Early Exposure to Domestic Violence and Implications for Early Childhood Education Services: The South African Microcosm

Early Exposure to Domestic Violence and Implications for Early Childhood Education Services: The South African Microcosm

Mzoli Mncanca, Chinedu Okeke
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5598-2.ch047
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This meta-analysis drew statistical data from the Victims of Crimes Survey (VOCS) and gleaned empirical insights from the literature to present a comprehensive discussion about the extent of early childhood exposure to domestic violence and the effects on children's developmental trajectories. Bandura's social learning theory and the intergenerational transmission of violence were adopted as guiding theoretical perspectives to highlight the dangers of early exposure to violence and to elucidate the importance of raising children in safe and stable homes and schooling environments. Findings show that many South African children are severely affected by domestic violence, with far-reaching implications for their future holistic development and life chances. The chapter recommends that universities should ensure their early childhood education qualifications are socially relevant and contextually grounded. Similarly, practitioners should initiate and play a leading role in multi-stakeholder preventive interventions on domestic violence.
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Domestic violence continues to be a huge problem in South Africa, despite concerted efforts by the government, community formations and the non-profit sector to prevent the root causes. It is widely observable that the vast majority of domestic violence cases are perpetrated by men and their victims are women and children, as reflected in the statistical data compiled by the South African Police Service (SAPS, 2017), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) (2012), and the national statistical agency, Statistics South Africa (Statistics SA, 2016; Statistics SA, 2017). A recent survey conducted by Statistics SA and SAMRC at the beginning of 2017 revealed that one in five women over the age of 18 years reported having experienced violence at the hands of a male partner (Statistics SA, 2017). The same survey revealed that 40% of men assault their partners daily, and that three women in South Africa are killed by their intimate partner every day. Similarly, a study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (2012) found that 65% of women in South Africa had experienced spousal abuse a year before the study was conducted. Although children may not be directly involved all these violent acts, they witness some of them – hence the deliberate use of the term ‘exposure’ in this chapter to denote the direct and indirect impact of domestic violence on children.

Nevertheless, children are also subjected to extreme forms of domestic violence including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and other traumatic psycho-emotional experiences. In 2016, the University of Cape Town and the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention released a startling report on a three-year study of sexual abuse of children and adolescents in South Africa. The report revealed that between 20% and 30% of all children and adolescents in South Africa have experienced sexual assault (Artz, Burton, Leoschut, Ward, & Lloyd, 2016). The findings showed that “sexual abuse against children and adolescents is widespread and possibly worse than previously estimated” (p.7). These findings confirm the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime records which earlier showed that violence against children is widespread and that between 2011 and 2012, about 50 688 children were victims of different forms of violent crimes (SAPS, 2017).

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