Homeless and abused children faced enormous challenges in lockdown – TTBC

The Teddy Bear Foundation’s director, Dr Shaheda Omar, said that the restrictions on movement trapped many children inside their abusive homes.

CAPE TOWN – The Teddy Bear Foundation said that homeless children and those living in abusive homes had faced enormous challenges under the COVID-19 lockdown.

The foundation’s director, Dr Shaheda Omar, was part of a panel discussion hosted by Unicef South Africa on Monday.

Panelists dealt with various issues faced by many South African children who’ve found themselves in uncertain and vulnerable situations, especially during the lockdown.

Omar said that children had been in crisis since before the COVID-19 lockdown, as they fell into the most vulnerable and marginalised population group.

But for many, the lockdown has exacerbated already challenging living conditions.

“Often we see that home is a place of security but something that really became transparent during this COVID-19 lockdown was that home could actually be a place for danger.”

Omar said that the restrictions on movement trapped many children inside their abusive homes.

“Why I’m focusing on physical abuse is that we saw increasing incidents of referrals of children who came to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital with fractured ribs, fractured femurs and these were children that were living at home and were supposed to have been protected at home.”

She said that this period also hampered homeless children’s’ ability to collect money – whether they were cleaning motorists’ windows for a few coins or begging for donations on the streets.

“This certainly increased incidents of being exposed to starvation, with not even the option of shelters, which for me was one of the glaring omissions on the part of government.”

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