Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

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The Experience of Violence by Male Juvenile Offenders Convicted of Assault: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study

Pieter Basson, Pauline Mawson


Statistics from both South Africa and the United States of America indicate that the phenomenon of violence amongst youths is increasing. This implies  that a larger number of youths are being exposed to the experience of violence and thus present with the complex and multi-dimensional effects of such an experience. Past research has centred mostly on the causative factors  that can be statistically represented, with little focus being paid to the juveniles’ in-depth, subjective experience of the phenomenon. For the male adolescent, the experience of the phenomenon of violence is complex, diverse and may span across many aspects of his life, including physical, psychological, personal and social dimensions. Three participants were sourced from the Leeuwkop Juvenile Correctional Facility in Johannesburg and interviewed for the purpose of this study. The participants were selected based on their age (between 13 and 19 years of age) and the type of crime that they had committed (assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, common assault or indecent assault). In accordance with the phenomenological approach, open-ended interviews were used as a research method in order to allow for the participants’ unique and subjective experience of the phenomenon to emerge. The researchers found that the phenomenon of violence is characterised by the juveniles’ experience of external events that provoke a certain response manifesting itself in violent behaviour. The responses described by the participants were mostly emotional in nature and included emotions such as anger, rage and fury. The experience of violence also holds certain consequences for the male juvenile offender. The most common consequence experienced by all three participants was their subsequent arrest and incarceration in a correctional facility.

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, Volume 11, Edition 1 May 2011, iii-v
AJOL African Journals Online