African Journal of Social Work

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The effects of the exposure to violence in schools on the psychological well-being of learners in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Eastern Cape

Eleanor Alvira Hendricks


Violation of learners in schools, has gained substantial media attention across South Africa in the 20th century. The attitudes of learners have changed and the value attached to education diminished. “There is increasing concerns within South Africa that primary and high schools are sites of widespread violence”. The aim of this paper is to explore the effects of school violence on the psychological well-being of learners. A qualitative approach and an exploratory research design were used in conducting this study. A purposive sample was employed to select participants for the study. Forty participants were selected for the study as follows: 25 learners; 5 social Workers; 5 educators; and 5 community members from schools mostly affected by school-based violence. Data was obtained through semi-structured interviews; focus group discussions with learners. Data was analysed thematically and supported by the relevant literature. The findings revealed that exposure to violence within the school environment affects negatively both the development and well-being of learners. Exposure to violence impairs learners’ emotions and cognition and it ultimately leads to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Finally, low self-esteem, thoughts of self-destruction and severe behavioural conditions are what victims face log-term in Sarah Baartman District Municipality due to the frequency of exposure to violence in schools.

Keywords: violence, schools, exposure, mental well-being, learners, South Africa

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