Perspective

White Location, Knysna

The following opinion piece was published in a South African newspaper, The Daily Maverick, on June 13, 2019. We shall let it speak for itself.

Resolving South Africa’s Brutal Order – Andrew Faull

Democratic societies become violent when their governments lose the monopoly on force, and trust between citizens and the state erodes. This is according to Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, whose 2018 book A Savage Order explains how even the most violent democratic societies can find peace. Read in the context of South Africa’s newly elected government, it suggests that good leadership should be able to turn the country’s violent tide.

Kleinfeld identifies two reasons democracies become plagued by violence. The first is when states are too weak to sustain the rule of law. This occurs when governments lack the resources and skills to govern. Such states can be reformed with aid, training and political will.

The second reason is that political and economic elites manipulate budgets and policies in favour of particular communities, for example, apartheid and state capture. This often happens in collaboration with violent groups and contributes to the erosion of criminal justice institutions so their abuse goes unchecked. Kleinfeld notes that this is common in highly unequal societies.

In time, violence that begins with the state saturates society. It becomes the tool through which people solve problems with friends and neighbours. Knowing the state is unlikely to respond to calls for help or hold them accountable for their actions, citizens use violence with increasing impunity. This holds true in South Africa where most violence occurs between people who know each other.

Impunity is a common feature in South Africa where even the act of murder can be met without consequence. In the Hammanskraal precinct about 50km north of Pretoria, it is reported that not one person has been convicted for the 543 murders recorded in 2017 and 2018.

In such societies, citizens turn to vigilantism, community groups and gangs for security and justice. Those who can afford it barricade their homes and employ private security guards. South Africa has 3.4 private security personnel for every police officer.

Although some people may believe that South Africa’s violence emerged with democracy, it started long before 1994. It was the apartheid-era elites who used the violence of the military, police and prison to suppress the majority of South Africans because of the colour of their skin.

It was the apartheid state that failed to provide adequate, professional policing to black communities so that they became custodians of coercive force. And it was the apartheid state that destroyed such communities when it forcibly relocated them, allowing gangs to monopolise force in new settlements. Apartheid taught South Africans that violence is a legitimate expression of authority and therefore also of resistance.

Democracy brought an opportunity for reform. Police were deployed where they were previously absent and sworn to serve all equally. Millions who previously distrusted the state turned to it for help, and violence once invisible to the middle class became visible.

But although the murder rate more than halved between 1993 and 2011, violence remains endemic. South Africans’ trust in government and each other is weak, while extreme unemployment and poverty sustain chronic stress and social strain.

Kleinfeld suggests that reform of violent democracies must be driven by the middle class – which is perhaps problematic for South Africa where the majority remain poor. It is easy, she writes, for corrupt governments to ignore the indigent, but not the middle class. Her middle class are people with enough education, income and aspiration to be independent of the state and are therefore able to place pressure on governments to act fairly.

South Africa’s many poor are highly dependent on the state, with 45% of households receiving at least one government grant. At the same time, thousands of professionals emigrate each year. This does not bode well for reform, although the middle-class support for and confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa is a start.

According to Kleinfeld, leaders capable of restoring a state’s monopoly of force and ending endemic violence possess key traits: they have vision, are decisive, employ skilled technocrats, communicate with and are answerable to the public, and get the state working fast. They use intelligence and surveillance, informants and asset seizures to end impunity at the top. Then they steer reform down through government and the private sector, to schools, clinics, streets and homes.

Ramaphosa’s initiatives to reform the National Prosecuting Authority and the State Security Agency and tackle corruption are vital. If the African National Congress (ANC) is unable to remove its corrupt comrades itself, the criminal justice system must do it instead. This means rapidly reforming the South African Police Service, particularly its intelligence and priority crimes components, and fixing the prosecution service. But it also means professionalising front-line policing.

Regaining the monopoly of force does not mean putting everyone who breaks the law in prison. It simply means responding swiftly and fairly when people call on the police for help and when state intervention is required.

When South Africans believe that the state is responsive, trust will grow. In turn, more people will pay taxes, further enabling government to improve the economy and deliver much-needed services. These include the many primary violence prevention initiatives known to be effective, and which can help South Africa to heal. But in the absence of democratic rule of law, a growing economy and public trust, violence prevention will struggle to have society-wide impact.

Andrew Faull is a senior researcher, Justice and Violence Prevention, ISS Pretoria.

