World Cup Raises Risks for South African Children

Editor’s Note: Another guest post from our friends at SOS Children’s Villages is coming your way. This time around they’re informing us of the numerous risks facing children in South Africa as a result of the FIFA World Cup.


By Kyna Rubin

While South Africa’s children are ecstatic to be hosting the 2010 World Cup, child advocates, parents, and even South Africa’s president are concerned about keeping the nation’s children safe during this exciting time. The World Cup falls on South Africa’s winter school holiday, which is being extended this year for the big event.  

President Jacob Zuma warned parents about an expected rise in child trafficking during the month-long festivities. “Children wandering alone in shopping malls and football stadiums will be vulnerable to people with evil intentions,” he cautioned.

The president’s comments came during a May 21 speech in which he launched South Africa’s Child Protection Week.  In his address he also announced the Children’s Act, which took effect on April 1. The law, he said, “introduces better reporting mechanisms for child abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children. It is also innovative in the sense that it addresses the plight of child-headed households.” 

Keeping Kids Safe Off the Soccer Fields

For many of South Africa’s working parents, the prolonged school break means that their children may sometimes be unsupervised, a potentially risky scenario to which President Zuma alluded in his speech. 

Child-related groups are equally concerned about child safety, though they are alarmed by risks other than trafficking. Janet Prest Talbot of the Children’s Rights Center, a Durban-based non-governmental organization (NGO), told IRIN/Plus News that kids left on their own are at greater risk of abuse and sexual experimentation. While the government has set up anti-human trafficking teams in each South African host city, the biggest risk, she argued, is not trafficking, but child abuse committed by neighbors or family members.

Hunger is another risk. Many children who have little to eat at home depend on school to provide their main meal. Joan van Niekerk, national coordinator of Childline South Africa, told IRIN/Plus News that the government would have better invested its money in feeding children during the winter break than in producing pamphlets to prevent human trafficking. “We are very worried, but not about trafficking or the safety of children at stadiums,” she said. “We’re worried about what’s happening to children in their homes. If children are hungry, they’re going to go out there looking for food.”

SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa: A Year-round Safe Haven

During the school holiday, several NGOs are running camps for disadvantaged children to keep them off the streets. The features of these programs — HIV/AIDS education and sports, for instance, are just a few of the year-round services that SOS Children’s Villages provides for the South African children it raises.

SOS has eight Children’s Villages in South Africa, where it offers loving homes to some 1,000 children, including some of the nation’s 1.2 million AIDS orphans. By offering an SOS family food, education, and medical care to children without parental care, SOS brings concrete hope to South Africa’s children. To learn more, please visit SOS Children’s Villages.


photo credit: SOS Children's Villages


Judy Emerson
Judith Emerson7 years ago

i applaud President Zuma's interest in protecting the children. They certainly deserve our most thoughtful care. May the Goddess look over the welfare of all our treasured little ones! :D

Roger Nehring
Roger Nehring7 years ago

In a land where a wealth of mineral and land resources exist no child shoul go hungry. Oops, am I speaking of South Africa or the USA? Mmm, yep.

Hanan W.
Hana W7 years ago

The defenseless should have protection rather than become the prey. We are all responsible for one another. But until this is realized, the weak will continue to be neglected, if not victimized, by the more powerful....

poepiesnoepie k.
Past Member 7 years ago

Children are too young, too sensitive, vulnerable, and innocent that they are always the target of any malicious, fraudulent act.. or we may say "ABUSE" ... I pity these young eager minds.. (the children of Africa)

Mary Carolyn Perry
Mary C Perry7 years ago

Why does the world use children for terrible things and not see them as a gift we all should treasure?

Doranna Mcclendon

Before the people in South Africa,went under Aparheid and depriving them of freedom,justice and equality,and now the children should at least have food and good food to eat. As everybody is equal and we are all living on this one and only place with life,and this planet is in peril. And saving the people helps save our one and only planet that we can live on.

Julie van Niekerk

Children are ususally the target in all that is bad.

Dorothy K.
Dorothy K7 years ago

this is so sad, children are so vulnerable, and hunger makes it worse, as does the promise of a warm bed, clothes and food! these problems are everywhere and Afica is probably the worst, many kids have no parents to protect them and the very people they think are their "protectors" become their users and abusers!

Emily P.
Emily P7 years ago

It is an awful thing to have to go to bed live through the day looking for prayers are with the children of South Africa.

Kali Sunrise L.
Khadijah Sunrise7 years ago

we must all help to protect vulnerable children. Pass this on to everyone now!