The ChildSafe research programme has helped to create a comprehensive picture of childhood injuries and deaths in South Africa. The results of the programme have been used extensively in national and international studies focusing on child safety and harm prevention.

Prevention of Road Injuries to Children in South Africa

In partnership with UNICEF, in 2018, ChildSafe conducted an extensive research project into the current status of child pedestrian injuries across South Africa. The project, Prevention of Road Injuries to Children in South Africa, sought to identify, evaluate, capture and engage the local child safety knowledge base and external stakeholders in creating a responsive policy environment for children’s road safety.

The project was conducted in two phases: a literature review and workshops and one-on-one meetings across the country. The workshop discussions focused on the 4 Es, of Education, Enforcement, Engineering and Evaluation; and Advocacy. Representatives from each province were invited to outline their province’s approach to road safety from the perspective of each of the Four Es, and a summary of the advocacy work underway in each province. In the one-on-one meetings, individuals summarised the main challenges of the provinces regarding child pedestrian injuries. The report will help to inform policy and guidance to reduce road injuries to children.


Child Restraint Research

hildren are vulnerable road users in South Africa (SA), with road traffic crashes being the second leading cause of death for children aged 5 – 14 years. Two road-user groups, child pedestrians and child passengers, are particularly vulnerable, constituting 62% and 36% of child road fatalities, respectively. Several interventions have been proposed to reduce this preventable burden, including the appropriate use of child restraints. Evidence shows that, when installed correctly, child restraints can reduce the likelihood of a road traffic fatality by between 54% and 80%, depending on the child’s age. The 2015 National Road Traffic Act mandates the use of a South African Bureau of Standards-approved child restraint for all child passengers under the age of 3 years and requires children aged 3 years and older to sit in the rear and use a seatbelt.

From May 2015 it is illegal to for an infant (a child under 3 years) to travel without being strapped into a suitable car seat. The relevant Legal Extracts:

Reg213. (1C) An infant is a person below the age of three years

Reg213. (6A) The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a public road shall ensure that an infant traveling in such a motor vehicle is seated on an appropriate child restraint: Provided that this provision shall not apply in a case of a minibus, minibus or bus operating for reward


Injuries database

In 1991, ChildSafe established the first childhood injuries database, tracking the causes of injuries suffered by children admitted to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Around 10 000 children are admitted to the trauma unit at the hospital. The data we collect underpins the work we to do prevent harm and injury to children. At the time of writing, we have recorded around 150 000 childhood injuries on the database.

The database provides a national surveillance system on childhood injuries in South Africa. Over the years, we have used specially adapted data mining technology to analyse the data, which has also been used in multiple clinical and epidemiological studies regarding childhood injuries. The results of these studies have been published extensively in various fields, including child abuse, child sexual abuse, gunshot injuries, ingestion of foreign bodies, traffic related Injuries, facial injuries, head injuries, dog bites, and specific orthopaedic injuries such as cervical spine injuries and fractures in osteogenesis imperfecta.

The ChildSafe Childhood Injuries Database is regarded as a major resource in South Africa, used by national and international organisations in the public and private sector, to inform a response to childhood injuries across the country



Whenever possible, ChildSafe lobbies for and participates in campaigns focused on child rights and injury prevention, as they arise and become relevant.

Policy and legislation

We are involved in advocacy programmes that inform legislation, and contribute to the development of state policies and programmes. We participate by making submissions to new legislation while the legislation is still in bill form. We also make recommendations for legislation and specifications on products designed to be used by children.

National child road safety summit

In 2019, ChildSafe is spearheading a national summit on child road safety. Road safety is a national health concern. Road-related injuries and death affects every part of our society, from the economy, to the health sector, to the education sector and, of course, the transport sector. The National Summit on Child Road Safety is designed to bring together stakeholders from the public and private sector, as well as civil society and the general public, to discuss how road safety can be improved in South Africa. Details about the summit will be issued in due course. Please contact us to let us know you’d like to hear more.


Our education programme focuses on raising public awareness of how to reduce injuries to children. The programme enables everyone, from caregivers and parents to businesses and educational institutions, an opportunity to understand how to keep children safe, prevent harm and reduce injuries.

Contact us to find out more about:

Home Safety

Home Safety Programme contributes to overall safety of young children in and around the home. Children under age of 6 years are most at risk of preventable injuries in and around the home such as falls, poison, suffocation, drowning, choking, electrocution, etc.

The Home Safety Programme also has a Burn Prevention Programme module, which consist of two innovative concepts to prevent burns in the home, the Safe Candle and the Kettle Strap. Young children are particularly vulnerable to injuries and death because of burns injuries.

Burn prevention

Safer Candle Project

Fallen candles are one of the main causes of shack fires in SA. The Safer Candle promotes safer use of candles in a glass jar, with sand to prevent tipping of the candle.

Kettle Strap Project

Extensive hot water burns are common at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, with the majority caused by kettle scalds due to “pulling the dangling kettle cord”. The Kettle Strap is a device to hold the electric kettle in place even if the cord is pulled, thus preventing it from falling over and potentially burning a child with boiling hot water.

Overall the Home Safety Program aims to increase caregiver awareness of risk to injury in young children, increase caregiver ability to create a safer home, provide basic skills to respond quickly and appropriately in an emergency. The Home Safety Programme offers various training courses that educate people on how to prevent accidents to children under the age of 18. Participants are encouraged to use the information in their work and home environment and to educate others on how to prevent accidents.

Safety Course for Day Care Settings

Who should do this course – Pre-schools, crèches, day-mothers and day care facilities

Course objective is to meet the health and safety needs of children in child care facilities. Course content is comprehensive and sets high safety standards. While not all the policies, procedures and practices recommended on the course will be applicable to all the care facilities, the course does provide a model for child minders to use and adapt to suit the needs of their own day care facility. Course delegates will be required to implement what they have learned by developing a health and safety programme at the childcare facility.