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From Canada

One of Janet’s study groups – Concordia High School (2019)

Our two lives are separated by over 13,000 kilometres. And such different places in so many ways. Returning to Canada is always an adjustment, despite our appreciation for the wonderful country we call home.

Three of Janet’s students received awards for top marks in math.

While in Canada, Janet remains connected with many of her students and is able to continue to tutor in English, math, and science through social media. Likewise, Jim remains in touch with some of the young men he mentors.

Jim delivering soccer boots (cleats) early April 2019.

In early April, soccer boots (i.e. cleats) were provided to each of the 5 soccer teams. The program continues to thrive, with tournaments most weekends. The 5 groups of boys are working well together, and we continue to enjoy peace in the schools and on the streets.

Warriors soccer team with their new boots (cleats).

Coach Justice has done a terrific job of organizing weekly soccer tournaments and providing a professional and highly competitive outlet for the guys. Thank you, Justice.

Jim and Herb Hunter (far right) with Interact members.

Jim was invited to speak to the Knysna Rotary Club in April on the topic of youth gangsterism. Herb Hunter (photo – far right) is the Rotary member responsible for Interact Clubs (junior Rotary) in each of the local high schools. Herb, a Canadian who now resides in Knysna, invited some Interact representatives to attend.

Carpentry Skills graduation (April 2019). Don (standing – far left), Coop (standing – center), Jim.

For the 3rd consecutive year, our friend Coop delivered a  9 week basic carpentry skills program to 15 youth. Assisted by fellow Canadian, Don, the young guys acquired a range of skills. This top-notch program concluded with the construction of a one room addition to a house where a paraplegic man resides. Well done, Coop and Don.

Knysna, South Africa sunset – April 2019

Thank you for your readership and continued support, 

Janet and Jim

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Soccer Upstages Gangsterism

Centre-rear: Coach Justice

You are already familiar with these faces from our previous blog posts about the Peace Agreement signed in December 2018.

However, notice the more relaxed body language and nobody throwing gang signs.

Red cap: Coach Justice

“U a great guy jimmy… Nd ii gotta thnk u cause if it wasn’t for u then mby some of our friends would have been stabbed to but ii thnk u for opening our eyes nd showing us that there is more to life than being a gangster nd beating each other up…I thnk u for everything u have done so far nd ii hope we wil walk a long path together 🙏 Jim.
U an inspiration for many people nd thnx for what u doing ii hope people appreciate what u doing. K.L. (Message sent by leader of one group – March 28th)

L to R: Coop, Rumano (grade 10), Jim

Our previous blog post described how Jim and Coop had retained an experienced Coach and were planning a soccer clinic for 3 boys from each of 5 groups (4 of 5 groups who signed the Peace Agreement plus a 6th group). Funding for the clinic was provided by a donation to the Khayamandi Foundation by Don, an American who recently visited Knysna and met with some gang-involved youth through Jim.

March 9th 2019 – Soccer Clinic

The soccer clinic was a success. We provided transportation and all 15 boys “pitched”, as they say in South Africa. Three were in Jim’s car, and 12 in a taxi van. The 12 in the taxi had a history of violent fighting and this was the first time in a long while that many had been together under the pretence of peace. The boys were tentative at first, but that quickly changed on the soccer field. And the ride home included many laughs between new friends.

March 9th 2019 Soccer Clinic

The clinic concluded with a soccer match that included many local youth who were also on the field. Our 15 guys are standing and wearing orange bibs.

Soccer Clinic wrap-up by Coop

At the end of the clinic, each threesome was provided some basic equipment and challenged to return to their group and institute a training schedule. “Demonstrate that you are serious, and Coach Justice will commence weekly coaching visits and we will provide soccer boots (cleats)”. 

standing: Coach Justice

And it is happening. Justice has commenced coaching sessions with each group and soccer boots (cleats) were delivered to 2 groups last week. Some of the groups initiated soccer matches on their own. Two teams played on each of the 2 previous Sundays, and a mini-tournament involving 4 groups and Coach Justice is scheduled for today.

The Peace Agreement remains in effect, and the soccer program is helping to reinforce and maintain peace. Damaged relationships are being rekindled, and new friendships established.

Peace Agreement Group 5

Yet there remains work to be done. There are numerous youth gangs in the community and not all respond to the same approach. The 5th group to sign the December Peace Agreement is one example.

Far right: Welcome Witbooi

Welcome Witbooi (see photo) is a reformed gangster who now works with gang-involved youth and impacted communities across South Africa.

The prison system in South Africa is controlled by the notorious Number Gangs; the 26’s, 27’s, and 28’s. The highest rank in each gang is General, and the dominant gang is the 28’s. Welcome joined a street gang at age 13 and was sentenced to 23 years at age 17. He served 14 years, prior to being released 7 years ago.

Welcome is a retired 4-Star General in the 28’s, the highest rank attainable. Stars are earned by stabbing or killing a prison warder (guard), or designated inmate. While death is typically the only way out of the 28’s, there is sometimes another option for a General. That’s how Welcome got out. (Click to learn how)

Group 5

Welcome was recently in Knysna to conduct a workshop and start the process of developing a Gang and Violence prevention strategy for the town. The workshop and 2 speaking engagements were sponsored by KILT; the Knysna Initiative for Learning and Teaching.

KILT kindly scheduled a few hours of Welcome’s time to be spent with Jim, such that they could tour the Location (former townships) and meet with 1 of the groups who signed the Peace Agreement. The meeting was scheduled in advance, and allowed Welcome to speak candidly with the guys.

Walking through the community with Welcome.

While some of the conversation was not in English, it was evident that Welcome’s message was well received, The impact has been positive. Welcome’s credibility as someone who knows the harsh reality of life in the 28’s, and prison, is invaluable.

Much has been accomplished. Thanks to each of the groups, and the willingness of many of the guys to make more responsible choices, the boys in Janet’s study program now attend schools which are considerably safer.

Peace means the groups are no longer fighting during or after school, or carrying weapons to school. And this means walking to and from school is safer for students attending 3 high schools.

Thank you for your readership and continued support, 

Janet and Jim

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Three Steps Forward

Janet at Percy Mdala High School

Janet’s study groups are thriving, with attendance at all-time highs. After-school tutoring includes English, math, and science from Monday to Thursday, and university planning sessions on Fridays.

Penny at Percy Mdala High School

Penny N, our Canadian friend, devotes 2 days a week to Janet’s study groups during her annual stay in South Africa. Penny’s role continues to expand each year and she has become a valuable resource and colleague to Janet.

Penny at Percy Mdala High School

With Janet and Penny working together, the Percy Mdala study group has expanded to include 15 learners. Noticeably absent are Ntokozo, Sibongakonke, and Khanyisa, each of whom completed high school in 2018 and commenced university 1 month ago!

Don (far right) with the guys – January 2019.

Six weeks ago our friend, Kurt (Khayamandi Foundation board member), visited Knysna from America. Accompanying Kurt was a friend and business colleague, Don S, whose donations to Khayamandi directly benefit a young man we have known since grade 11 and who completes his undergraduate university degree in 2019.

Don (rear-centre) with the guys – January 2019.

This was Don’s first trip to the African continent. While in Knysna, Jim toured Don through the former townships and introduced him to members of 2 of the 5 groups who signed the December 2018 Peace Agreement. As the boys guided Don through their community, they were able to chat.

Jim with the guys (photo by Don) – January 2019.

Now that we have peace, a void has been created. The time previously devoted to fighting needs to be filled and the boys helped convince Don that soccer could be a healthy part of the solution. Discussions were initiated with a soccer coach Jim met in November and a proposal was submitted to Don. Long story short…Don generously provided the necessary funding. The coach has been retained and 2-3 boys from each of 5 groups have been selected to attend an upcoming soccer clinic designed to launch the program.

Coop meeting students on Day 1 of the Basic Carpentry Skills program – February 1, 2019.

Our friend Coop is from America and spends 3 months each year in South Africa. Coop runs a basic carpentry skills program on 9 consecutive Fridays for boys 15-21 years of age, most of whom ceased attending school in grades 7 or 8. This year, 8 of the 15 boys are members of the groups who signed the December Peace Agreement. Coop is being assisted again this year by our Canadian friend, Don C.

Coop instructing the 2018 class.

Jim recruits the students during November-December, and Coop and Don develop the program and provide the training. Coop and Don deliver an outstanding program, and the young guys absolutely love it. Breakfast and lunch are included, which means ample quantities of fresh food personally prepared by Coop and Don!

Three steps forward…Much has been accomplished, but not all is positive.

Sadly, the 17 year-old boy in the above photo was stabbed and killed on February 3, 2019. His death was not gang-related, hence the Peace Agreement was not compromised. Junior, as he was known to his many friends, is fondly remembered and will not be forgotten.

February 19, 2019

Peace prevails, but there was a hiccup. 

Earlier this week, there was an altercation between a lone boy from one group and 8 boys from another. The single boy apparently did not want to give way to 8 boys walking abreast towards him. The first time, the 8 boys parted and let him pass. Later the same day, the single boy held his ground and pushed 1 of the 8 to the side. The 8 guys beat him.

The next day, the single boy gathered some of his friends and initiated a revenge fight against the 8. One positive aspect is that neither fight involved knives.

February 19, 2019

The day after the revenge fight both groups of boys were ready to talk and wanted to restore peace. Jim drove the 4 boys responsible for the revenge fight to the hangout of the group of 8, and there we met with approximately 20 of their members.

The atmosphere was initially tense, but slowly progress was made. These photos depict the process as it unfolded, which eventually resulted in handshakes, smiles, and laughter. Peace was restored, which means safer streets, safer schools, and healthier communities.

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

Thank you for your readership and continued support, 

Janet and Jim

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Peace Update

January 17 2019

We still have peace. At least as of 5pm yesterday.

Almost 5 weeks have elapsed since the fifth group of boys signed the Peace Agreement. Although there has been one fight involving two groups, the culprit was quick to assume responsibility for his actions. The boy agreed to accompany Jim to the room where the other group hangs out and, once Jim laid the groundwork to ensure the boy’s safety, he entered, apologized, and touched thumbs with each guy in the room. Very impressive.

High school classes resumed on January 9th, and a few boys who ceased attending school last year due to the fighting have returned. Close monitoring of each groups’ activities inside and outside of school remains a priority, along with one-on-one meetings to develop plans for individual boys.

Janet’s favourite boy “Clarke”.

Janet’s boys who completed high school in 2018 and now commence university in February are busy preparing for their departures to Cape Town and elsewhere. One of Janet’s most dedicated students (Khanyisa) attained the top marks in his grade 12 graduating class! More on Khanyisa and the other university-bound graduates in our next blog post.

Janet and Jim

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Peace Agreement

Over a 9 day period in December, a Peace Agreement was signed by 5 youth gangs. Each group is comprised of approximately 15 boys between 15 and 20 years of age, living in 4 geographic areas or Locations (former townships). Much of Jim’s time since returning to South Africa has been devoted to establishing relationships with the members of each group, and building on those relationships to facilitate a path to peace.

The process included face-to-face meetings between a few boys from each group, such that the boys could hear firsthand that their enemies wanted peace. Three meetings were at a neutral site selected by Jim, and one was at the police station with 3 officers in attendance. Only in the presence of police did the latter group feel sufficiently safe to attend without weapons.

Gangsterism is a huge problem in South Africa. Any reference to gangs, including youth gangs, can understandably elicit a negative reaction from many individuals. While no form of aggression or criminal activity should be condoned, it is important to differentiate between gangsterism with the purpose of criminal activity (e.g. illicit drug trade), and youth gangs fighting over territorial disputes (turf), girls, or seeking revenge for having been stabbed in the past.

For the purpose of this blog post, the term youth gangs shall be used to describe the category of gang involvement which does not include criminal activity as its purpose. For obvious reasons, none of the boys personal or gang names will be mentioned in this post.

We understand if you are wondering how our stated purpose in South Africa would include gang-involved youth. Aside from benefiting the boys who are directly involved, peace between fighting gangs greatly enhances safety for school teachers, students who are not gang-involved, and the community at large.

Weapons seized from 5 students, prior to the Peace Agreement being signed.

While many fights occur away from school where the boys live, some stabbings also occur on school premises or immediately outside the school gate. Knowing that gang-involved students may bring weapons to school and that a fight could occur during or after school hours poses an ongoing distraction to students and teachers alike. Enemy gangs can also target the younger siblings of gang-involved youth, as they provide an indirect means of punishing your enemy.

Much has been written about why boys and men join gangs, and some of that research has been referenced and quoted in previous blog posts. With youth gangs, the motivation often stems from perceived necessity; namely the belief that one is safer belonging to a gang, carrying a knife or weapon, and walking to/from school with “your crew” to protect against the risk of attack from enemies.

