Glimmers of Light: Opportunities for Preventing Violence in South Africa


In 1994, South Africa transitioned from decades of oppressive apartheid and colonial rule to democracy. However, South Africa continues to suffer engrained cycles of poverty and high rates of inequality, both of which intersect with and contribute to the problem of crime and violence. Reducing and preventing violence against women and children and responding effectively to support victims is key to breaking cycles of violence. In 2015, the Dialogue Forum for Evidence-Based Programs to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children was established to foster collaborative relationships between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers involved in violence prevention in South Africa. Since then, the Forum’s participation has grown to include seven government departments, academics, NGOs, and a major private-sector buy-in. The Dialogue Forum demonstrates how actors from the public, non-profit, and private sectors can share knowledge and collaborate to achieve the shared goal of reducing and preventing violence.

In this paired paper and policy brief, Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar Chandre Gould examines responses to violence prevention in South Africa, focusing on the challenges and shortcomings impacting government efforts. She provides policy recommendations on how the South African government, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and donors can scale-up the effectiveness of violence prevention in South Africa through cross-sectoral collaboration aimed at developing and implementing programs that sustainably address the risk factors for violence. 

About the author

Chandré Gould is a senior research fellow in the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme of the Institute for Security Studies and managing editor the journal South African Crime Quarterly. In 2015 she completed a multi-year life history study of violent offenders. The results were published in a book titled Beaten Bad: the life stories of violent offenders. In 2009 she edited a volume titled Criminal (In)Justice: A civil society perspective. Since 2008 she has been the CEO(voluntary) of a community-based organisation that works to prevent violence by providing after school care for children, youth development and parenting programmes. She is co-PI on a three-year study to assess the impact of delivering four evidence-based positive parenting programmes along with a social activation process in a disadvantaged community in South Africa. She convenes a national dialogue forum for government, academics and NGOs in a long-term process that in South Africa.

First published by the Wilson Center Africa Program Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding

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