Professor Catherine Ward

Director of the Centre for Social Science Research and Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative

Research Project(s)

  • Global Parenting Initiative
  • Parenting for Lifelong Health 

Research Interests

  • Violence prevention from the perspective of children’s development using a public health approach
  • Developing evidence-based approaches to violence prevention 
  • Preventing child maltreatment and reducing their likelihood to become aggressive
  • Epidemiology risk factors faced 


Professor Catherine L. Ward is the Director of the Centre for Social Science Research and the Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative at the CSSR. She is also a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town, and is registered as a clinical psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. In her role, she serves as the UCT lead on the Global Parenting Initiative (GPI) a collaborative multinational research project, aiming to increase access to free, evidence-based digital playful parenting support in the Global South as well as supervising various satellite studies on violence. She holds a PhD in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina, USA. Prior to her Directorship, she held the position of Head of Department for the Department of Psychology at UCT. Much of her current work is focused on preventing child maltreatment, and on understanding the epidemiology of risk factors faced by South African children at school. She is one of the co-developers of the  World Health Organisation and UNICEF-led initiative Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) suite of open-access, non-commercialised programmes that aimed to support parents to raise non-violent children in non-violent homes. Her research interests are in violence prevention from the perspective of children’s development, and particularly in public health approaches to this – in developing evidence-based approaches to violence prevention that have a wide reach and are effective in improving children’s development and reducing their likelihood of becoming aggressive. 

 Professor Catherine Ward CV

Recent Publications 

  • Murray, A. L., Hemady, C. L., Do, H., Dunne, M., Foley, S., Osafo, J., Sikander, S., Madrid, B., Baban, A., Taut, D., Ward, C. L., Fernando, A., Thang, V. V., Eisner, M., Hughes, C., Fearon, P., Valdebenito, S., Tomlinson, M., Pathmeswaran, A., & Walker, S. (2022). Measuring antenatal depressive symptoms across the world: A validation and cross-country invariance analysis of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) in eight diverse low-resource settings. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication.

  • Prinsloo, M., Machisa, M., Kassanjee, R., Ward, C. L., Neethling, I., Artz, L., Jewkes, R., Abrahams, N., Pillay van-Wyk, V., Matzopoulos, R., Bradshaw, D., & Pacella, R. (2022). Estimating the changing burden of disease attributable to interpersonal violence in South Africa for 2000, 2006 and 2012. South African Medical Journal, 693–704. 

  • Prandstetter, K., Waller, F., Heinrichs, N., Hutchings, J., Ward, C. L., Dănilă, I., Lachman, J. M., & Foran, H. M. (2022). Measuring dysfunctional parenting: Psychometrics of three versions of the parenting scale. Family Relations.