|I sent this letter to several South African publications some months ago, for publishing on their letter page. Some published it, some did not. Here it is unchanged:
New Children’s Act worrying
Government is implementing a new Child act. One of the provisions in said law is that children, from the age of 12 can get contraceptives without their parent’s knowledge. It is already true that children from 11 can get abortions without parental consent.
According to our government, the new laws are “…. for promoting and monitoring the sound physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional and social development of children;” and to “promote the preservation and strengthening of families.” I don’t see it like that.
In the first place, this country has a law that states that sex with 12-year old girl or younger is rape – whether she gives permission or not. Sex with a girl between 13 and 15 years, you have her permission, is statutory rape.
It is also illegal for a woman to have sex with a boy in that age group. (As far as I know, the age limit for homosexual intercourse is even higher.)
With that, the principle is clearly that children of 12 and 13 cannot take emotional responsibility for their own sexual choices. The regulation that anyone who has reason to suspect an underage child is being molested has to report it, also contradicts this new law. These law makers claim to know that a sexually active child may be a child in need of care. (I’d say all sexually active 12 and 13 year olds need better care.) Yet, this law makes the mere giving out of contraceptives standard practice and the provision of care an afterthought. In fact, it makes it hard for parents to even know their kids need better care!
In the second place we have to remember that many teens get sexually active because they want to be loved. To get contraceptives and even abortions without your parents’ knowledge enlarges the gap between parent and child even further. A child who feel neglected and not understood would search for love somewhere else. And what kind of uhm…, love, do many of these youths find? You know the answer. This kind of government policy will only enlarge the problem of teenage promiscuity.
Tell me: What can we do to get government to change this provision?