A COMMUNITY STUDY OF TAXI VIOLENCE AND DISTRESS SYMPTOMS AMONG YOUTH
AbstractObjectives: To investigate the prevalence of distress symptoms among youth exposed to taxi violence in Khayelitsha, a South African peri-urban settlement. Design: A cross-sectional community study of a stratified sample of youth. Setting & Subjects: Five hundred and four Xhosa speaking youth aged 9-20 years, from 5 primary schools in Khayelitsha; 396 attending 4 schools in close proximity to a taxi rank (site C) and 108 attending a school away from any taxi rank (site B). Outcome Measures: An adapted version of the Survey of Exposure to Community Violence (SECV) was administered to investigate exposure to violence. The Levonn Instrument, a cartoon-based 29-item questionnaire was used to identify distress symptoms. Results: Three hundred and six respondents (61%) reported personal exposure to taxi violence. Overall, 31 (6%) of the youth reported that a family member had been shot and killed while travelling in a taxi and 41 (8%) reported that a family member had been wounded while travelling in a taxi. Exposure to other forms of violence was recorded. Nearly all subjects, 493 (98%), reported the presence of distress symptoms. Three hundred and thirty three (66%) reported feeling sad about people who have died, 328 (65%) reported feeling sad but did not know why, 294 (59%) were scared about something they had seen, and 248 (50%) reported not being able to concentrate in class. Of note, 132 (26%) reported that life was not worth living and wished they were dead. Those who had been in a taxi that was shot at, those who had been at a taxi rank when people were shot, and those who had seen taxi men shooting, had significantly higher levels of distress symptoms than those who did not have such experiences. Conclusion: The results indicate that an alarmingly high percentage of youth living in Khayelitsha are exposed to taxi violence, in addition to other forms of community violence, and that this increases distress symptoms in those already at risk for exposure to high levels of violence. Unacceptably high levels of distress symptoms were found in the study sample.
(Southern Af. J. of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 2000, 12(2): 151-160)