Forum highlights "pandemic levels" of violence against children

11 July 2002
THE First Annual Forum of the UCT Centre of the Study of Violence and Mental Health, which was held earlier this year at Valkenberg Hospital, is to be featured in the latest edition of the Southern African Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

"The theme of the Forum, "Children and Violence", echoes that of World Mental Health Day 2002 and reflects an awareness of the pandemic levels of violence in the lives of South African children," says Lesley Liebowitz of UCT's Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health.

The day-long programme was divided into three sessions: Violence in Children's Worlds, Children Who Offend and Caring for Carers. Speakers were practioners and researchers in the field of violence and mental health.

According to Liebowitz, the Forum provided a much-needed opportunity for dialogue between researchers and practioners in the field of violence and mental health.

"Hopefully, the Forum also facilitated increased networking among service providers and emphasised research priorities for academics," she added.

The Forum covered issues around the culture of violence that South African children are exposed to, the responsibilities of communities, the crisis in juvenile justice in South Africa and the emotional demands on frontline workers working with perpetrators and victims.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Mental Health hopes to highlight the necessity of research to inform the development of "strategically planned and evidence-based services for effective and efficient prevention of violence and the management of health related issues in South Africa. As well as to build institutional networks of expertise to enhance community capacity to address the issue".

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