South Africa is no country for children

18 September 2016 - 02:02 By TANYA FARBER

It is a slow-motion catastrophe: we are killing our kids.Homicide is the second-biggest cause of death among children whose bodies end up at a morgue, a pilot study has found.Among the alarming findings in this study and an earlier one are that:• Three children are murdered every day;• Nearly half of child homicides are linked to abuse and neglect;• Physical punishment under the guise of discipline is a contributing factor;• Nearly half of murdered children have single moms;• Over a third are killed by an acquaintance and a third are killed by their mothers; and• Murder is the biggest cause of death among 15- to 17-year-olds.The new study, reported in the South African Medical Journal, was based on the international "child death review" model, where every death deemed "unnatural" is discussed by a team of experts including a senior state advocate, medical specialists, pathologists, social workers and police.These include murders, suicides, accidents, sudden and unexplained deaths and cases where someone may be liable.Another alarming finding was that among babies who die, 70% do so at home, mainly from respiratory tract infections like pneumonia, with parents unaware that something is wrong."People don't realise the enormity of what is happening," said Professor Lorna Martin, head of forensics and toxicology at the University of Cape Town and Salt River mortuary.

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