Crime statistics - Devastating violence against children and women continues

31 May 2023
silhouette of mother and child walking out the door
UNICEF South Africa/Schermbrucker

31 May 2023 – The latest quarterly, January to March 2023, South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics, reveal a 20 per cent decline in child murders but a 29 per cent rise in attempted murders compared against the same three-month period last year.

The violent deaths of 245 children and the physical and emotional impact of violence on a further 2,291 children are tragic reminders of the scale of the issue. Twenty-eight children are violently attacked every day, three of them don’t survive.

The findings come as South Africa marks the annual ‘Child Protection Week’, which aims to raise awareness of the rights and safety of children.

“The level of violence against children continues to shock and outrage us,” said Muriel Mafico, UNICEF South Africa Deputy Representative. “There can be no excuse for violence against children,” added Mafico.  

The statistics also reveal a shocking rise in violence against women, with 969 murders and 1,485 attempted murders recorded over this period.

The human toll of this violence is far reaching and not only has a devasting physical impact but also affects the emotional and social development of children, families, and society at large.

Violence against children and women also has damaging economic impacts. A 2022 global brief, ‘The Violence-Prevention Dividend: Why preventing violence against children makes economic sense’ highlighted how the cost of violence against children could be as high as 8 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In South Africa, violence against children in 2015 had an estimated cost of 5 per cent of GDP. 

“Every act of violence against a child is a tragedy,” said Mafico. “Ending violence removes a critical barrier for children to achieve their full developmental potential and at the same time can save costs to society,” said Mafico.

At a time of increased household and national economic strain, investing in the safety and wellbeing of children is an urgent necessity. The 2022 brief calls on governments and development partners to increase resources for the prevention of violence against children.

UNICEF South Africa is working with the Department of Social Development and other partners on a three-pronged approach that includes:

  • Scaling up access to and enhancing the quality of violence prevention and early intervention programming, including Safe Parks as part of the Risiha community-based child protection approach, the Sinovuyo family strengthening programme and promoting digital safety online.
  • Engaging parents, caregivers, boys and men with positive parenting, mental wellbeing, and role model programmming that aims to strengthen their ability to manage stress, play an active role in violence prevention and improve mental wellbeing.   
  • Improving the quality of cross-sectoral care that includes the training of teachers, child and youth care workers and other social service professionals to help them identify concerns among children before they escalate, as well as improving access to specialized services for child survivors, such as Thuthuzela Care Centers.

Ending violence against children and women is on all of us. UNICEF South Africa is grateful for the support it receives from the private sector, public donors and partners, and individuals to strengthen the holistic prevention and early intervention response with Government.

Media contacts

Toby Fricker
Chief of Communication & Partnerships
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 61 418 7486
Sudeshan Reddy
Communication Specialist
UNICEF South Africa
Tel: +27 82 561 3970


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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