Child Maltreatment Prevention readiness assessment study in South Africa

Children are precious.

The final report of the Child Maltreatment Prevention readiness assessment study in South Africa has been submitted to the World Health Organisation Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, Geneva.

The research team that produced this report was lead by the HSRC's Dr Mokhantšo Makoae, who is a senior research specialist in the Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation programme, assisted by Hazel Roberts and Catherine L. Ward.

Key recommendations

South Africa will benefit from placing primary prevention of child maltreatment as a distinct approach to promoting child health, survival, development and protection goals on its political agenda at all levels of governance. The significant shift in legislation and policy from a predominantly responsive child protection system that focuses resources on the investigation of alleged child maltreatment followed by intervention, to a system that emphasises prevention needs to translate into tangible change in practice through programmes and other processes that address harm before it occurs and reduce risk factors at different levels of the child’s life.

The assessment shows a discrepancy between perceptions about the advancements in the development of legislation and policy and their implementation.

The country has already made impressive milestones in terms of budget allocations and some of the outcomes in other fields related to these goals. Integrating child maltreatment prevention in family health services including maternal health (antenatal care, family planning and reproductive health, mental health), child immunisation, adolescent health, and early childhood development programmes should be considered. This approach will also enhance the existing programmes that target children who are particularly vulnerable because of the weaknesses in the family structure, for example orphaned children.

Main recommendations:

(1) Place CMP as a distinct approach to promoting child wellbeing high on the political agenda;

(2) recognise that prevention works best when integrated into broader programmes, such as maternal health, child immunisation, and early childhood development;

(3) improve the knowledge of key players about the immediate and long-term consequences of child maltreatment as a means of advocating for more attention to CMP in government departments;

(4) increase funding for data collection to understand the magnitude of the problem, in particular for a national prevalence study;

(5) advocate for increased political priority and more funds for CMP; and

(6) integrate child maltreatment prevention programmes in health services already in place for families, e.g. family planning and reproductive health programmes.

The work on the Child Maltreatment Prevention readiness project includes other collaborators’ reports and measurements that the research team developed, as well as related publications.

More information and related links available via the following websites and online resources: