The Contribution of Safe Parks to school safety:

Lessons from the Thari-programme




adverse childhood experiences, child and youth care workers, safe parks, school violence, Thari programme


Unsafe and violent schools are a widespread problem in South Africa. This paper argues that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) contribute to this phenomenon. While various individual and community-level interventions to address ACEs have been reported on, the contribution of safe parks towards preventing school violence has not yet been explored. To support schools in dealing with violence, the Adopt-a-School Foundation introduced a pilot project at eight schools in Botshabelo in the Free State Province. The programme included psychosocial support services, establishing safe parks, and ensuring community involvement. The goal was to improve school communities by creating environments that are empowering, academically effective, gender sensitive and free from violence. Although there are safe parks in communities around South Africa, they are an uncommon sight at schools. This paper reports on the quantitative study conducted on safe parks’ contribution to making schools safer and less violent. Results show that safe park activities improve community well-being, including reduced gangsterism, enhanced learner safety, and decreased disciplinary problems. It is recommended that safe parks continue to provide psychosocial services to children at schools and that their programmes be expanded to include more services.


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How to Cite

Reyneke, R. (2024). The Contribution of Safe Parks to school safety: : Lessons from the Thari-programme. Perspectives in Education, 42(1), 218–237.



March 2024 Violence in South African schools Special Edition March 2024