Stopping violence starts at home

  • 20 Apr 2015 | by Daniel Brumund | GIZ South Africa

Stopping violence starts at home – Blog

South Africa takes a front seat when it comes to developing and evaluating programmes that have a proven impact in preventing violence.

South Africa takes a front seat when it comes to developing and evaluating programmes that have a proven impact in preventing violence.

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 seminar also launched a special edition of the South African Crime Quarterly as well as a Policy Brief exploring the relationship between primary prevention, positive parenting and violence prevention.

"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.

Policy Brief

"Positive parenting in South Africa" Download the Policy Brief here

South Africa needs a shift towards positive parenting. New research from the ISS and the University of Cape Town clearly shows how parenting affects children's mental health and behaviour. Children who experience harsh, inconsistent parenting or corporal punishment are more likely to develop aggressive and violent behaviour. "This does not mean that the parents are to blame. Many feel anxiety, stress and also insecurity as to how to care for their children," said Chandre Gould, senior researcher at the ISS. "The good news is that there exist effective, evidence-based parenting programmes in South Africa. "These programmes can support any person taking care of a child – be it the parents, relatives or community members.     

“The harm that violence causes lasts a lifetime and can span generations” Elizabeth Dartnall
When choosing programmes to implement and potentially up-scale, it is important to check for solid, evidence-based impact. Catherine L Ward from the University of Cape Town stressed that unless there is robust evidence, programmes risk not only wasting money but also causing more harm than good. There are many ways how science can help policy-makers in choosing the right programmes and meeting urgent needs while still ensuring proper evaluation.

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.

 

For more information on the seminar and to find more resources, please visit:

http://www.issafrica.org/about-us/press-releases/violence-prevention-starts-at-home