n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Growing up with normalised violence : narratives of South African youth

Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



Various contemporary South African studies highlight South Africa's current crisis regarding the high numbers of young men and women who, increasingly, are both the victims and perpetrators of violence in South Africa. Although South Africa's violent history underlines that neither exposure to violence nor youth criminal violence is new, especially for the poor, marginalised youth in South Africa, of real concern is the continuing prevalence of the socio-economic factors which expose such youth to family violence, community violence and youth gangs. These factors include unchanging apartheid-based structural inequality, poverty and unemployment and as inadequate schooling. Longstanding economic, racial and gender inequality and dysfunctional family dynamics are particularly implicated.

Against this backdrop, a significant degree of normalisation of violence is inevitable. While much normalisation of violence results from chronic, socially structured or institutional violence which is often hidden by more direct violence, normalised violence also includes a range of anti-social behaviour, early and regular exposure to violence in the family and community as well as cultural beliefs that legitimise violence.
This study explores how the conflict stories of a particular group of young, so-called 'at-risk' South African adults reflect this normalisation of violence and the resilience they negotiate. In addition to questionnaires to obtain a conflict profile of the participants, the study used narrative analysis to probe the deeper meaning of their stories with a view to highlighting the challenges that such young people in South Africa are currently facing.

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