Violence against children and human capital in South Africa

Zheng Xiaodong, Xiangming Fang, Hope Ugboke, Deborah Fry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is the first study in South Africa to investigate the association of violence against children with human capital development, including short- and long-term health and educational outcomes. Hypotheses were tested by applying logistic regressions, zero inflated poisson regressions, linear regressions and ordered logistic regressions with a large and representative sample of adolescents from the Cape Area Panel Study (CAPS). Household fixed effects model and treatment-effects model were performed to check the robustness of the results. Analyses indicate that 58% of adolescents in South Africa have experienced physical or emotional violence in childhood. All forms of violence, especially physical violence, are associated with adverse physical and mental health, poorer academic achievement and lower education level of the victims in both the short and long term. Adolescent males who have experienced violence in childhood are more likely to report poorer educational outcomes and long-term physical health, while female victims are at higher risk of mental illness. The findings provide support for the negative effects of violence against children on health and educational outcomes, which lead to increasing inequalities that impact on the future development of South Africa. Urgent violence against children prevention programming is needed alongside health and educational initiatives in the country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Early online date29 Sep 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2018


  • iolence against children
  • human capital
  • health
  • education
  • South Africa


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