Saapa calls for stronger liquor legislation to safeguard children from harm

Director Maurice Smithers said that Saapa also considered the high levels of underage drinking by children as young as 12-years-old to be an issue needing urgent attention.

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CAPE TOWN - The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) said that strengthening liquor legislation could make the country a safer place for children.

The organisation has raised a number of concerns in light of Child Protection Week, which has officially come to an end.

Saapa is particularly concerned with the link between harmful or hazardous drinking and the maltreatment of children.

Director Maurice Smithers said that Saapa also considered the high levels of underage drinking by children as young as 12-years-old to be an issue needing urgent attention.

“We should be taking every step possible to honour the Bill of Rights in our Constitution and the UNHCR Convention on the rights of the child. This means acknowledging the link between the harmful use of alcohol by adults in the home, and in the community and the physical and psychological abuse of children in our society and taking the necessary steps to prevent such abuse,” said Smithers.

Shaheda Omar from the Teddy Bear Foundation said that they had observed at their clinics that there was a clear link between harmful drinking and the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children.

“A number of cases that we've had at the clinic has shown that alcohol is a significant contributory factor to child maltreatment, cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse purposeful neglect and children have been deprived of basic aid, have not received food,” she said.

Saapa is calling for the passing of the Liquor Amendment Bill.

“Therefore encourage government to fast track the passing of the long-overdue Liquor Amendment Bill, which will go some way towards reducing the threat of alcohol harm to the health, safety, and general well-being of our children,” Smithers said.

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