Child and youth development promotes and facilitates optimum development of children and adolescents with both normal and special developmental needs, ensuring their effectiveness within all the contexts in which they function.
The developmental-ecological perspective emphasises the interaction between persons and their physical and social environments, including cultural and political settings. The value of such knowledge has become increasingly important both nationally and internationally as understanding of the importance of early life experiences to the later optimal development and well-being of the child becomes more apparent. Poor early life experiences can lead to deleterious outcomes from underachievement of potential to delinquency and deviancy.
Issues of major importance for the children and youth of South Africa and Africa include mother-to-child HIV transmission rates, teenage pregnancies, access to medical treatment, child-run families, orphan status, adoption, poverty and abuse. In South Africa, the mean population age is young and this makes the need for adequately trained professionals to address the issues of children and youth even more of a national and international priority.
Professional practitioners promote the optimal development of children, youth and their families in a variety of settings, such as early care and education, community-based child and youth development programs, parent education and family support, school-based programs, community mental health, group homes, residential centres, rehabilitation programs, paediatric health care and juvenile justice programs.
Child and youth development is offered in the Bachelor of Social Science at Monash South Africa as a major or a minor.
In addition to achieving the broad outcomes of their course, students successfully completing this major will:
- demonstrate skills in assessing client and program needs, designing and implementing programs in planned environments, integrating developmental, preventive and therapeutic requirements into the life space of children and youth.
- be sensitised to the child and youth development challenges facing South Africa and its neighbouring states and be equipped to contribute to the betterment of its peoples while being sensitive to local cultures and beliefs.