42% of Namibians say child abuse is frequent - survey

• Child safety issues remain prevalent
Ellanie Smit
A recent Afrobarometer survey report indicates that despite a comprehensive legal and policy framework, issues pertaining to the safety and protection of children remain prevalent and persistent in Namibia.

“Young respondents, urban residents, and the poor are more likely than older people, rural residents, and the wealthy to see child abuse and out-of-school children as widespread problems in their communities,” the Afrobarometer report states.

Child abuse perceptions

Child abuse and neglect are more commonly reported as a frequent problem in cities (47%) than in rural areas (37%). The perception of child abuse and neglect as a widespread problem is higher among poor respondents, ranging from 28% of the best-off to 46% of those experiencing moderate or high poverty levels.

The survey shows that 58% of Namibians say parents are sometimes or always justified in using physical force to discipline their children. However, 52% of respondents say the use of physical force to discipline children is not very common in their communities.


Urban residents are significantly more likely than their rural counterparts to report that adults in their community use physical force to discipline children (52% vs. 39%). This perception is also more common among men (49%), the youngest respondents, aged between 18 and 24 years of age (53%), and the poor (51%), than among their respective counterparts, but is less widespread among those with no formal schooling (41%), than among more educated respondents (45%-50%), the survey shows.

Access to help

According to the survey, slightly more than half of Namibians say resources are generally available in their community to help abused and neglected children (55%), children with disabilities (56%), and children and adults with mental or emotional problems (53%). A total of 61% of Namibians say the government is doing a good job of protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable children.

The survey says support services can be crucial for children facing significant challenges in preparing them for successful lives. “Most Namibians live within walking distance of a school (86%). Far fewer people live within walking distance of a health clinic (45%) or have a nearby police station (40%) or government office or social centre (31%), where people can request help.”

Just more than half (55%) say people in their community are generally able to get help for children who have been abused, mistreated or neglected.

Support the young

About the same proportion (55%) says support is available for children with physical disabilities, while 53% say children and adults with mental or emotional problems can get help in the community. “Men and women hold similar views on these questions, as do urban and rural residents, but assessments of the availability of support services differ significantly by respondents’ education and economic levels,” the Afrobarometer report states.

Across the board, citizens who have no formal education and those experiencing high levels of lived poverty are less likely than their more educated and wealthier counterparts to report that support services for vulnerable children are available in their communities.

The poorest citizens are significantly less likely to report available support for abused and neglected children, disabled children and people with mental or emotional problems, it concludes. A total of 42% of Namibians report that frequent child abuse or neglect occurs within their communities.