Child Pregnancy Under Scrutiny: Who Should Be Held Accountable?

There are many misconceptions and confusion around the reasons for heightened child pregnancy in South Africa. Experts in the field seek to examine the real reasons for teenage pregnancy in schools and communities.

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Child Rights Expert, Joan Van Niekerk says health professional are obligated to report sexual abuse of teenagers under the age of 16 years to authorities. The child expert further adds that this is in line with Sexual Offences Act amendment of criminal law.

Joan however said a number of these teenage pregnancies might be voluntary as the age of consent is 16 years.

According to Van Niekerk, teenagers with two years apart are protected from prosecution should any acts of sexual activity take place in agreement.

Even though these children can’t be held accountable, they should be reported to the system for protection, said the child expert.

Although I’m reluctant to say this, I believe that we should have a couple of cases where a health professional or social services professional is held accountable.

Van Niekerk further affirms that children under the age of 12 years should be reported to the child protection system if they fall pregnant or are due to deliver a baby.  She undoubtedly confirms that failure to report such incidents is a crime.

Reports state that of the 35 000 pupils who fell pregnant in the past year, over 600 were under the ages of 9 and 10 years old.

Joan Van Niekerk says these teenagers should not be allowed to go home after they have delivered a baby without being reported.

She adds that in each case these children return to give more births if they are not reported.

The reasons health professionals refuse reporting these cases is to avoid accountability were they might possibly get summoned in court for clarity.

Whatever the reasons maybe health professionals are by law obligated to report these cases, the child expert assured.

Van Niekerk urges health professionals, social services and SAPS to report the sexual abuse of children, and she warned that its up to the prosecutor to decide if sexual abuse offences should be prosecuted, not the police.

 

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