Living conditions for some…

While it is true that some youth gang members are involved in crime against innocent individuals, such as robbing people on the street or stealing from homes and businesses, we would contend that the majority of the boys are not involved in these types of crimes. Drug use tends to be the primary reason for those who do steal, in particular crystal methampehtamine (known as “Tik” in South Africa). Most of the the 5-6 boys currently awaiting trial are facing assault charges from having stabbed a member of an enemy gang.

Two groups (3 members from each) negotiating towards peace. The boys agreed to come unarmed and were driven to the meeting site by Jim.

Shortly after a Truce was signed in April 2015 between 3 youth gangs (different gangs than the 5 who signed the December 2018 Peace Agreement), one of the leaders said to Jim: “you trusted us, so we trusted you”.

If we wait to be trusted before granting trust, the wait may be long. Particularly with at-risk youth whose trust has been violated in the past.

Former enemies, moments after agreeing to peace. The young man wearing dark glasses was stabbed in 2018 and lost his eye. He receives a prosthetic replacement in 2019.

Individuals and organisations wanting to connect with disenfranchised youth living in circumstances which include poverty, drugs, and violence have a powerful set of tools at their disposal. Open, honest, non-judgemental communication in a manner which reflects affinity and a desire to help is more likely to prove effective than lectures, punishment, or violence.

When combined with kindness, empathy, and humour, don’t be surprised if troubled young people soon feel sufficiently safe to reveal the wrongs they have committed and express a desire for change.

Members of Group 1 and 2 signing the Peace Agreement. The background in the following photos serves as examples of living conditions and the environment.

Groups 1 and 2, moments after signing the Peace Agreement.

Group 3, moments after signing the Peace Agreement.

Group 3 displaying the signed Peace Agreement in the shack where they hang out.

Group 4, moments after signing the Agreement in the shack where one of the boys lives.

As soon as the 5 groups expressed interest in a Peace Agreement, the situation on the streets started to change. Even before the Agreement was signed, Jim started noticing guys walking through their former enemies’ Locations. It was strange to see, and initially concerning. But each gang started to relate similar stories: “I was able to walk to the health clinic for the first time in years”. “It’s okay Jim, we are friends now”.

Representatives of Group 5 signing the Peace Agreement in Jim’s car.

There remains much more to accomplish. Schools re-open January 9th for the first time since the Peace Agreement was signed, meaning increased contact between members of the 5 groups. Opportunities such as vocational skills-training are needed for the boys who dropped out of school or were forced to leave due to fighting or stabbing at school.  Maintaining peace now becomes the priority.

Group 5 displaying the completed Peace Agreement – 10 signatures. Update: Boy on far right – stabbed and died Feb 3, 2019 – unrelated to gangs included in Peace Agreement – RIP.

“If you want to know a person’s true character, observe how he treats those who don’t matter”.  Matshona Dhliwayo

Thank you for your continued interest and support,

Janet and Jim

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Childhood Adversity

The learning curve in Africa is steep. What makes this statement significant is that newcomers to Africa often fail to spot this reality; at least in our experience. In fairness, it isn’t easy to appreciate the steepness of the learning curve. It happened to us, and then again, and then again.

If the problems in Africa are so obvious – poverty, hunger, under-resourced schools – surely the solutions are equally obvious. Provide a hungry kid with food, clothes, help with homework, a coach or mentor, and he’s bound to perform considerably better in school and life. Or so one might assume. The reality is not this formulaic, and it can deal a heavy blow to well-intentioned volunteers.

Too many failures and the volunteer is at risk of abandoning their cause. Worse still, the volunteer may become critical of those he/she is trying to help and wrongly conclude that they are “the problem”.

Home of a grade 11 boy we have known since grade 8.

“I wish someone had told me to hold my opinions and beliefs lightly, because they can get in the way of understanding”. 

– Zita Cobb (Canadian businesswoman / social entrepreneur)

Knysna (White Location overlooking Thesen Islands & Knysna town centre)

Poverty in South Africa is the norm, in that it impacts the majority of the populace. The majority live in poverty and suffer food insecurity. The unemployment rate among young people approaches 50%.

The learning curve in Africa is steep to the extent that we do not comprehend the fallout from these statistics, and years of childhood adversity. Smiling faces, laughing children, and neatly pressed school uniforms can conceal the damaging effects of growing up in adversity.

