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Violence against children costs South Africa R238 billion

Thursday 24 November 2016

Today, children’s rights organisation Save the Children South Africa announced findings from its Cost Study on the cost of violence against children in South Africa. The study reveals that in 2015, violence against children cost R238.58 billion. The study looked at data collected from national directories, surveys and reports, and was led by the University of Cape Town in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and Georgia State University.

The study looks at the long-term effects of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and the impact on the country’s economy.

“It was important for us to quantify the cost of violence against children on our GDP to highlight the urgency with which we need to act. Violence against children takes all forms and in varying degrees impacts on our economy. Infringing on the rights of children is just too costly for us to ignore anymore,” said Save the Children CEO, Gugu Ndebele.

She said, this study provides the research needed to develop high-impact programmes that will drastically reduce violence against children, and subsequently end child abuse. 

The study reveals that 7.2% of South African Children will suffer from sexual violence.  Additionally, in South Africa:

  • 26.1% of South African Children will suffer from physical violence
  • 12.6% of South African Children will suffer from emotional violence
  • 12.2% of South African Children will suffer from neglect
  • Girls are +- 30% more likely to suffer from emotional violence and neglect than boys.
  • Victims of sexual abuse are 4.9 times more likely to abuse drugs
  • Victims of childhood physical abuse are 1.34 times more likely to become obese
  • Victims of childhood physical abuse are 1.41 times more likely to develop a serious mental illness
  • We lose 50% more healthy life years through VAC than to Diabetes and Strokes combined
  • Physical violence against children reduces the victims monthly earning potential by 11,7%

"These findings highlight how preventing violence against children is a matter of urgency and is also an effective investment that will yield many social and economic returns for South Africa” said Professor Cathy Ward, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town.

The researchers admit that this is a conservative study that focused on available data and did not account for those cases of abuse that were not reported or documented.

“Our aim is to end violence against children, and we want to use these findings to begin to mobilise members of society to reflect on these findings, take action and be a catalyst for change,” Ndebele said.


Download the full report on:

For more information or to set up an interview contact:

Lois Moodley on 072 440 1519  or [email protected]

About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.

Note to the Editor: If children are affected, we’ve got something to say. Our team of experts are available for comments, interviews and information.

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