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Violence prevention starts at home
15 April 2015

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Pretoria, South Africa – South Africans are playing a leading role in developing and testing programmes that can prevent violence in low- and middle-income countries, speakers told a seminar at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The seminar also launched two publications – a special edition of the ISS journal, South African Crime Quarterly (SACQ), guest edited by Elizabeth Dartnall and Anik Gevers from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and a policy brief exploring the relationship between positive parenting, development and violence prevention.

‘We know that violence impacts profoundly on almost every aspect of life in South Africa,’ said Chandré Gould, ISS senior research fellow and editor of the SACQ. ‘It threatens the health and well-being of the nation and impacts negatively on development’.

New research by the ISS and the University of Cape Town (UCT) shows that parenting affects children’s behaviour. The research found that children who were subjected to corporal punishment, whose parents were stressed and who suffered from mental health problems (such as depression) were more likely than other children to be anxious and depressed or act violently and aggressively.

The research also found that children who witnesses domestic violence were more likely than other children to act aggressively and violently themselves. ‘Implementing programmes to support parents and help them to parent positively is critical to national development’ said Catherine Ward, Head of the Department of Psychology at UCT.

Drawing on the results of their research, speakers explained the factors that increase the risk of violence, and what can be done to prevent it.

The South African government has identified early intervention as key to preventing violence, and national legal and policy frameworks already exist to carry out preventative strategies. The Departments of Social Development, Basic Education and Health have important roles to play.

For real progress to be made, evidence-based programmes to support families must be made available throughout the country. This is necessary if we are to achieve the development goals set out in the National Development Plan, and to realise the mandates of the Children’s Act and DSD’s Strategic Plan for Prevention and Early Intervention (2013 – 2017). It will be essential for civil society to work closely and collaboratively with government to make this happen.

For media enquiries, contact:

Jacqueline Cochrane, ISS: +27 12 346 9500 ext 216, jcochrane@issafrica.org

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About the Institute for Security Studies

The ISS is an African organisation that aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.
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