Child protection

Circles of Care

Isibindi and Safe Parks

Ending violence against children




Ending violence against children

UNICEF South Africa/2017/Hearfield
© UNICEF South Africa/2017/Hearfield

Ending violence against children

Helping South Africa to safeguard its future

What is at stake?

South Africa’s children are the future of the country, and national investments to ensure their health and education are prioritized. Yet the high rates of violence that many children experience are causing lasting physical, mental and emotional harm and jeopardizing their ability to become social, responsible and productive members of society.

Violence is a daily reality for many children and includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. In the most severe cases it can result in early death. Many children experience repeated and multiple forms of violence, most often by people they are close to and in places where they should feel safe - at home, in their communities and in schools. In many disadvantaged, and especially urban communities, children lack opportunities and safe spaces to learn, play and just be kids.

Exposure to violence during childhood impacts on children’s health, well-being and academic performance. It also contributes to wider acceptance and normalization of violence in families and communities, thus reinforcing intergenerational cycles of poverty, inequality and violence.

Violence against children also has financial implications for the country. It contributes to loss of productivity, disability and decreased quality of life - while at the same time incurring high costs for law enforcement and health systems - all of which impact on national economic growth. In 2015, the estimated cost of violence to the South African economy was over 238 billion Rand.

Unless South Africa curbs the current levels of violence against children and ensures their protection, it will be difficult to harness the full development potential of its younger generations.

How does UNICEF help?

With over 70 years of experience working for children’s rights and well-being, UNICEF brings together evidence from across the globe to advise governments and partners on how best to implement proven strategies to end violence against children. By combining technical expertise on health, education, and social protection, UNICEF South Africa helps to collect evidence; promote quality dialogue; identify solutions; and ensure national strategies to prevent and respond to violence build on what is already working. By considering all aspects of the child’s life, UNICEF helps to design holistic programmes that aim to integrate action across government departments, development partners and civil society. While deliberately focusing on the most vulnerable and deprived communities in the country, UNICEF provides the South African Government with valuable technical advice to strengthen legislative frameworks and systems and ensure a responsive and protective approach for all children at risk of violence.





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