01/06/2018 10:04 BST | Updated 01/06/2018 10:04 BST

Child Protection Week: 'Is Protecting Children A Priority? No.'

According to UCT researcher Lucy Jamieson, legislation exists to offer more protection to children – but enforcing it is not a government priority.

Senior researcher at the University of Cape Town's Children's Institute Lucy Jamieson says that although protecting children should be a top priority for government, there is "a lack of political will" when it comes to implementing existing legislation meant to protect them from violence and abuse.

"There was a study done by government called a diagnostic review that looked at the capacity and what state was doing to reduce violence — and the first thing it noted was 'a lack of political will'," she told HuffPost. "Yes, [government] has stated that [protecting children] is a priority, but it is not a high enough priority."

This is reflected in the funding allocated to the task. Only one percent of the national and provincial budgets for social development departments is spent on preventing violence, she pointed out.

"That [indicates the] level of commitment from government. Is it a priority? No. should it be? Absolutely."

Jamieson says there are also economic benefits to prioritising violence against children.

"It is also important in terms of the economy. Save The Children did a study that showed that violence against children costs the economy R238-billion in 2015 (5 percent of GDP) — that is an enormous economic cost."

Minister of Social Development Susan Shabangu launched Child Protection Week on Monday by zooming in on injustices facing minors.

National Child Protection Week is marked annually to raise awareness of the rights of children. It aims to mobilise all sectors of society to care for and protect children.