By Naadiya Adams
Violence emulates violence and that has been proven over the years as adults who experienced either physical or emotional violence during their childhood tend to reproduce that violence again when they become adults and it shows in the relationships they keep.
There is a strong body of national and international evidence we can draw on to help us understand what causes violence, as well as a growing body of South African evidence on what works to prevent it. Government has identified the need to intervene early to prevent violence and the Department of Social Development has a strong legal and policy framework around which to grow preventative interventions.
Preventing the kinds of violence children experience, and grow up to repeat, requires us as a society to start thinking about how best we can support parents.
This means we have to nurture our society from a young age, because a nurtured child is more likely to grow up and contribute to society in a positive way as opposed to a child who was exposed to violence and abuse from a young age.
In an interview with Radio Islam, Senior researcher Dr Chandre Gould explains how children are impacted by violence.
“Now the impact in the short term might be on their school work or their ability to concentrate at school, their ability to make friendships and have good relationships with others. In the long term children who are exposed to violence are far more at risk of drug taking, of depression, of having physical health problems… their physical health and their mental health has very deep long term effect with exposure to violence,” says Gould.
To address the problem of violence in South Africa, Gould says we need to introspect and look at our own behaviour.
“The violence that we see around us manifests as trauma and as stress and then we respond in violent ways,” explains Gould.
A simple example is the anger you experience as a driver when you feel you’ve been wronged on the road, that angry response is part of the problem believes Dr Gould and she says in order for us to foster a non-violent society, each person needs to start with themselves, and look at their own behaviour.
“We need to model the behaviour that we want to see and its difficult especially in times when we are really stressed. I think parents are raising children right now in very difficult circumstances; parents are stressed financially, they stressed about the future,” says Gould.
Gould says early intervention and encouraging positive parenting needs to be made available to parents from day one. In Gould’s own community, mothers who fall pregnant who visit the clinic are given an immediate option for a parenting facilitator to visit and begin giving the support needed to become a nurturing parent. Parents to be are taught how to deal with their children in a non-violent understanding manner and that is key.
This is a model being replicated throughout the country where parents in both high-risk and non-high risk environments are targeted as a holistic approach to positive parenting in South Africa.
Listen to the full interview here: