n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Classroom behaviour of children living in contexts of adversity

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



Many communities in South Africa are exposed to continuous adversity in the form of poverty, malnutrition, violence, crime, overcrowding, neglect and oppression. Continuous exposure to adverse living conditions can have a negative impact on a child's development. This study was undertaken in an attempt to understand the classroom behaviour of children who live in conditions of adversity. The effects that adversity could have on children's classroom behaviour, and thus also on their academic performance, their emotional states and their interactions with peers, were explored. A bio-ecological theoretical framework was employed to inform the meaning-making of the findings. This study was undertaken within an interpretive paradigm, using a qualitative methodology in gathering the data. The data was analysed using a constant comparative method in order to reach an understanding of it. The research findings indicate that most of the participants displayed inappropriate classroom behaviour, which included poor academic performance, withdrawal types of behaviour as well as externalising disruptive behaviour, such as aggressive interaction with the teacher and their peers. The participants also presented with some physical complaints that could be interpreted as traumatic symptomatology, and they reported negative emotional experiences, which include anger, sadness and anxiety. Contextual factors that contributed to the findings are reported. It is recommended that teachers are enabled through in-service training aimed at developing deeper understandings of troublesome classroom behaviour.

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