by eNCA /Alexandra Willis

JOHANNESBURG – According to Save the Children South Africa, a development and rights based organisation for children, violence against children cost the economy over R238 billion in 2015.

Violence is a common experience among South African children across lines of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status and levels of education.

The consequences of violence against children causes substantial losses to South African society in terms of both disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and finance, according to Save the Children South Africa’s report Violence Unwrapped.

The report investigates the links between violence against children and health consequences they suffer, and the associated economic burden.

The report defines ‘violence against children’ as :

“All forms of physical and/ or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

According to the report, there is a wealth of evidence that supports that children who experience violence suffer short and long-term consequences of mental and physical health conditions, disability from physical injury, behavioural problems and reduced health-related quality of life. They also have an increased risk of delinquency and a high propensity to engage in criminal and violent behaviours, and are found to attain lower levels of educational achievement and impaired capacity to generate income later in life as adults.

The report divides the ‘economic burden’ into three categories:

* The monetary value of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost from fatal cases of physical and mental health outcomes and health risk behaviours attributable to nonfatal violence against children.

* Reduced earnings due to physical violence against children and emotional violence against children.

* Child welfare costs.

Researchers assembled estimates of lifetime prevalence, calculated the magnitude of associations with negative outcomes, and thereby estimated the economic burden of violence against children.

Below is a summary of the report’s findings:

Monetary value of DALYs lost from nonfatal violence against children

The estimated economic value of the lost DALYs attributable to fatal violence against children was R6.2 billion in 2015 – or 0.16% of South Africa’s GDP in 2015.

Reduced earnings

The total monthly productivity loss attributable to physical violence against children and emotional violence against children in South Africa in 2015 were R2, 1 billion and R797, 3 Million, respectively.

Those figures multiplied by 12 amount to R25.2 billion (0.63%of GDP) and ZAR9.6 billion (0.24% of GDP), respectively, spanning the year 2015.

Child welfare costs

Overall, provinces in South Africa spent ZAR1.58 billion (0.04% of GDP) on child care and protection in fiscal year 2015/2016.

Total estimated cost of violence against children in South Africa

In sum, the report finds that violence against children costs the country R238.58 billion – or 6 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product in 2015.

As indicated, The report finds that the economic burden of violence against children in South Africa is substantial.

Save the Children South Africa states that the purpose of the report is to raise awareness of policy-makers on the lifetime impacts of violence against children, guide budget allocation and investment, and provide data for economic evaluations of interventions to reduce or prevent violence against children.

Learn More: violenceunwrapped.savethechildren.org.za