With the murder rate increasing for the seventh year in a row, it is clear that policing alone is not enough to stem high levels of violence in South Africa, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Thursday.
"You can't police your way out of this," said Gareth Newham, head of ISS's Justice and Violence Prevention programme.
"It just shows that the response of the State to address this problem has been failing."
Newham said that 3.4% increase in murders, which was the best and most reliable indicator of crime, was "very worrying".
According to the 2018/19 crime statistics, the number of murder cases increased to 21 022, from 20 336.
The ISS said that increased government spending on policing and harsher sentences for criminals had not reduced violence.
Police officers could not always keep children safe after school or stop men from beating their wives and partners, it said.
Newham said the statistics showed that most murders happened on weekends and involved young men drinking alcohol.
"Most violent behaviour is learnt at home and in communities," he said.
Some children ended up dropping out of school, experimenting with drugs, becoming involved in petty crimes, and then escalating to robbery and murder.
Newham said addressing the drivers of violence required more investment in evidence-based interventions and programmes, which included positive parenting programmes, after-school care and anti-bullying initiatives at school.
It would also be beneficial to look at changing attitudes about what it meant to be a man or woman, and addressing the attitude of "toxic masculinity... that you don't have to be violent to be a man," he said.
The good news was that South Africa had signed up to a global partnership of 25 countries aimed at ending violence against children, said Newham, with the commitment to run World Health Organisation approved, evidence-based violence prevention programmes.
"The difficulty is that these don't show quick results and there is a five to 10 year window for impact."