Cape Town – The hashtag #SaveOurChildren has been widely circulated on social media over the past few weeks but now children’s rights organisations are calling for more proactive steps to be taken to protect and save the lives of children.
Globally, #SaveOurChildren has been used online to spread awareness of child trafficking and has grown to cover all forms of abuses and children’s rights violations.
Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said the campaign started a few years ago in the US, expressing outrage against child sex abuses, paedophilia, child trafficking and the sexualisation of children. The campaign aimed at creating more awareness on these issues on the internet.
In South Africa, it is used to highlight child rape, child murders, child trafficking and child abuse.
“Many of the posts are sensational and alarmist, peddling in conspiracy theories. Others are sincere and highlight a specific incident or event that violated or harmed a child or group of children,” said Solomons.
“Targeted campaigns on the internet and social media raise awareness and exposure around a specific issue and can be very effective to mobilise responses to protect a specific child or group of children. It can also not translate into real action to protect children.”
Manenberg community activist Yumna Alexander said that violence against children in their own homes and at the hands of their parents, caregivers and family members should be looked at first.
“Most of the time, it’s someone you know that harms you. Children are surrounded by violence on the streets and in their own homes.”
She said children should be treated as children – with love, support and care. With many adults forgetting how to do this, parents and communities should be more hands-on and interact with children more.
“Everyone wants to give their opinion, but when it comes to action the only thing they do is like or love the post on Facebook. The ones that make the noise are the ones who are active. People say ‘save our children’, but what exactly are they doing to save children?”