'Substance abuse a driver of violence against children'

10 December 2014 - 16:45 By Staff reporter
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In South Africa, eight out of ten people sampled in a survey say they know of a child victim of violence.

This is a finding from a a study that surveyed 11,331 people from 28 countries, conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of international aid agency World Vision.

It found that a majority of South Africans with access to the internet (63 %) believe that violence against children has become more frequent in the last 5 years.

This is in line with the global average of 62% in 28 countries believing that violence against children has become more frequent, according to the study released today to coincide with International Human Rights Day and also the last day of the 16 days of Activism Against Violence Against Women and Children.

Globally, more than three-quarters of people know of a child victim of violence. In South Africa, this figure is 81% - more than four-fifths.

When asked to consider the action being taken against violence aimed at children, half of South Africans believe that "not very much" is being done to prevent it and two-thirds (67%) say that more needs to be done to protect children from violence in their communities.

When asked what the possible causes for violence against children are, most cited that it was a result of alcoholism or substance abuse (69%) or previous abuse (64%).

The Ipsos survey comes after a recent report released by the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town.

The ground-breaking Child Gauge 2014 report, which brings together in-depth research by specialists, found that:

  • 15% of children are neglected by their parents;
  • 74% of all child homicides involve children under the age of five, and half of these are due to babies being dumped before they are a week old;
  • Almost half of South African pupils say they have seen violence in their community;
  • One in five high school pupils has experienced violence at school; and
  • At least 10% of child murders involve sexual assault.

Based on the findings of the Ipsos survey, and its work with children globally, World Vision said violence against children can be ended.

"But this requires governments to invest in proven strategies that work in partnerships with communities, families, religious institutions and civil society."

These strategies include:

1. Challenging the attitudes, beliefs and traditions that perpetuate and tolerate violence against children. No adult in a position of power should be willing to accept violence against children on their watch.

2. Governments demonstrating their commitment to ending violence against children by implementing laws and policies that protect children from all forms of violence.

3. Supporting families, parents and caregivers to protect and care for their children, by investing in parental support programmes and support services for children and families at risk.

4. Empowering children so they can make themselves safer. Governments and communities need to recognise the key role children can play in preventing violence and not see them only as victims or perpetrators.

5. Ensuring every child has someone and somewhere to turn to when things go wrong.

6. When violence against children is discussed in media and social media, governments, NGOs and those in positions of power working to create a more realistic, positive and solutions-oriented public conversation.

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