“My brother was lying on the floor. The blood was running out of him, spreading…” This is how 13-year old “Tapiwa” recounts the murder of his older brother by two youths from Alexandra Township, north of Johannesburg. The teenager still lives in fear and is plagued with nightmares a year after the incident while his brother’s murderers – who are known to his family – roam the streets.
Tapiwa’s story of trauma, loss and terror is shared by millions of other South African children across the country. They carry with them the childhood wounds of a society dogged by violent crime. A new study done by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention and the University of Cape Town has found that South African children’s exposures to violence are above the global average.
What does this mean for our country’s children?
While policy makers and activists try to unpack the underlying cause of the high level of violence that forms such a distinct part of post-apartheid South Africa, experts in the childcare sector are overwhelmed with the consequences and spill-over this has had on our younger generation.
Prof. Cathy Ward from UCT’s Psychology Department and co-author of the Optimus Study on Child Abuse, Violence and Neglect says the effects will be long-lasting and studies suggests the impact will probably be carried on to our children’s generation too. “These consequences can endure for a very long time and often have very diffuse consequences in children’s lives. So it’s not just mental and physical health we need to worry about but the kind of behavioural health it set off too.“
In this week’s documentary called “Trauma Kids” Special Assignment examines the impact that our high levels of violence has had on our country’s children and turn the spotlight on crime, gang culture and domestic abuse.
Watch TRAUMA KIDS produced by ADEL VAN NIEKERK, broadcast on Special Assignment – Sundays on SABC 3 at 20h30. Repeated Wednesdays at 23h30.
For more information contact:
The Special Assignment office: 011 714 6758/6451
Production Coordinator: Cleopatra Jones: 011 714 5419
Executive producer: Busisiwe Ntuli: 011 714 6451