The economic burden of violence against children in South Africa in 2015 was 173 billion rand, the equivalent of $13.5 billion, according to a study led by a researcher at the Georgia State University School of Public Health.
[Photo: Dr. Xiangming Fang]
That estimate includes the value of years of life lost due to illness, disability or early death caused by violence, as well as the cost of survivors’ reduced earnings and the cost of child welfare services.
A team of researchers, working in collaboration with children’s rights advocacy group Save the Children South Africa, compiled data from national databases, journals and reports to assess the prevalence and consequences of violence against children. Researchers also developed a formula, taking into account the health outcomes linked to violence, to help calculate its cost.
The results are published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the article “The Economic Burden of Violence against Children in South Africa.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Xiangming Fang, associate professor of health management and policy at Georgia State.
According to the study, more than 2.3 million years of lost life were attributable to violence against children in South Africa in 2015. Nearly 55 million people live in the country, and its gross domestic product in 2015 was $727.9 billion.
“Our estimates of disability-adjusted life years lost to nonfatal violence against children are greater than the corresponding South African estimates for diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases,” the researchers said.
The researchers also noted that South Africa spent the equivalent of $124 million on childcare and protection in fiscal year 2015 – 2016, much of which was directly related to violence against children.
“Given such costs, violence against children is not only a human rights and moral issue, but also an economic one,” the researchers said.
The study’s authors also include Dr. Xiaodong Zheng, with China Agricultural University; Dr. Deborah A. Fry and Ms. Tabitha Casey, with the University of Edinburgh; Mr. Gary Ganz and Dr. Catherine L. Ward, with the University of Cape Town; and Dr. Celia Hsiao, with Save the Children South Africa. Dr. Fang also is affiliated with China Agricultural University.