n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The interface between school connectedness and peer victimization : an exploratory study

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This article commences with a discussion on the theoretical background of school connectedness or bonding; dimensions of school connectedness; and peer victimisation typologies. The discussion is followed by the rationale for the above mentioned study and a brief exposition of the research problem, goal and objective. The research design, which includes sampling and sample demographics, the construction of a questionnaire, the pilot study, and the administration and processing of the questionnaires, is also described. The article focuses on the empirical data that relate to the level of social connectedness of victims and non-victims of peer aggression in the sample. All four dimensions of school connectedness (school attachment, school engagement, school connection and positive orientation to school,) covered in the survey were strongly related to differences in the responses of learners in the victim and non-victim groups. With regard to school attachment,more learners in the victim group not only found it difficult to gain social acceptance by peers, but reported negatively about feelings of being part of the school. The findings on school engagement indicated highly significant differences in the responses of the victim and non-victim groups. Incidences of feeling sad and unhappy (not liking school) (p = 0,000), anxiety about school (0,004) and loneliness at school (p = 0,000) were considerably higher in the victim than in the non-victim group. Differences in the responses regarding school connection indicated that learners in the victim group apparently

  1. were more socially isolated and left on their own;
  2. felt more unsafe at school; and
  3. found it more difficult to form new relationships at school.
In the positive orientation to school dimension, the findings showed significant differences (p = 0,005) in the answers of the victim and non-victim groups. A higher percentage of learners in the victim group than among the non-victims was inclined to school avoidance. What is important in the current research is that the school connectedness variables used in the study associated highly with peer victimisation outcomes in the sense that participants in the victim group reported lower levels of school connectedness.


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