WEEKLY HOT TOPIC: Youth Media Conference explores the topic of violence | Children's Radio Foundation

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Africa Melane talks about the role of media in advocacy and awareness raising around issues of violence

Over 60 young people attended the Youth Media Conference which took place over the past weekend in Cape Town. The conference, supported by UNICEF saw young people put heads together on the theme of ending violence in their communities. The  aim of the conference was  to engage children in how they have addressed and experienced violence, in its different forms,  in their communities.

Zakes Bantwini, DJ and Producer set the tone on the first day of the conference: “How do we come up and draft a lifestyle to turn our communities into places where we can enjoy. “It’s not the government that will do that…its the communities. when we look after each other we will see the need to talk when someone is affected by violence.”

Many young people at the conference spoke of schools being unsafe spaces for children. Gangsterism, bullying and corporal punishment were cited as commonplace in both private and public schools. A young panelist, Olwethu Sipakisa from Khayelitsha added that violence on school grounds is often seen by learners as a spectator sport. “The problem with that is that we encourage violence itself… you don’t see it as a bad thing but as an entertaining thing.”

CapeTalk/702 radio presenter, Africa Melane, a guest speaker at the Youth Media Conference shared an anecdote about everyday violence that he came across in a recent conversation. “These girls say they don’t like it when their boyfriends don’t beat them up. Now, let’s understand why. Many of them live in township where the love dynamic between their mother and another man, in many cases, not their father, is played out all the time. And when the man decides he wants to have sex and she says no, what happens next is she gets a klap. There will be violence. These young ladies are exposed to violence and they are associating that with love. To love me, he has to beat me up. The point that I’m making is violence is the norm.” Melane added that the media is at fault when not following up in communities where violence had taken place and made headlines.

“It cannot be ordinary that a child dies, or  that a woman is raped…if it is then we are failing in our duty in order for these conversations to happen around the dinner table.”
Addressing the young people in attendance Melane added: “We need hope in this country…where’s it going to come from? Its going to come from you lot.”

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