Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala: Child Protection Week

 2 June 2017
Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala (MP) Speech Child Protection Week, Port Elizabeth

Acting FPB CEO  Mr Mmberegeni Dzebu
MMC  Ms Shirley Sauls
All distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Boys and girls

Our nation needs to unite now more than ever, as President Mandela once said “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear the fabric of our society and weaken our nation” The abuse of women and children has become a frequent feature in our society. On daily basis we are inundated with stories of women and children being subjected to the vilest crimes.

We live in a society in which a neighbour forces himself on a toddler, we as women feel can longer trust our fathers, brothers and uncles. One of the worlds most renowned activist Ms Angela Yvonne Davis, once said “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society ”, I am inclined to ask with such pervasive patriarchy and misogyny taking place in our country have we truly liberated the minds of men and our women in society?

If we were truly liberated the men in our lives would know that women and children are no less human then men. It is within this difficult context that we celebrate child protection week this year. During the Department of Communications Budget, I mentioned two things which I shall reiterate here today.

The first is this:

Any form of oppression against women and children is a betrayal of the African revolution and its values. The current conduct of the men in our society against women and children boys and girls, working class and middle class, makes us question the psychological structure of our society.

This questioning of our societal structure links us the second aspect I wish to reiterate which is through the National Development Plan (NDP) we must transform the psychological structure of society by promoting social cohesion and nation building.

Children form an integral part of the nation that we want to build, because ultimately they (you) will inherit this country.

Should we fail to act now against misogyny and patriarchy in the not too distant future this generation will look at us with a critical eye and ask but what were they doing when values were being eroded.

Why didn’t they put systems in place to ensure that the values of our society are not severely compromised?

As government we have an obligation to act with not just today in mind, but beyond, because we know very well that the future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious these often young people.

And it is now more obvious than ever that revolution of the fourth industrial age has presented us with substantial digital advancements. From social media to digital TV the world is bigger than it was twenty years ago. Via your mobile phone you could be chatting to someone on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in real time or better yet through digital TV you could be watching the latest movie before it reaches the South African shores.

This is the world we live in today information is at our finger tips, the internet is truly a great portal to information. But alas with all things in life there are positives and negatives, and the internet has positives and negatives. a study by UNISA in collaboration with the FPB demonstrates that, through what is gleaned on the media our kids are becoming desensitized to violence. In other words they can no longer tell the difference between what is ok and what is not; or how to treat others or how to treat themselves.

All of us sitting here today know the power of the internet, it has the great power to inform you but it also has the ability to misinform you. At a click of a button you can find yourself on the other side of the world in compromising position. That is why as government we have organisations such as the Films and Publication Board (FPB). As young people our government equips you through the FPB, you are given information about what you are watching subsequently told what the consequences are. If the content consumer does not broaden your intellectual curiosity, then that is choice you make.

I urge you to look at your own experiences of the digital space, you may have been exposed to online bullying, inappropriate content of a sexual or violent nature, you may even have shared inappropriate content or been reckless with what you share on line. You all have your futures ahead. What you publish will remain in cyberspace for the rest of your life.  It can have an impact on your career or your personal life in the future.  I urge you to take care of your own image, and your own patterns of consumption, and protect to those of you who have younger siblings , protect them do not expose them to things they are not yet mature enough to understand.

Government and private sector have been working on introducing the paperless classrooms, parents buy their children smart phones surely we can partner to make the online sphere a safer space for our children. Our future depends on this collaboration. We all have an obligation to raise awareness on the responsible use of the internet. We need to ensure that internet users leave a clean digital footprint online.

In the absence of parents, we are required as society to provide the necessary guidance. This is why the FPB conducts outreach campaigns like these throughout South Africa to raise cyber safety awareness and highlight the illegality of child pornography. However the FPB is small in terms of the resources and infrastructure, we therefore require partnerships with organizations on the ground to provide the necessary support.

I fully endorse child protection week especially in this current environment. As child protection week comes to a close I call upon you, young people to use the internet to empower you and not to disempower you.

I thank you.

Issued by Department Communications

Speech date:: 
Friday, June 2, 2017