Sexual Violence against young girls in Schools in South Africa

Sexual Violence against young girls in Schools in South Africa – Be inspired

<p>This project hopes to help girls feel safe and empowered at school.</p>

This project hopes to help girls feel safe and empowered at school.

Our facilitator providing training to school staff on how to promote safety within the school.
Our facilitator providing training to school staff on how to promote safety within the school.

In a nutshell

The Sexual Violence against young girls in Schools in South Africa (SeViSSA) project is a five year project that aims to reduce violence against children, but particularly girls, in South African schools, and thereby improve their access and performance at school, enhancing their educational outcomes, and that of all school children. The Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) is one of multiple organisations implementing interventions to prevent sexual violence against girls and promote their wellbeing under the banner of the SeViSSA protect. This profile describes CJCP's work in relation to SeVISSA. 

What we do

The overall goal of the project is to influence, through the research surrounding interventions, the development of both provincial and national evidence-based school policies, as well as broader national safety and gender-based violence laws, policies and services and interventions of relevance to girls. The project is being implemented in 40 primary and secondary school across four provinces - Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape.

The three major components of the intervention are: (i) the ways girls experience safety while at or around school; (ii) the ways in which safety, and cases of sexual violence, are dealt with; and (iii) the opportunities learners have to participate in, and generate change themselves. All this is achieved by ensuring that intervention schools are capacitated to effectively formulate, implement, and monitor school safety plans to ensure safer schools.  The project intends to allow learner participation in the development and implementation of safety plans and strategies at the same time promoting representation of girl learners in leadership positions on school safety committees and other safety bodies.  The project also provides a platform for the generation and dissemination of key messages and school-based strategies by girl learners to prevent sexual violence and other related safety incidences at school.

How we do it

The project is collecting broad-level data as well as individual school-specific data that can assist in the creation of broader indicators of sexual violence across the schools to inform the design specific interventions on a school-by-school basis.  The project also focuses on generic interventions through the implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF) with a focus on sexual violence. This includes the conducting of school safety audits and the development of school safety plans with the intention to address issues relating to violence and school safety. The implementation of school safety audits and plans will draw on innovative learner-driven processes with learners facilitating the development of safety plans and strategies to be implemented in conjunction with the development of proactive policies.

The project is also building the capacity of school management to deal openly with, as well as share learning and convey messages on, the handling of cases of sexual violence, rather than perpetuating processes that encourage silence and the passing on of these issues to other agencies. Capacity development of school management is envisioned to allow increased levels of reporting of incidents of sexual violence to school authorities at intervention schools and at the same time ensuring that schools respond appropriately to reports of incidents of sexual violence and other related safety incidents at school. All this is made possible through providing on-going monitoring and evaluation to ensure that schools keep track of its progress towards creating a safe environment, which is a conducive to learning.

What we have achieved

Since its inception in the year 2014, the SeViSSA project has witnessed some remarkable strides of achievement. To date, the following has been achieved:


1. The implementation of the NSSF in schools

All the 40 schools in the project received a two-day capacity building training on how to implement the NSSF to improve a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning. Of the 40 trained, 28 schools have already put in place an active school safety committee and have conducted learner surveys based on of various forms of school safety threats including but not limited to bullying, substance abuse, dangerous objects, sexual violence as well as journeys to and from school. The learner surveys provide learners the opportunity to inform the school of how they experience their school environment and suggest issues that should be dealt with at school. Once safety threats have been identified, schools are encouraged to develop a school safety action plan. 28 schools across the four provinces have started implementing activities to improve the safety of learners.


2. Opportunities for information sharing at both national and international platforms

The CJCP managed to participate at two conferences on violence prevention in South Africa in the year 2016 - The 1st South African National Conference on Violence (UNISA/SAMRC/FPD) and the International Conference on Violence Prevention: From Scientific Excellence to Effective Practice (UCT-SAVI & Global Campaign for Violence Prevention). These conferences provided a platform for CJCP to showcase and share learnings made so far on the SeViSSA project through the implementation of the NSSF.


3. Published journal article - African Safety Promotion: A Journal of Injury and Violence Prevention

One of the major successes experienced in the SeViSSA project was receiving an invitation to from the African Safety Promotion: A Journal of Injury and Violence Prevention after a successful presentation at the South African National Conference on Violence Prevention. This opportunity enabled CJCP to share how the NSSF is a wide-ranging approach to addressing violence occurring in schools by focusing on prevention, intervention and response and more precisely giving a detailed account on lessons emerging from the initial NSSF implementation as part of its SeViSSA project. 

What we have learned

Since the project inception in 2014, the SeViSSA project has identified several key learnings through the monitoring processes.

  • School safety requires a multi-stakeholder approach for it to be effective. Parents, caregivers, educators, learners, communities, government departments and private sectors need to collectively work together to ensure that school-based programmes and initiatives are implemented correctly and safety in schools is achieved.
  • There is need to engage in extramural activities in the schools. All the participating schools in the project have indicated that most of the learners have nothing to do after school, and thus they often end up engaged in anti-social behaviours and activities. It is therefore essential for schools to involve learners in activities that enhance social skills and interaction with others.