During the past three years, 1 the position of poverty-stricken children in South Africa has not improved. In this country, a growing perception has developed that spending on social welfare services (as opposed to direct transfer payments in the form of grants and pensions) has diminished in the period since 1996. 2 The lack of resources for both the prevention of abuse and neglect and for the protection of children is a central issue of concern in South Africa. There are, however, indications that the Constitutional Court and law reformers may well force the Government to take more dramatic steps than it has hitherto done. The implications of the South African ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 3 the constitutionalisation of children's rights, 4 recent Constitutional and Supreme Court of Appeal cases and the new South African Children's Bill and Discussion Paper preceding it indicate that the state can no longer assume that social problems can be located solely within the individual or the family.