Section 150 of the Children’s Act says that the government has to take action to protect children if a child: has been abandoned or orphaned and is without any visible means of support; displays behaviour which cannot be controlled by the parent or caregiver; lives or works on the streets or begs for a living; is addicted to substances causing dependence and is without any support to get treatment for such dependency; has been or is at risk of serious physical or mental harm; or has been abused, neglected, or exploited. If a child is found to be a victim of child labour or is living in a child-headed household, a social worker must investigate to find out if the child is in need of care and protection.
Kids Have provides care and protection to 180 children.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF THE CHILDREN’S ACT? WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
The Act sets out general principles to guide the implementation of the Children’s Act and all other laws that apply to children. According to the general principles, all proceedings, actions and decisions concerning a child must:
• respect, promote, protect and fulfil children’s constitutional rights, the child’s best interests, and the rights and principles set out in the Children’s Act;
• respect the child’s dignity and treat children fairly and equitably;
• protect the child from unfair discrimination—including discrimination based on the health status or disability of the child or his or her family;
• recognise the child’s need for development—including the need for play and recreational activities that suit the child’s age; and
• recognise a child with a disability and respond to his or her special needs.
The general principles also say that, in any matter concerning the child:
• the child’s family should be given an opportunity to express their views (if that would be in the child’s best interests);
• conflict should be avoided and people should work together to resolve their differences;
• people should try to avoid delays in taking actions or making decisions; and
• the child (depending on his or her age, maturity and stage of development) and the person who has rights and responsibilities in respect of the child must be informed of any actions or decisions that will significantly affect the child, and be made part of the decision-making process.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has four general principles on: survival and development, participation, non-discrimination and best interests. These principles underpin everything we do for children.
Lucy Jamieson and Lizette Berry (Nov 2012): The Children's Act Guide for Drop In Centre Managers. Children's Institute UCT