Course content

  • Child development related to injuries
  • Principles of setting up a safe day care setting and safety plans for day care facilities.
  • General injuries at day care facilities, including road accidents, poisoning, burns and evacuation planning, water safety and play safety
  • Identification of and guidance on how to refer cases of child abuse
  • Emergency care and first aid
  • Presentation guidance to facilitate child safety education for pre-schoolers

Delegates who complete the course will receive a certificate for first aid. We also issue a certificate once a safety plan is implemented for the day care facility or pre-school. We will only issue the relevant certificates if delegates attend all sessions and complete the required task of planning a safety policy and programme for their facility.

Course duration – 20 hours

Cost – Contact us for more details.

Venue: – ChildSafe Safety Centre, Red Cross Children’s Hospital,
Klipfontein Road,
Cape Town SA


Be prepared for an emergency

Child Injury Prevention Workshops for Parents and Caregivers

Who should do this course – Expectant parents, new and young parents, caregivers and grandparents; anyone who care for children fulltime.

Course objective is to meet the health and safety needs of young children being cared for during the day in a home setting.

Course content

  • Child development across the age spectrum
  • Principles of setting up a safe home and garden environment.
  • General injuries across the age groups, including road traffic injuries, poisoning, burns and evacuation planning, water safety and play safety
  • How to identify potential injury risk in the home and play area
  • Identification of and guidance on how to refer cases of child abuse
  • Emergency response, care and paediatric first aid
  • How to speak to young children about safety

Delegates who complete the course will receive a certificate for first aid.

Course duration – 20 hours

Cost – Contact us for more details.

Venue: – ChildSafe Safety Centre, Red Cross Children’s Hospital,
Klipfontein Road,
Cape Town SA


Be prepared for an emergency

General Injury Prevention Workshops and Informational Talks

ChildSafe offers various workshops and talks focused on child safety, designed for professionals in training, social workers, health promoters, medical professionals, community health workers and teachers.

Workshop and talks focus on general child safety or on specific topics such as drowning, passenger safety, infant safety, poisoning, burns pedestrian safety, and more.

The events vary in duration half-hour presentations to 4-hour workshops, depending on the request and topics covered.

Family Education

Our homes are an important part of our lives. For children, they provide a place to play, learn, grow and develop. Unfortunately, they are also the most common place for child injury, accounting for 80% of all unintentional injuries in children aged 0-6. Homes are designed for adults and pose several risks for children. Identifying and addressing hazards in and around the house, making small changes, buying more child friendly products and providing effective adult supervision can dramatically reduce the risk of unintentional injury to young children.

Hospital inpatients referrals

ChildSafe provide counselling for caregivers, individuals and groups, continue to provide support to parents and caregivers who deal with the trauma of a child who sustained injuries which are preventable.

The social work department and the other wards of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital refer parents to ChildSafe, whenever they feel a parent would benefit from safety education.

Weekly sessions with carers

ChildSafe collaborate with Friends of the Children’s Hospital to conduct weekly (on a Friday) child safety sessions with parents and caregivers from different wards of the Hospital. The injuries range from road accidents, poisoning, burns and falls amongst others.

The caregivers and parents are provided with a morning long information session about their injury and child safety in general. Parents attending differ from week to week, as the children either get better or are discharged. Parents report finding the sessions useful both for information but also for support from other parents who have similar experience

Pedestrian Safety

Road traffic crashes are a major cause of death and serious injury for South African children, especially those living in low-income communities. Child pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. There are two ChildSafe projects that fall under the umbrella of Pedestrian Safety namely: Walking Safely To School Project (WATCH) and the Child Road Safety Programme.

Walking Safely to School

Rooted in the Safe System Approach, this WATCH project is a multi-stakeholder project funded by the FIA Foundation, with ChildSafe as the lead implementing partner.

The project supports the implementation of a multi sectoral, multi-level approach to prevent child pedestrian injuries and aims to build safer school zones which can simultaneously address vulnerabilities of child pedestrians around project schools, while creating a model for implementation and expansion across the province and eventually the country.

A cluster of 6 schools from low-income neighbourhoods in the Western Cape have been selected as a pilot site for the 24-month first phase of the WATCH project. The six schools that are participating are situated along or close to Bangiso Drive in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. There are 5 primary schools namely Ummangaliso, Sobambisana, Sakumlandela, Ntwasahlobo, Ikhusi and 1 high school, Usasazo.

The project was launched in August 2021. Project interventions include:

  • Road Safety Education – Teachers, schoolchildren
  • Environmental modifications
  • Community engagement
  • Awareness campaigns e.g., Global Road Safety Week & International Walk to School Day
  • Advocacy – Speed reduction to 30km/h in school zones (in line Global Plan of Decade of Action 2021-2030)
  • Research (baseline & post intervention)–e.g., Pedestrian behaviour, speed reduction, Mobility & Knowledge Attitude & Practices (KAP) surveys, Photovoice research

Child Pedestrian Safety Programme

This Ford funded project started in February 2021 and is being implemented in two sites namely Mamelodi (Tshwane) and kwaZakhele (Gqeberha). Other project partners include the provincial governments of Gauteng and the Eastern Cape as well as the relevant local municipalities, namely City of Tshwane and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Progress includes road safety training for teachers as well as awareness events including the 6th United nations Global Road Safety Week, International Walk to School Day 2021 and the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2021. Covid-19 hampered this project as some project activities had to be cancelled (e.g., group learner road safety sessions) or were delayed e.g., school zone road safety audits which in turn delayed the implementation of environmental modifications.