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Investigating risk and protective factors to mainstream safety and peace at the University of South Africa

L Rodriguez
S Kramer
B Sherriff


Given the high fatality rates resulting from both unintentional and intentional injuries in South Africa, the identification and prevention of risk factors resulting in injurious incidents as well as the promotion of  protective factors is central to the country’s research agenda. While social science and public health enquiries apply these objectives to various South African contexts, few studies investigate manifest risk and protective factors within South African universities. Accordingly, this study aims to develop the first record of both risk and protective factors at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Muckleneuk Campus as a means to inform future theoretical and practical initiatives in the area. Data was collected with photo-documentaries, unobtrusive field observations, and a peace and safety checklist. The collated data was subjected to a thematic content analysis, allowing for the emergence of four distinct peace and safety promotion themes. These themes include crime, fire injury and electrocution, road and traffic injury, in addition to unintentional injuries. These four themes are discussed, and recommendations are provided, with the intention of informing injury prevention and safety promotion initiatives at the level of both theory and practice in South African tertiary education contexts. This study provides a platform upon which further work in the field can be produced to ensure the safety of students attending tertiary education institutions in South Africa.

Keywords: campus safety; crime; traffic; electrocution; injury; South Africa; Unisa