The National Adoption Coalition of SA (NACSA) has launched new research into the incidence of child abandonment, and a new communication campaign to address this ongoing social challenge. The initiative was announced last week at the Princess Alice Home in Johannesburg ahead of Child Protection Week, which runs until Friday June 2.
A total of 26 organisations representing 33 NGO Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCC) took part in the research, which equates to 10% of registered CYCCs in South Africa. The research found that while the number of abandoned children has declined in these centres especially in Gauteng and KZN, however, the number of anonymous abandonments appears to be increasing.
“The research shows that child abandonment has declined slightly, however, the number of anonymous abandonments has increased, which means that there is very little chance of these children ever being reunited with their biological families. This highlights the continued importance of child protection strategies such as adoption. Sadly, the number of adoptions remains extremely low in South Africa, with only 1349 adoptions taking place in 2016/2017,” according to Katinka Pieterse, chair of NACSA.
Reasons cited by child protection officers for the increase in anonymous abandonment include a lack of support or social services for foreign mothers in the government departments of Justice, Home Affairs, Health, Police Services and Social Development. Another reason given is that hospitals have significantly improved their security and protocols around child birth in South Africa, making anonymous safe abandonment in hospitals unlikely.
The research has prompted the development of a new awareness campaign under NACSA’s crisis pregnancy brand, “Choose to Care”.
The campaign, developed by Lesoba Difference, uses the creative concept of remembrance crosses one sees next to South African roads, marking the spot where a loved one passed away due to a road accident. Posters depicting a tombstone with the statistic that two out of three abandoned babies die will be placed in areas where babies have been abandoned. The posters not only highlight the danger of child abandonment, but also guide anyone experiencing a crisis pregnancy to a nearby place of safety or baby home that can assist them.
The campaign hopes to continue raising awareness for child abandonment in South Africa as well as providing support to mothers experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
A local intervention, The Helderberg Baby Saver, hopes to decrease unsafe abandonment by providing an alternative. Situated in the right-hand wall of the Choices building (Schapenburg Road, Somerset West), the Helderberg Baby Saver can be used anonymously 24 hours a day, by simply opening the door, placing the new born inside and closing it again.
An alarm is triggered and the baby will be retrieved and taken to the Helderberg Hospital for care and to be placed into the social service system, as with any other abandoned baby.
For more information visit www.babysaver.co.za, see their Facebook page or or call Sandy Immelman at 082 494 0983.