Child negligence is punishable by law- police

12 Apr 2023

Botswana Police Service (BPS) has, in recent times, been inundated with cases of child negligence and ill-treatment, supposedly by parents.

A press release from the BPS says in worst scenarios, children are left without proper arrangement in the custody of relatives, guardians or institutions for a considerable period of time, which compels relatives, guardians or institutions to seek assistance from the police or redress from courts of law to locate the absconded parents.

The release says as a result of the increase in such cases, the police intend to intensify operations on offenders.

Statistics indicate that the police recorded 180 cases involving children for neglect or ill-treatment of children in 2020, 217 cases in 2021 and 399 cases in 2022.

Under the offence for failure to report a child in need of care, the release says police recorded 2 cases in 2020, 1 case in 2021 and 25 cases in 2022, while 6 cases of cruel treatment or punishment of a child were recorded in 2020, 20 cases in 2021 and 80 cases in 2022.

Additionally, 31 cases of failure to provide necessities were recorded in 2020 while there were 16  and 48 cases in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

On cases for failure to comply, 337 were registered in 2020, 637 cases in 2021 while 372 cases were recorded in 2022.

The police, therefore, appeal to members of the public to take responsibility for their children and report any suspicious cases of child abuse or exploitation, as per Section 25 of the Children’s Act.

“Given this backdrop, the BPS continues to strengthen its response to cases involving children by providing child-friendly services, amongst them the introduction of child-friendly centres across the country,” adds the release.

The release also reminds the public of the punitive measures that apply to parents for child negligence and ill-treatment.

Children’s Act, Section 56, Sub-Section (1), as per the release, stipulates that; any parent, other relative or guardian of a child or any other person having custody of a child, who neglects, ill-treats or exploits the child or allows or causes that child to be neglected, ill-treated or exploited shall be guilty of an offence and shall be sentenced to a fine not less than P5 000, but not more than P20 000, or imprisonment for a term of not less than six months, but not more than two years.

Furthermore, the release says Sub-Section 2 of the Act also states that a child shall be deemed to have been neglected if the parent, other relative or guardian or any other person having custody of the child, if among others; unreasonably fails to provide or pay for adequate food, clothing or housing for the child, unreasonably fails to make adequate provisions for the proper health and care of the child.

 This also includes if the parent, other relative or guardian or any other person having custody of the child unreasonably leaves the child in the care of any person or institution without showing any further interest in the child or exposes the child to conditions or circumstances, which are likely to cause that child physical, mental or psychological distress or harm.

Such person if guilty of the offence shall be sentenced to a fine of not less than P2 000, but not more than P5 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, but not more than six months or both.

The release further says BPS commits to upholding children’s rights and ensuring their protection. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : BOPA

Location : GABORONE

Event : press release

Date : 12 Apr 2023