People in Swaziland value dogs for security, yet many fear their own dogs, treat them with animosity, and do not develop a companionable bond. Children who regularly witness dogs being kicked or hit will mimic this behaviour. In Swaziland it is a daily occurrence to see children with sticks in hand, playing the game of "shaya" ("to hit"). It follows that 87% of reported abuse in Swaziland takes place at family level - and that 58% of this abuse is emotional/verbal and 14% is physical.
Conducting a clinic annually brings much needed veterinary services to communities without access to these services. Vaccinations, spays, neuters, and de-worming improves the health and behaviour of dogs and cats, and this in turn encourages companionship. Conducting educational sessions teaches good animal care practices. Good animal care practices provide a positive, daily example that helps promote the development of responsibility and empathy in young children.
Swaziland's pattern of domestic violence suggests that mimicking behaviour is a driving force. Through veterinary clinics and education sessions, people will provide better care to their dogs and cats. Children who witness positive, daily examples of good animal care are more likely to develop responsibility and empathy. Over time, this will help create new social norms that will replace the high rates of domestic violence children currently witness and experience in Swaziland.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).