The South African Child Gauge at UCT has spent the last 10 years tracking the state of South African. Children.
A look back at the past 10 annual issues of the South African Child Gauge has revealed both the progress made for local children, as well as the obstacles they still face.
In November 2016 the Children’s Institute (CI) at the University of Cape Town will release the eleventh issue of the South African Child Gauge: the only publication to provide an annual snapshot on the situation of South Africa’s children
The CI has outlined massive challenges facing children today. For example, levels of violence against children are excessive: South Africa’s child homicide rate is more than double the global average and most forms of violence are perpetrated by someone known to the child. At the same time, the CI says it is clear that an array of progressive laws and policies have translated into significant gains for children.
Gains for children in South Africa today:
* Child poverty dropped from 74% in 2003 to 54% in 2013, driven primarily by the expansion of the Child Support Grant, which now reaches just under 12-million children.
* Children’s access to formal housing has increased to 75%, with access to basic sanitation at 72%.
* Deaths of children under five years old have fallen following the rollout of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme.
* Access to early childhood development programmes increased from 55% in 2002 to 91% in 2013, and access to basic education is nearly universal, at 98%.
Challenges facing South African children today:
* Poor quality schooling acts as a poverty trap starting in the foundation phase and culminating in high levels of high-school dropout.
* Just over 1-million learners started grade 1 in 2003, yet only 49% made it to matric in 2014 and only 8% qualified for a university exemption.
* According to the CI’s Children Count project, children remain disproportionately affected by child poverty. Over half of children live in households with a per capita monthly income of less than R671.
* One in five children live in overcrowded households, one in three are without water onsite and one in four are without basic sanitation.
* Nearly half of child homicides take place in the context of child abuse and neglect, and of these, 75% are children under the age of five – where most violence is inflicted at home by a person known to the child.
“Although the South African constitution provides children with the right to be free from maltreatment, abuse and neglect, children continue to experience high levels of violence across multiple settings,” says Shanaaz Matthews, director of the Children’s Institute.
“Experiences of violence have long-lasting negative effects on the health, social and psychological well-being of a child. It is therefore imperative that we find innovative ways to protect children from violence and to build children’s resilience so they are able to recover from negative experiences.  In addition, it is vital that projects such as the Child Gauge continue to monitor the status of children, identifying critical gaps and opportunities to strengthen policy and programmes.”