Knysna

Some might argue that children are resilient, and will overcome childhood trauma and adversity. Findings from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) – Kaiser ACE Study conducted in California (1995-1997) demonstrate otherwise.

ACE is the acronym for Adverse Childhood Experience. Over 17,000 members of an American health insurance plan participated in the original study, followed by ongoing surveillance of the original study participants.

The study’s findings revealed how Adverse Childhood Experiences, prior to age 18, strongly related to the development of risk factors for disease and well-being throughout life.

Ace scores are calculated using 10 questions, whereby each YES answer counts as 1 point towards an ACE score total of 0 to 10. The 10 questions deal with issues such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect, living with an alcoholic or drug user, whether parents were separated or divorced, whether a  household member went to prison, etc.

Link to: ACE Questionnaire

Knysna (Concordia Location)

In the following video, Dr. Robert Anda explains the cumulative risk-effect between higher ACE scores and greater health and social problems, including smoking, alcohol use, drug abuse, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, early onset of sexual activity, suicide, tendency towards domestic or sexual violence, and chronic disease.

ACE Video – Dr. Robert Anda (2:38 mins)

Individuals with an ACE score of 4 are twice as likely to be smokers, 7 times more likely to be alcoholic, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, 32 times more likely to have a learning or behaviour problem in school.

ACE scores of 6 and above shorten lifespans by 20 years.

Knysna (Concordia Location)- Jim providing a soccer ball

“…youth who have experienced trauma are at significant risk for impairments across various cognitive functions, including IQ, memory, attention and language/verbal ability; poorer academic performance and school-related behaviours such as discipline, dropout and attendance; and higher rates of behavioural problems and internalizing symptoms.” –Maynard et al 2017 (Effects of trauma-informed approaches in schools)

“…toxic stress can make it difficult for children to moderate their responses to disappointments and provocations. A highly sensitive stress-response system constantly on the lookout for threats can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating in school: fighting, talking back, acting up,…” – Paul Tough (Helping Children Succeed)

Read the full book (pdf): Helping Children Succeed (Paul Tough)

Ace scores of 4 are common among the boys we know. Among many of the youth Jim mentors, ACE’s of 6-8 are not unusual.

There are 4 boys in the preceding photo, ranging in age from 15-16. One completed grade 8 before dropping out mid grade 9. Two dropped out mid grade 8, another stopped school in grade 7 (unable to read), and one recently returned to repeat grade 8.

The four boys have ACE scores between 6 and 9; one 6, two 8’s, and a 9.  All are struggling, and one is now in prison awaiting trial on serious charges.

Children with toxic stress live much of their lives in fight, flight or fright (freeze) mode. They respond to the world as a place of constant danger. With their brains overloaded with stress hormones and unable to function appropriately, they can’t focus on learning. They fall behind in school or fail to develop healthy relationships with peers or create problems with teachers and principals because they are unable to trust adults. Some kids do all three. With despair, guilt and frustration pecking away at their psyches, they often find solace in food, alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamines, inappropriate sex, high-risk sports, and/or work and over-achievement. They don’t regard these coping methods as problems. Consciously or unconsciously, they use them as solutions to escape from depression, anxiety, anger, fear and shame.”  – Jane Ellen Stevens

“What all this means, says Anda (Dr. Robert Anda) is that we need to prevent adverse childhood experiences and, at the same time, change our systems – educational, criminal justice, healthcare, mental health, public health, workplace – so that we don’t further traumatize someone who’s already traumatized. You can’t do one or the other and hope to make any progress.” – Jane Ellen Stevens Click for more: Aces Too High

What to do:

 1.  insulate infants and children from chronic stress and adverse environments.

Schools and institutions which advocate zero tolerance, corporal punishment, shaming, or lack of compassion serve to further traumatize.

Some schools in North America and elsewhere are enlightening teachers on the ACE study, with the goal of becoming “trauma-informed schools”.

2. Make sure youth growing up in adversity have caring, responsible, adults in their life.

Such individuals serve as a buffer from further adversity.

Now it’s time for us to pack our bags and prepare for the long trip back to South Africa. We look forward to sending our next update from the southern tip of the African continent, 13,240 kilometres from our home in Canada.

Thank you for continuing to follow our blog and support our initiatives.  

Janet, Jim, & Clarke

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