Many children (and their families) experience a sense of powerlessness in the beginning of dealing with a disability or chronic illness, and often feel very stressed at facing a future filled with unknowns. Every child has the right to health and safety, and in South Africa, the Children’s Act provides for the health and safety of ALL children, including children with disability or chronic illness. It is important that children who are disabled or live with a chronic illness know their rights; they should be informed and protected.
The law on children with disability
South African law states that due consideration must be given to children with disability:
- The child must be provided with care and support as and when appropriate.
- It must be made possible for the child to participate in social and educational activities, recognising their special needs and promoting self-reliance.
The law on children with chronic illness
According to South African law, the following must be evident when it comes to children with chronic illness:
- The child must be provided with the necessary parental care and support services.
- The child must be provided with conditions that ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate participation in the community.
A child with disability or chronic illness has the right not to be subjected to medical, cultural or religious practices that are detrimental to their health or dignity. Parents or guardians should do their best to protect the rights of their children, and also to listen to them and assist them where needed. However, it is important not to safeguard them in such a way as to alienate them from the rest of the world.
- Children’s Act 38 of 2005. http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/acts/2005-038%20childrensact.pdf
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).