various prisons. The researchers also accessed court records and statistics from other government departments. 3. FINDINGS 3.1. General assessment of the situation of children Most children who come into contact with the justice system are living in situations of deprivation. They fail to access education because of poverty. Some are orphans, most of their parents having died of AIDS while others have parents who are unemployed. Where parents are deceased, children are usually made to live with relatives who may then abuse or expose them to abuse. Media influence, peer pressure and lack of guidance were noted as some of the factors causing children to commit offences like rape, sodomy, aggravated indecent assault and stock theft among others. The perception of the public that children should be punished was also contributing to the manner in which children are treated. The judicial officers tend to conform to the society’s attitude. 3.2. The Legal Framework There is general lack of knowledge of the laws protecting children among the people who participated in the study especially in Rusape. Questions which required intimate details of the law, were usually difficult to answer resulting in the researchers changing their approach. Some of the respondents did not have access to the law. This may be contributing to the nonimplementation of laws which protect children. The general appreciation among the majority of respondents was that Zimbabwe has enough laws to protect children, the major hindrance is the non implementation influenced by lack of basic knowledge of the law, ignorance by stakeholders in the justice delivery system, poor accessibility of the laws, lack of motivation making personnel focus more on their personal things. This has been largely due to staff turnover of trained and experienced personnel. Laws like the Children’s Act, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Administration of Estates Act and Domestic Violence Act were noted as some of the laws protecting children in both criminal and civil cases. 3

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