The South African Child Gauge 2014 found that the use of physical punishment at schools was still widespread in spite of it being banned for almost 20 years.
Published by the University of Cape Town’s Children’s Institute, the report is an annual review that includes the latest research on children.
The study found that children continue to experience different forms of violence across different life stages.
This included infanticide or abandonment between birth to one year, physical and sexual abuse across the life span and dating violence and interpersonal violence amongst males peaking in the teenage years.
Children’s Institute director Shanaaz Mathews said these experiences hampered the development, learning ability, self-esteem and emotional security of children.
She added that these experiences could have long-term consequences for employment prospects and life expectancy.
“The impact of violence goes beyond physical scars,” said Mathews.
“Research shows that an intergenerational cycle of violence is created when children are exposed to violence in the early years, as these children are more likely to become perpetrators or victims of violence when they are older because of neurological and psychological damage.”
Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development in The Presidency manager Human Sciences Research Council programme manager Mastoera Sadan said there existed a widespread tolerance for violence in the country.
“We need to work very hard to break this cycle,” said Sadan.
“This requires an attitude that preventing violence is everyone’s business: government, civil society, religious and traditional leaders, communities, caregivers, children, the media… all have a positive role to play in saying no to violence against children.”