South Africa takes a front seat when it comes to developing and evaluating programmes that have a proven impact in preventing violence. This was one of the key messages at a seminar by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria on the 15th of April 2015. The speakers presented research as to how investing in primary prevention of violence, particularly evidence-based parenting and early-childhood interventions, has proven to be effective in reducing and preventing violent behaviour.
South African Crime Quarterly
The special edition focuses on violence prevention efforts in South Africa with a focus on primary prevention. Download
"The harm that violence causes lasts a lifetime and can span generations." Elizabeth Dartnall from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) added on to say that while in South Africa many mechanisms are in place to respond to violence (ranging from laws to services offered to victims), there is a need to invest more in interventions that aim at preventing violence from occurring in the first place.
"Positive parenting in South Africa" Download the Policy Brief here
Finally, the question was raised why long-running, proven to be effective parenting programmes have not yet been brought to scale in South Africa. There is often a lack of knowledge regarding the topic of prevention at policy level. This is compounded by the challenge of timing: while policy-making is often an immediate process looking for fast results, prevention is a more medium- to long-term process.
However, recent policies – such as the new draft White Paper on Safety and Security – increasingly acknowledge the effectiveness of primary prevention, giving reason to hope for more sustained efforts from policy-makers to support and invest in prevention interventions.
Speakers concluded the seminar by calling for more regular exchange forums to strengthen the link between research knowledge and policy-making.
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