that saw the greatest decrease in deaths.
“The killing of children in their first year of life, particularly girl children, has seen the greatest reduction in deaths from abuse and neglect. There has been a 73% decrease in the number of deaths of girls from child abuse and neglect in this age group, and a 61% decrease in the number of deaths of boys “According to the report.
Professor Naeemah Abrahams, the report’s author, stated that it provided clear evidence that “change is occurring.”
She stated that child deaths caused by murder had little change, but that there had been a dramatic shift in child deaths caused by abuse and neglect.
She went on to say that child abandonment is frequently motivated by desperation and poverty, as parents believe they are unable to support and care for their children.
She speculates that the child support grant may have played a role in the reduction of child deaths due to abuse and neglect, citing “many other studies” that show the grant’s benefits.
“According to research, the grant has given people dignity, allowed them to buy food, and provided a steady income. The grant may appear small, but if you have four children, you will have R1 000 to buy them mielie pap “She stated.
“There is no evidence to suggest a link, but we believe that is the most likely explanation.”
According to Abrahams, another factor that may have contributed to the decrease in deaths is increased awareness of baby shelters.
She claims that organisations have been lobbying for mothers to use safer alternatives, such as shelters or adoption services, if they want to give up their children.
According to the report, however, the majority of cases in which children die as a result of abuse or neglect occur in rural areas, and the number of cases in rural areas has increased.
In 2009, rural areas accounted for approximately 58% of all deaths due to abuse and neglect. According to the report, this increased to nearly 70% in 2017.
According to Abrahams, this could be due to higher levels of poverty in rural areas as well as a lack of access to services.
“It’s possible that access to grants differs and that rollout has been slower in rural areas,” she explained.
Some of the factors that could affect the number of child deaths, according to Abrahams, include a lack of access to social grant offices and sexual reproductive health services, as well as higher levels of poverty and unemployment.