All children deserve to be treated with dignity

Almost double the number of children with disabilities, compared to their typical peers, lives at or below the national poverty line. And very often, children with disabilities receive day care from community-based and volunteer-driven day care centres that have very limited resources and where nappies are a luxury item and most often not provided.

The observation of children at these centres not wearing nappies, and sadly being ‘wet’, is a far too common occurrence. From this daily challenge of incontinence – combined with the ongoing need for nappies and a lack of diapers at care centres – to the long-term effects of negative stereotypes and stigmatization, children with disabilities and special needs deserve a comfortable life like every child, and they should be treated with dignity.

South Africa also has an obligation under the Constitution as well as national policy and legislation, to take care of each and every child equally. This is also stated in international law as well as the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Along with good health and care, one of the critical factors for the development of a child is early childhood development (ECD) and early access to education. The pinnacle of ECD encompasses emotional, cognitive, sensory, spiritual, moral, physical, social and communication development of children from birth to school-going age. Every child with special needs, or a disability, has the right to an education and to be included in the South African school system.