Challenges of children and youth in South African townships

Children and youth in South Africa suffer various challenges. The most vulnerable and most affected are the poor communities. Below you find a few statistics that highlight some of these challenges.

Children and youth of South Africa

Statistics South Africa[1] and the Optimus Study[2] reveal alarming information about children and youth of our country:

  • 63% of South Africa’s youth is unemployed (at beginning of 2019).
  • Research has indicated that the youth face high risks of being vulnerable to crime.
  • 35.4% children (every third child) have experienced some form of sexual abuse.
  • 12.2% young people reported having experienced some form of neglect during their lifetime.

The department of social development[3] reveals that 29% of youth admitted past month binge[4] drinking. Further challenges in the township mentioned by schools and day care centres are teenage pregnancies, substance abuse, physical abuse and the absence of fathers/father figures.

Impact and consequences for the future generation

The impact and consequences for our children and youth are devastating:

Unemployment

The unemployed lose their self-esteem, purpose and sense of achievement.  Increased depression and other health issues affect the concerned. In addition, unemployment is a major contributor to crime.[5]

Violence and abuse

People, who are exposed to violence and abuse, may suffer a variety of consequences. These may include injuries and mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many children, who are abused, both physically and sexually, grow up with a very low self-esteem and poor image problems. They fall behind in school. They continue to engage in sexual activity.

Bring back hope to the township

Statistics South Africa[6] recommends to establish and increase access to a wide range of recreational facilities and services of particular interest to young people in order to prevent involvement in crime. In terms of unemployment they suggest to create enabling environments that attract young people into starting businesses. Creating an enabling environment that will propel young people to consider education as the best tool to poverty alleviation. Furthermore they recommend providing vocational skills for unemployed youth, school leavers and graduates of tertiary institutions.


[1] Statistics South Africa, http://www.statssa.gov.za, retrieved May 2019
[2] Optimus Study South Africa: Technical Report, UBS Optimus Foundation, June 2016
[3] National drug masterplan 2013-2017
[4] Binge: imbibed 5 “drinks” or more within a few hours on 1 or more days
[5] https://smallbusiness.chron.com/overall-effects-unemployment-37104.html, retrieved July 2018
[6] Statistics South Africa, Vulnerable Groups Series I:The Social Profile of the Youth, 2009-2014, Report 03-19-01