n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Our children in crisis : an analysis of cases at the Sunlight Safe House in Gauteng




Child maltreatment is a serious concern in South Africa and significantly undermines the development and wellbeing of children affected by it. This study aimed to explore the types of abuse that were reported for children brought to the Sunlight Safe House; an after-hours service for abused and abandoned children based in Johannesburg. The sample consisted of 1 461 cases opened at the Sunlight Safe House between January 2006 and June 2012 and included children from birth to 18 years of age. Demographic and circumstantial data were captured for each child as part of a monitoring exercise, and were then analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results of the study indicated that more female children (55%) had been removed than males (45%), while the mean age for children was 6.1 years ( = 5.1). Sixty-four per cent of cases involved child maltreatment, of which the most common type was neglect (36%). A chi-square test revealed a significant association between the sex of a child and the type of abuse reported (Χ24 = 93.509, = 0.000); all but two of the sexual abuse cases involved female children. A significant association was also found between the age of children and type of abuse (Χ272 = 548.791, = 0.000), with children under one year of age exhibiting the highest rates of abandonment, and children between the ages of one and three years exhibiting the highest rates of neglect.


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