Cape Town – Childhood violence against other children in South Africa is well above the global average.
There are various risk factors such as abusers who experience or witness violence in their home and neighborhood on a regular basis, associate with violent peers, and abuse alcohol and drugs.
Stellenbosch University’s political science department criminologist Guy Lamb said that while there is no reliable year-over-year data on child violence, previous studies have shown that the numbers in South Africa are higher than the global averages.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have reliable year-over-year data on child violence, so we can’t say whether it is improving or getting worse. From various studies conducted over the past two decades, we know that the perpetration of violence by children against other children, especially adolescents, is well above the global average. SA has much higher rates than countries with data, such as North America and Western Europe. “
In fiscal year 2019/2020, more than 10,000 cases of child abuse were reported to SAPS. Despite a drop of 134 from the previous year, Lamb found this alarming.
“They are afraid that their attacker will hurt them again if they report the assault to the police, they do not trust the police, they are not able to access a police station and / or consider such violence as normal.
“Most assaults occur primarily in the home and often from a member of a child’s household. Such violence also takes place in neighborhoods. Some schools even continue to use corporal punishment, ”he said.
More recently, a nine-year-old boy allegedly assaulted a six-year-old girl with a sharp instrument. The girl was injured in the head.
Western Cape Police spokesperson Col. Andre Traut said a case of GBH assault was reported in Muizenberg following the incident and the matter was under the Director of Prosecutions criminal.
Patric Solomons, director of Molo Songololo, said children learn from adults.
“Parents are the main actors responsible for the care, well-being, education and protection of their children. Their children’s behavior is usually the result of their parenting role and lack of intervention when children exhibit behavioral problems. Parents should promote problem solving without violence. Children learn about violence from parents and their environment.
“If left unchecked, the offender is likely to commit other serious crimes as he grows up, ends up in jail and even commits murder.
“If victims don’t get the right support, the incident could affect them for the rest of their lives. The trauma of the actual event and the subsequent responses can further traumatize a child. He will live in constant fear and will even become violent, ”he said.
Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital trauma unit doctor Dr Rochelle van Coller said: “Some days are better than others, but I can’t think of the last. time I did a shift without seeing a case of abuse. In the past month, we have had over 20 children in the hospital at one time who suffered abuse, including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, physical assaults and sexual assault. This works out to about 30 per month, or one per day. And that’s only at our hospital.
“Most months, physical assaults make up the majority of cases. This is however closely followed by sexual assault. Penetrating injuries such as gunshot wounds and stab wounds are less, but we also hear about the deaths of many of these children before they even get to the hospital. Doctors who visit other countries are always horrified by the extent of the violent trauma we see, ”she said.
Child protection consultant Joan van Niekerk said there is not just one reason children under the age of 18 commit crimes, but rather a combination of factors.
“Some of them include violent children who were abused earlier in their childhood or were exposed to violence to cope with life challenges and peer influence.
“Studies of negative experiences indicate that the impact of violence and abuse on children can last a lifetime and compromise physical, emotional, social and spiritual development. It disrupts family relationships even when the abuser is outside the family like a child is hurt, the family suffers too, ”she said.