South Africa: Boys to Violent Men - What We Know, and What We Can Do


We don't need more research, we need action. Some of what must be done is already outlined in South African laws and policies. The Children's Act, for instance, makes violence prevention interventions mandatory.

Earlier this week, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said in Parliament we need to undertake more research into why some boys become violent men who abuse women, and what can be done to stop it happening. There are, indeed, knowledge gaps, but for more than a decade, rigorous studies have been undertaken in South Africa and elsewhere on specific determinants that result in boys becoming adults prone to perpetrating violence against women.

We also have some relatively good research data on how to interrupt and even prevent such pathways to violence. The World Health Organisation's INSPIRE report, for instance, identifies key proven strategies and interventions that can prevent violence against children and strengthen norms that promote equitable relationships, which in turn can stop boys from becoming violent men.

A boy's family structure and home environment play a central role in shaping the likelihood of him going on to committing violence against women (VAW). Growing up in a violent household, experiencing childhood abuse (emotional, physical and sexual),...

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