Afrobarometer, in partnership with Laws.Africa and the Data for Governance Alliance, have released a fresh set of country scorecards on Saturday, underscoring the imperative for heightened efforts to enhance the well-being of vulnerable children in Africa.
These scorecards visually summarized the findings from Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) surveys, as detailed in its latest Pan-Africa Profile.
They shed light on African citizens’ perspectives regarding the physical discipline of children, the prevalence of neglect and abuse, and the availability of community-level assistance for vulnerable children.
During the unveiling at the 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) in Addis Ababa, Anyway Chingwete, Afrobarometer’s deputy director of surveys, remarked that the use of physical force for disciplining children still enjoys solid support among African adults, despite a gradual rise in opposition.
“Across 33 countries surveyed in both Round 7 (2016/2018) and Round 9 (2021/2023), 16 show significant declines in support for corporal punishment, including sharp drops in Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, and Liberia,” she said.
”This trend suggests that international condemnation of corporal punishment and an increasing emphasis on children’s rights, as endorsed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, may be having an effect.”
The findings also show that most Africans say child abuse and neglect are uncommon, and more than half report that services are available in their community to support children who are abused or neglected, children with disability, and children and adults with mental or emotional problems. But fewer than half think their government is doing a good job of protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable children. These assessments vary widely by country and respondents’ economic status, suggesting opportunities for interventions to strengthen child welfare. Information from the Laws.Africa platform also shows that out of the 39 surveyed countries, only Morocco and Tunisia are yet to ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Yvonne Tagwireyi, an external expert at ACERWC, described the scorecards as a valuable governance and accountability tool for assessing African governments’ performance on critical well-being indicators.
“In order for Africa to achieve the aspirations of the Agenda 2063, and more importantly Agenda for Children 2040, we urgently require data that is generated in Africa to inform policy and practice,” she said. “These scorecards will contribute towards the evidence that will require us to put in the necessary efforts to ensure that Africa is really and truly fit for children.”
Use of physical force to discipline children:
- On average across 39 countries, six in 10 Africans (61%) say parents are justified in using physical force to discipline their children. Approval of corporal punishment has declined modestly over the past five years.
- While support for physical discipline approaches nine out of 10 citizens in Benin (88%), Cameroon (87%), Burkina Faso (86%), and Niger (85%), 16 countries record significant decreases since 2016/2018, including sharp drops in Tanzania (-31 points), Kenya (-24 points), Botswana (-22 points), and Liberia (-22 points).
Child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect:
- About one-third (35%) of citizens say child abuse, mistreatment, and neglect are “somewhat frequent” or “very frequent” in their community, while 64% describe these as infrequent occurrences. Perceptions of widespread abuse range from 16% in Tanzania to 63% in Liberia.
Support services for vulnerable children:
- Majorities say services are available in their community to support children who are abused or neglected (58%), children with disability (56%), and children and adults with mental or emotional problems (52%).
Government performance on promoting child welfare:
- On average, only 44% of Africans approve of their government’s performance on protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable children. Economically disadvantaged citizens are least likely to see their government’s efforts as adequate.