One in five South African children have lost a parent.

Research has shown that bereaved children are at risk for developing depression, problems at school, behavioural problems and substance abuse.

Orphans are nearly one and a half times more likely to have had sex than non-orphans and were more likely to have had sex by age 13.

Parental death, in lower and middle income countries, is associated with HIV positive status in females.

Depressive symptoms in adolescents are associated with nonuse of condoms and nearly a third of all new HIV infections in South Africa occur in 15-24 year old adolescent girls and young women.

A Childs Rights Approach

Khululeka’s approach to children who have experienced grief and bereavement is founded on a respect for the child’s right to access the support he or she needs to ensure their optimal development, for their fundamental human rights, and for their right to have their needs met on their terms.

While both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (the Charter) are silent on children’s rights in the face of grief and bereavement specifically, a number of articles in both these human rights documents provide support for the notion that children have the right to appropriate support when they have experienced trauma. For example, Article 39 of the UNCRC states that:

States/Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; [—]. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.