ChommY programme to assist children make positive decisions

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu along with Free State MEC of Social Development Motshidise Koloi in partnership with USAID will today launch ChommY- a social and behavioural change programme, in Ficksburg, Free State.

In a statement on Friday, the department said the launch forms part of the Child Protection Week campaign which is commemorated under the theme: “Let us Protect Children during COVID-19 and Beyond”.

Observed under the theme; “Invest in my Future…Protect me Today”, ChommY aims to generate knowledge, develop skills, and empower young people to make informed choices and contribute to reducing the high prevalence of HIV infections, substance abuse and prevention of teenage pregnancy.

In 2020, the Department of Social development estimated that there were 642 000 migrant children in South Africa, making it the country with the largest child migrant population on the continent.

The Child Protection Week (CPW) campaign is commemorated in the country annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

“ChommY in Setsoto Local Municipality is being launched in the context of the Department’s You Only Live Once (YOLO) programme which was launched in 2015 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years about HIV/Aids, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and being agents of social change. YOLO was established as part of the Department’s Comprehensive Strategy on HIV and Aids,” the department said.

According to Statistics South Africa’s 2018 HIV Prevalence Report, HIV prevalence among the youth aged 15 – 24 declined over time from 6.7% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2018.

According to the department, despite the decline, to date, HIV infections amongst the youth remain relatively high. This is hugely attributed to the behavioural, social, and structural drivers of HIV, which contribute to youth being vulnerable to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

“Upon assessment of the YOLO programme, one of the findings was the distinct omission of children aged between 10 and 14, while reports have shown that some of them were already involved in risky sexual and social behaviour.

“Setsoto Local Municipality borders the Kingdom of Lesotho resulting in high numbers of undocumented children. South Africa as signatory to different international conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, and the African Charter on the Rights and welfare of the Child, is obligated to accord every child who lives within the borders of the country to receive all basic services including healthcare, education, food and shelter,” the department said.

ChommY, a colloquial term for “friend” seeks to build a positive friendship among children of between 10 and 14 years and to encourage young boys and girls to motivate one another to minimise risky behaviour and social ills, including, bullying.

The programme gives children the opportunity to develop a personal plan for their lives and emphasises the importance of support from parents and communities to enable young people to make informed decisions.

The programme forms part of a basket of Social Behavioural Change (SBC) programmes offered by the Department of Social Development.

Children from Setsoto Local Municipality will form part of the launch and participate in indigenous games, share their social experiences and solutions and interact with the programme’s mascot Bokamoso. –

Source: South African Government News Agency