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EBLS: Stellenbosch, South Africa




Stellenbosch is a municipality adjacent to Cape Town and is renowned for both its agriculture (largely wine-farming) and its university. The last South African census was in 2011 and describes the municipality as covering an area of approximately 900km2 and having a population of approximately 155,700. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 15.2%, but higher – 21.5% - among young people aged 15-24. While 93% of households had access to electricity for lighting, nearly 20% did not have piped water in their dwelling or its yard. Over one in five (20.6%) of households had no income.

The Optimus Study South Africa, a nationally representative study of child maltreatment, found that of children interviewed in schools, 42.2% had experienced some form of maltreatment, and 82.0% had experienced some form of victimisation (including family or community violence). Child homicides occur in South Africa at more than twice the global rate, and child maltreatment is a precursor in nearly half these deaths. The Optimus Study also identified a range of social problems associated with child maltreatment, including parental substance misuse, poverty, anxiety, and depression. Positive parenting was identified as a possible protective factor for children, and South Africa is also the birthplace of the Parenting for Lifelong Health suite of parent support programmes, which are aimed at promoting positive parenting and reducing harsh parenting.

The research team in South Africa will be co-led by Prof. Catherine L. Ward from the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town, and Prof. Mark Tomlinson from the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University. Prof. Ward’s research interests are in violence prevention from the perspective of children's development; she co-led the Optimus Study South Africa and is a part of the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative. Prof. Tomlinson has a particular interest in maternal health and infant and child development in conditions of high social adversity, as well as developing community-based prevention programmes; he is also a part of the Parenting for Lifelong Health team.


Image source: Creative Commons