n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The prevalence of school violence and the impact on victimised learners : an exploratory study

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



The data presented in this article originated from a school safety research project which was aimed at the victim in school violence. The study was exploratory and the situation of the victims was investigated using the following general questions: What is the nature and extent of violence at school?, How do learners experience school violence?, Who is responsible for the victimisation?, and, What impact has the experience of certain incidents of school violence had on the victims? A quantitative-descriptive survey design was selected for this study. About 40% of the sample of victims revealed that they had been exposed to violence frequently [every day (11.2%) and once or twice a week (28.1%)]. The survey showed that most of the victims were subjected to verbal aggression such as cruel teasing (54.3%), bad name calling (62.5%) and threats of harm (33.8%). Of the respondents, 43.4% reported victimisation in the form of physical aggression (hitting, kicking and pushing). Considerably fewer (27.1%) incidents of relational aggression in the form of social exclusion were experienced. The perpetrator was more often than not reported as being from the same class as the victim. This trend was confirmed by 47.5% of the victims. The aggressor was categorised by more than one-third (37.6%) of the victimised learners as being in the same grade, but in a different class. In nearly half (48.3%) of the incidents, the learner responsible for the aggressive behaviour was from a higher grade. The victimised learners reported that more than 60% of aggressive incidents were initiated by a male learner (64.5%), followed by a group of boys (34.8%), and by a girl (24.9%). In response to the question of how the victims generally felt about themselves after the school violence incident, more than a third (34.8%) of the sample said that they were not really bothered by the acts of aggression. More or less equal numbers reported being angry (50.8%) or sad and miserable (47.7%). A disturbing fact is that more than 10% of the respondents actually stayed away from school once or twice (7.0%) and more than twice (4.6%) because of peer victimisation.

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