Safety and Protection.
Every child feels loved, protected and safe regardless of their physical environment.
Science shows that exposure to prolonged or excessive periods of stress during early childhood can significantly disrupt brain development. The more adverse the experiences, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression.¹ However, there is a silver lining.
Consistent, supportive caregiving has the potential to reduce or prevent the harmful effects of adverse early childhood experiences.
Young children who have stable, supportive relationships with caring adults are better able to regulate their brain and body’s response to stress hormone production. The caring adults act as buffers to the negative impacts of chronically elevated levels of hormones like cortisol that unchecked can alter a child’s capacity to learn and adapt to stressful situations. These stable, supportive relationships are particularly powerful for children who live in chronic situations of poverty and turmoil.²
We are currently investing in research to help us understand the extent to which South African children’s ability to thrive is being impacted by exposure to adverse early life experiences, and to identify opportunities for innovation in this area.